Pistoia’s Museo Civico inside the Town Hall, Palazzo degli Anziani, has a new World Map Carpet (the Tappeto Mappamondo) inviting visitors to come in and sit down, relax and discuss the museum’s artwork.

Dialoghi Nuovi is the abbreviated form of the official title of the project, The Museo Civico of Pistoia: An Ancient Space for New Dialogues (Museo Civico di Pistoia. Spazio antico per dialoghi nuovi). The Museo Civico received financial support from the Regione Toscana and artistic and historical research and development of the project by Artemisia Cultural Association. This ongoing project is also the result of the many singular contributions of citizens in Pistoia. This new World Map Carpet is accompanied by Arabic, Romanian, Albanian and English translations of educational material and interactive activities for children, families and any visitors interested in learning about these intercultural dialogues. All of the translations were done by Annamaria Iacuzzi, Iacopo Cassigoli, Filomena Cafaro, Simonetta Lupi, Costanza Ballati, Benedetta Bucci, Molly McIlwrath, Nour Daher, Evisa Xhani and Elena Ghinea Anghelache.

The following reflections between the photos are those of an associate of Artemisia, Archeologist Cristina Taddei, who spearheaded the Dialoghi Nuovi project. Taddei stresses the importance of this project and that it is critical for museums in Italy to open up to interculture in the diverse multi cultural society that constitutes the social fabric of the country today.


“Developing this project first of all brought those of us who have been collaborators with the Museo Civico for many years to see the museum and its collection with new eyes.”

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Cristina Taddei discusses the latest research on Semitic scripts in medieval paintings in Pistoia’s Museo Civico.


Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti, known more easily as “Al Idrisi,” is believed to have lived from 1099-1166 BC and was one of the most important medieval geographers. He was employed by Roger II, King of Sicily, to create a planisphere of the world and write a geographical compendium which took him fifteen years. During this time he gathered stories from travellers and merchants and united them with the information he had collected from Greek and Arabic geographers. We also find Pistoia among the cities described by Al Idrisi in his maps and lengthy texts that accompanied the silver planisphere of the world. The town is positioned at the foot of the Apennines with its medieval wall and bustling markets.

The World Map Carpet was created by hand by the social cooperative Manusa Refashion Factory  in collaboration with Artemisia and carried out thanks to the collaboration of several women. Antonella Sarri traced the map using a copy of the manuscript that is now held in Oxford in the Bobleian Library. Khadija Chaibi, Giuseppina Frezza and Mina Froukkas finished the embroidery work with the help of Franca Giustina Lonetti and Samuela Levacovich. The Arabic terms were transcribed into Latin by Keltum Manari.

For now the carpet will be used for special events for families and school groups as they sit on it while observing and discussing the museum’s artworks. It is also accompanied by a small guide where the Arabic names have been transcribed into Latin.

Carpets were produced in the early 5th century BC and were originally used to cover the pavement of nomadic tents. Later they were used for homes and mosques and arrived in Europe during the years of the Crusades along with other goods that travelled west.


“A carpet is a bridge between East and West.”

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The World Map Carpet based on medieval geographer Al-Idrisi’s map in Pistoia’s Town Hall at the conference in December inaugurating the carpet and the multilingual activities in the museum.

“The project allows us to engage as a culture capable of creating a ‘democratic’ dialogue with people who come from very diverse cultural backgrounds.”

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A closer view of the “Tappeto Mappamondo,” the World Map Carpet.

“Telling stories about the masterpieces in the museum with an intercultural approach reveals that men and women have always been in contact, exchanging objects, ideas, and symbols.”

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Lippo di Benivieni, Detail of “Il Compianto di Cristo” (1300 c. ) with Semitic script, Museo Civico, Pistoia.

“Today it is more important than ever to remember that art and beauty are part of a language that we all recognize.”

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Maestro del 1310, Detail of “Madonna col Bambino e i Santi Iacopo (?), Giovanni Battista, Maria Maddalena, Bernardo” (early 14th century) with Arabic script, Museo Civico, Pistoia.


“Beyond every ethnic, religious, or political affiliation, we are first and foremost human beings who search for meaning in our existence.”

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Travelling pigments. An interactive activity with information on the diffusion of pigments and materials from East to West.

“Art helps us to imagine new worlds in order to move beyond the horizon of the present moment.”

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Handouts made by Artemisia for the Museo Civico for visitors that explain the history of the various pigments.

 “To visit a museum along with people who neither speak my language, nor share my symbolic code, is an extraordinarily creative experience.”

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Anna Laura Giachini, Education Director of the Museo Civico, testing out the blocks with the words “piazza” (square), “casa” (home) and others in an interactive activity.

“It is a useful and enriching experience to imagine a new world – a world with dialogues for everyone.”

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Language beyond borders.


Pistoia’s MUSEO CIVICO (in Piazza del Duomo, Palazzo Comunale, 1) is open from Thursday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.

SPECIAL GUIDED VISITS can be made by reservation:

tel. 0573.371296
fax 0573.371289
email: museocivico@comune.pistoia.it

It is also possible to write directly to Artemisia Cultural Association whose educators and guides collaborate with the museums. They are regularly active on their Facebook page here.

tel. 338 990 1507
email: cristinataddei.artemisia@gmail.com



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