Town in Tuscany 20 miles northwest of florence; it is one of the most important in Italy for history and art. Of ancient origin, but with few ancient monuments, it resembles Florence with churches and palaces of the 12th and 13th centuries, a number of which, including the Romanesque cathedral of three naves, alternate black and white marble. Rich in all forms of art by many famous artists, the city has especially fostered music in the cathedral from the 14th century and in the theater from c. 1600. The Lombards, who influenced Pistoia's laws and customs, made it the seat of a gastaldo between dukes in Lucca and Florence. Bordering Byzantine Bologna and ravenna, Pistoia was important in the eighth century, but declined under the Franks, to revive in the tenth century. Its commune was very active (1100–1300), but from 1219 Pistoia was ruined in wars of Lucca and Florence and in internal struggles between guelfs and ghibellines, Blacks and Whites, and Cancellieri and Panciatichi. The failure of its bankers in the 14th century left Pistoia in a bad state. Florence deprived it of autonomy in 1401. A synod under a Jansenist bishop made it noteworthy in 1786, and it took part in the Risorgimento. The Diocese of Pistoia, known from the fifth century, flourished with monasteries in the eighth century and came to possess 14 abbeys. Originally immediately subject to the Holy See, it has been suffragan to Florence since 1420; for some time Prato was united with Pistoia (1653–1954).
Bibliography: e. lucchesi, I monaci benedettini vallombrosani nella diocese di Pistoia e Prato (Florence 1941). p. paolini, Pistoia e il suo territorio (Pistoia 1962).
[e. p. colbert]