If there is one city that can impress those looking for lesser-known destinations, it’s Prato. Considering how the city is presented by the press, visitors will be surprised to discover an elegant and well-preserved historical city centre, as impressive as the most famous Medieval Tuscan cities. One of the first things that will capture anyone’s attention inside the city walls is the Emperor’s Castle, a rare example of Swabian architecture in North-Central Italy. Nearby, the view extends into the beautiful piazza Duomo, that houses the Cathedral of Santo Stefano. On the outside of the Cathedral, the circular external pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo wraps around the far right corner. Inside, visitors can admire the splendid frescoes by Filippo Lippi.
The pulpit is still used 5 times a year for the Display of the Holy Girdle of the Madonna (solemnly onthe 8th of September), a relic to which the people of Prato are particularly proud.
In recent years more and more tourists, including foreigners, have been visiting the city, which has encouraged a transformation inside the centre. Many new restaurants and bars have opened and a favourite pastime is taking evening strolls through the narrow streets and historic squares, free from that claustrophobic feeling that can come from being in a city with higher traffic. Despite its quaint size, there are certainly many things to see: a short walk around the city and visitors will undoubtedly have stumbled upon Palazzo Datini, Palazzo Pretorio, the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Carceri by Giuliano da Sangallo, the churches of San Francesco and San Domenico, and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, home of works by Renaissance masters such as Filippo Lippi, Donatello, Michelozzo and many more.
Prato is a city that knew how to introduce contemporary into his historical character (as a calling and out of necessity), and for this reason, the “Luigi Pecci” Centre for Contemporary Art is of notable importance. Designed by the rationalist architect Italo Gamberini, founded in 1988 and completely restored on the futuristic project of the Chinese-Dutch architect Maurice Nio. The Centre is known worldwide, with an extensive exhibition program that adds to the important permanent collection featuring works by the biggest artists of the last 30 years.
- which for those who visit Prato means first of all an interesting opportunity for a gastronomic trip in a network of roads that are a real and true own graft of the Country of the Dragon in a Tuscan suburb.
As any vibrant city, Prato is also understood in terms of its communities. The Chinese one is important here, which, for visitors, means first and foremost an interesting opportunity for a culinary tour through streets that seem to be true transplants from the Country of the Dragon in a Tuscan suburb. Any visit to Prato should include a stop at the Textile Museum, a unique and instructive expression of the city’s textile history. Inside the museum there are samples from the 5th century to the present day and the building itself is a monument of industrial archeology, as it is the only large nineteenth-century production complex still existing within the medieval walls.