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palazzo_comunale.jpgThe extraordinary variety of its surroundings, the peacefulness so typical of this Tuscan province, and the wide range of activities off the usual beaten tourist track, make the province of Pistoia the ideal destination for families with children. In the surrounding mountains you can immerse yourself in nature and come into contact with the many animals that live there. Or take a walk along paths lined with magnificent trees, discover lakes and pools, falls and streams, or go looking for delicious wild fruits of the forest. Or follow the many animal tracks and perhaps even be lucky enough to glimpse the animals themselves: wolves, deer, wild sheep, fallow and roe-deer and wild boar; and looking up at the sky it is possible to see many different kinds of bird, including the falcon and the beautiful golden eagle.

Collodi and the Butterfly House 

In Collodi, near Pescia, is the splendid Villa Garzoni with its Italianate garden and the new Butterfly House, where some of the most beautiful rare and exotic butterflies in the world fly free inside the glass hothouse. But the biggest attraction for children is the Pinocchio Park, where young and old alike can follow the tale of the famous puppet by walking among the works of famous artists.

Pistoia Zoo biciclettadef.jpg
The Giardino Zoologico di Pistoia offers a fascinating day out, either exploring alone or with the help of a guide: the 7 hectare park is known throughout Italy and is home to some 600 animals (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians), hundreds of species of exotic plant, and has a biodiversity lab where it is possible to play and learn. Absolutely not to be missed.

Fattoria di Celle
Those looking for a unique and original experience should head for the Villa di Celle, at Santomato, between Pistoia and Montale, a place in which art and nature complement each other. Throughout the 20 hectare park the owner of the villa has placed original works of art. A complete tour of the park takes around three hours. Advance booking required.

S.Giorgio Library
Not far from the railway station in Pistoia is the brand-new library, the largest in the region, and with its purpose-built areas for children and young people provides a modern, dynamic and welcoming environment.

In the mountains
The Ecomuseo della montagna pistoiese offers a great opportunity to learn about nature and the work of man through the ages, through its six fascinating and fun itineraries, all with the expert support of a guide. These range from collecting plant samples to examine under the microscope, to putting all your senses, including your sense of direction, to the test, and even to demonstrations of how to make bread or chestnut flour. Or pay a visit to the Osservatorio Astronomico della Montagna Pistoiese, the observatory in San Marcello, where you can explore the stars in the sky. And at the brand-new Adventure Park in Cutigliano both adults and kids alike can put themselves to the test on its treetop walk in truly unspoilt pinocchiodef.jpgsurroundings. For something a little different why not visit the suspension bridge in Mammiano, originally built as a shortcut across a valley for the people of the area to get to work, and now a noted tourist attraction.

Finally, there is Pinocchio sugli sci, a downhill skiing championship which brings together thousands of young ski enthusiasts from all over the world every year. Children between 8 and 15 years old, divided into various age categories, not only take part in competitions and races but also have a great deal of fun together while also learning about sportsmanship.

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