Pistoia: Italy's 2017 Culture Capital

It's a new year, and Italy would like to bring your attention to a new unsung “Cultural Capital” over the next 12 months. Cultural Capitals are small, jewel-like cities that have less star power than Venice or Florence, but offer their own understated beauty and artistic and architectural treasures to discover. Last year, the honor fell to the “Sleeping Beauty” of Mantua, a beautiful Renaissance center and UNESCO World Heritage Site between Milan and Venice, and this year the fêted city is the Tuscan town of Pistoia, just half an hour outside Florence at the foot of the Apennine mountains.

B02 Pistoia panorama(Photo by mksfca on Flickr)

Christened “La Città dei Crucci”, or “City of Sorrow”, by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Pistoia has long had a reputation for being particularly contentious, with its residents embroiled in protracted battles between warring factions and families for centuries. “I love you, city of sorrow, bitter Pistoia,” wrote D'Annuncio, “blood of the Whites and the Blacks, that turns red before your proud people, men of ideology, with ancient joy.” Today, rather than bitterness and blood, you'll find Pistoians harbor a fierce civic pride and enduring affection for their home town.

Pistoia has grown in popularity over the past few years, as visitors to Florence look to escape the crowds in Tuscany's capital city by venturing out to the relative peace of the nearby provincial towns for day trips and overnights. If there was ever a time to visit Pistoia's pretty piazzas, elegant churches, and world-class museums, it is 2017...the calendar is full of special cultural events, exhibitions, and concerts and the center has been spruced up and is ready to receive travelers curious to explore one of the most charming small cities in Tuscany.
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Eight “Must See” Art Exibitions in Italy 2016

While 2015 was the year in which the Expo World Fair dominated Italy's event calendar, 2016 is set to be the year of important art exhibitions. From Renaissance masters to modern icons, many of art's most recognized names have shows or installations scheduled during the coming months in Italian cities from north to south.

alternative text(Photo: William Kentridge Triumphs and Laments © Tevereterno)

Many of these shows have already attracted their fair share of publicity and ticket sales, so if you are planning on visiting make sure you have arranged for tickets - or have us make the arrangements for you! You don't want to waste hours standing in long lines or find that tickets are sold out for the dates you are in town. You should also revisit our tips for visiting museums in Italy, which covers everything from beating the crowds to skipping the lines.
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Rome's “The Power of Ruins” Exhibit

We recently visited the excellent “La Forza delle Rovine” exhibition at Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano in Palazzo Altemps (running through the end of January, 2016), which includes photographs taken by our lead guide in Rome, Alessandro Celani.

power of ruins-rome-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

This group of over 100 works - including sculptures, paintings, engravings, watercolors, antique books, photographs, music, and films - from private and public collections in Italy and across the globe are united around the topic of “ruins”. Visitors are invited to reflect on the meaning relics of the past have had over time, from ancient civilizations to contemporary tourists, including intellectuals, writers, musicians, and film makers through the centuries. Read More...

Caravaggio in Sicily

If you think that Charlie Sheen has a corner on the bad boy-slash-artistic genius market, think again. Centuries before temperamental Hollywood actors were trashing hotel rooms and scandalizing the morally upstanding,16th century Baroque painter Caravaggio was blazing the trail of high-profile excess and brawling, a route which led from Rome to Naples to Malta to Sicily and back to Naples as he sought to keep a step ahead of the law and his personal enemies. Read More...

Behind Closed Doors: Visiting Private Museums and Artwork in Italy

Italy is saturated with art, and not only in the big ticket cities like Rome, Florence, or Venice. Virtually every hamlet and hilltown in Italy boasts at least one masterpiece tucked away in the local parish church or dusty municipal gallery which, if it were housed in any city in the New World, would be the crown jewel of a lavish dedicated museum and marketed to its last dab of tempera.

But if your head swims at the thought of the incredible volume of art displayed publicly in Italy, consider the treasures that hide behind closed doors. Centuries of noble families amassing sumptuous private collections mean that there are untold Stendhal moments tucked away in the elegant apartments of Italy’s private palazzi and castles. Many of these are off-limits to visitors outside the family’s close circle, but many others can be quietly and privately seen...if you just know how. Read More...

Rome Hosts Titian’s Renaissance Masterpieces This Spring

pouring italian wines
Image by Flickr user Cea

Titian, or Tiziano, as he is known in Italy, is equaled in elegance, technique, and artistic breadth only by his Renaissance contemporaries Raphael and Michelangelo.

During his lifetime, he was the darling of the Venetian Doge, and did much of his work in Venice and around the Veneto. Today, his masterpieces are scattered throughout Europe’s most prominent galleries from the Uffizi in Florence to the Prado in Madrid.

But thankfully for those visiting Rome this spring and summer, Titian’s greatest masterpieces are coming to you.

Titian at the Quirinale


summer art exhibit in Rome Quirinale
Image by Flickr user Averain

For the first time, the Uffizi Gallery’s seductiveFlora will meet the frenetic, brutal torture scene The Flaying of Marsyas from the Kromeriz Gallery in the Czech Republic.

The span of Titian’s work, both geographically and chronologically, will be united in one place as never before in the “Tiziano” exhibition at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale from March 5th through June 16th.

summer art exhibit in Rome Titian comparisom
Image by Flickr user Cea

Assembled by the greatest scholars of Titian’s work, the exhibit painstakingly documents the growth of the master, decade by decade. Both different versions of the same subject that Titian painted for different patrons and paintings on the same subject by the master and his apprentices will be juxtaposed to show the depth of his interpretation and technique.

Other Headlining Exhibitions


summer art exhibit in Rome Uffizi
Image by Flickr user Kevin Poh

In Florence, the Uffizi been busy expanding the breadth of its display with a brand new wing. But the real gem is the new Michelangelo room, centered on the master’s sculpture “Sleeping Ariadne,” on display in the museum for the first time in two hundred years.

And if you find yourself in Verona for the 100th anniversary of the city’s iconic opera festival at the Roman Arena di Verona, stop into the Palazzo della Gran Guardia for their Rubens and Picasso exhibit. Nearby in Padova, the Palazzo Zabarella has assembled more than 120 works from Apulian impressionist De Nettis’s time in Rome.

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Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers | Contact Us
Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy