On one of our earlier trips to Italy, we stayed in the town of Pistoia, and then took the train in to visit Florence. We were able to get accomodations in Pistoia easier than Florence.
But more than a town that is a short train ride, about 30 killometers, to Florence, Pistoia is an interesting city in itself. It is no sleepy hallow. It is a typical Italian medieval city and attracts a fair number of tourists. It is a well-preserved and charning medieval city complete with old city walls.
The Piazza del Duomo has the catheddral as well as other medieval buildings. Beside the Duomo, there is the 14th-Century Baptisty with the white and green marble.
the Plazzao dei Vescovi, the Bishops' Palace, dates back to 1091.
The Tower of Catilina dates back to the Middle Ages and has a height of 30 metres.
While the city does have its medieval walls, unfortunately all the four gates were demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Pistois is an interesting city, and we enjoyed staying there, but the travel to and from Florence on train, while a short ride, takes away from the enjoyment of staying in Florence.