A few weeks ago I visited Pistoia the Italian City of Culture 2017. Situated in Tuscany about half way between Florence and Pisa it is not
well known as a tourist destination but there is lots to see and discover. The ladies in the Tourist Information office are the most friendly and helpful I have ever met and I did about a weeks worth of sightseeing in two days with them. I also finally met Michela who I had met on Instagram. She met me off the train from Pisa and very kindly whisked me off to her husbands restaurant Il Pollo d’oro and fed me with lots of lovely Pistoian specialities. Two days later I met Michela’s friend Tania who told me lots of intriguing stories about Pistoia.
While I was there I was supposed to be going to watch The famous “Joust of the Bear” the biggest event that happens in Pistoia. However after two months without rain there was a massive thunderstorm on the afternoon of the joust and it was postponed until the next evening when I would be on my way home. Never mind, it’s a good excuse to return next year!!
Another restaurant I visited was Locanda del Capitano del Popolo which is owned by a famous Italian TV chef called Checco. I had chicken in truffle sauce – it was so good!! Unfortunately he was on holiday and I didn’t get to meet him. Another reason to return.
One of the specialities of Pistoia is “hedgehog confetti”. The first historical evidence of “confetti di Pistoia” comes from 1372 when these sweets were used to celebrate the feast day of the Patron Saint on the 25th July. These days confetti is still produced to celebrate special occasions of all kinds. I visited the shop of Bruno Corsini where hedgehog confetti is made to this day. I was invited to watch their products being made in large copper bowls which rotate continuously until the manufacturing cycle is complete. Pistoia’s confetti is different to those of other regions not only because of its hedgehog form but also because of the great variety of flavours. Another Corsini speciality is the “Panforte di Pistoia Glace” created by Bruno Corsini the son of the founder Umberto. It is a mixture of hazelnuts, almonds, cherries and candied citron and orange peel. It is a secret recipe and is handed down through the generations. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are ever in Pistoia . You will come away with bags of all sorts of sweet delights! I did.
My friend Michela does wonderful tours of Pistoia
I stayed in a lovely central hotel – Palazzo Puccini – http://www.lsmpistoia.it