This building was lived in for many centuries by the family whose name it its and whose large coat of arms is on the corner. It is the only private building in the Medieval style still found today in the city.
In the 1300s Vinciguerra Panciatichi, a descendent of Pancio di Bellino, returned to Pistoia after his exile in France and had the palazzo built near the via Maestra and borgo San Domenico which are today the streets of via Cavour and via Panciatichi.
During their forced sojourn north of the Alps, the Panciatichi family carried on banking activities with remarkable success and when they returned to Pistoia they wanted their palazzo, in some details of its design, to reflect contemporary French civic architecture.
For three months in the early 1400s, the building hosted Pope Alessandro V who, because of his uncertain health, stayed in Pistoia before moving on to Bologna where he would later die. Other famous people found hospitality here during the plague that befell Florence in the second half of the century; these included members of Lorenzo il Magnifico's family and some members of his court like Poliziano.
This is evidence as to how powerful the Panciatichi family was and how the palazzo played a key role in the city, almost vying with the City Hall.
The palazzo was burned during the early sixteenth century fighting between the Panciatichis and the powerful Cancellieri family, a conflict caused by rivalry over the position of Hospital Administrator,The Panciatichis were forced to flee the city only to return a few years later under the protection of Florence. They renovated the family building, transforming it from a Medieval fortress into a Renaissance residence. The battlements were taken down - today they can only be seen on the left side - and were replaced by elegant roof eaves in stone and woodwork while the interior was remodeled with the large courtyard and stairway.
The enlargement was the work of Ventura Vitoni, in those years Pistoia's top architect as well as the director of construction of the Basilica of the Madonna dell'umiltà.
At the end of the 1500s the last descendent of the family found himself in serious economic difficulty and was forced to sell the palazzo to the Cellesi family. The male descendents, of this house were given the title of Ball (or Knight Commander) of the Ordine di Santo Stefano, an institution founded by the Grand Duke Cosimo I dei Medici to defend the Tuscan coasts from Turkish incursions. The title of this rank is linked to the name that the people of Pistoia use today for the old residence.
At the beginning of this century the portico (now a bank's office) housed one of the city's first cinemas: the Excelsior. In spite of the fact that the palazzo was partially destroyed by the American and British bombing in the Second World War, a careful restoration during the 1960s repaired the serious damage giving the palazzo back its original form and thus rehabilitating what had been one of the most prominent places in Pistoia's history.
Comune di Pisa