Prato: what to see, attractions and places to visit in a day
What to see in Prato, attractions and places to visit in one day in this city in Tuscany situated between Florence and Pistoia, world famous for the textile industry.
Since prehistoric times the territory of Prato was the site of human settlement, bear witness to the many artifacts found in the area Galceti, a resort town at the southern foot of Monteferrato, north-west of the city. Archaeological excavations in the area of Gonfienti, east of Prato, have unearthed an ancient Etruscan town of considerable size, demonstrating the presence of the Etruscans in the area, however, already established by other important archaeological finds.
When they reached the Romans, the land where today stands Prato were destined for land division, ie organized according to a precise pattern of roads, canals and agricultural plots to be allocated to new settlers, generally veteran soldiers, while it is not certain that there an urban settlement of this era.
Subsequently were the Lombards to settle on the territory of Prato, especially in the Val di Bisenzio and in the Montemurlo, but must wait for the ninth century to have the first news of the town of Prato.
Indeed, it was around the beginning of the eleventh century that formed the urban center of Prato, in a merger between two settlements, one of Borgo al Cornio, located near the Church of Santo Stefano, the current cathedral, and the one next to the home of Count Alberti, on whose ruins was built by Emperor Frederick II Castle came to our days.
Prato became a free commune in the twelfth century, and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries began the wool processing and the manufacture of fabrics, thanks also to the presence of the river Bisenzio and implementation of a system of channels called gore, dug especially for receiving waters, useful for providing energy to the fulling mills and for washing clothes.
The textile art became established and had a great development in the fourteenth century with the creation of guilds and trade with other European countries. The archive of letters, records and other items that belonged to Francesco Datini, the famous Merchant of Prato, constitute a very interesting test.
Meanwhile, the nearby Florence, who had always had ambitions of conquest towards Prato, he had full control in 1351. Prato was sold by Queen Joanna of Naples to Florence and followed in subsequent centuries the fortunes, both under the Medici dynasty with both the Florentine Republic, and just as a result of an agreement made by the Medici with the army of the Holy League, an alliance made between Pope Julius II and the Spanish, since they had been driven from Florence and wanted to re-enter, August 29, 1512 , the Spanish soldiers besieged the city of Prato and worked there a tremendous devastation, called the Sack of Prato.
Under the House of Medici villas were built, palaces and the Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri, built by architect Giuliano da Sangallo. The seventeenth century was to Prato a period of economic decline, which ended at the beginning of the eighteenth century with the arrival of the Dukes of Lorraine, which stimulated the cultural and economic development of the city, which emerged dramatically in the following centuries.
Places to visit in Prato in a day
-The Prato Cathedral is dedicated to St. Stephen, built in Romanesque style in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and expanded in the fourteenth century. with the addition of the gothic cruise. Inside it vast frescoes of Filippo Lippi, considered among the most significatvi pictorial cycles of the early Renaissance, and in the chapel of the Holy Girdle, frescoed by Agnolo Gaddi, houses the Sacred Belt, the belt that, according to ancient tradition, the Virgin Mary donated to St. Thomas at the time of his recruitment. This precious relic, very important in the religious and civil history of Prato, is shown to the faithful five times a year (September 8, Christmas, Easter, May 1, August 15th), from the pulpit of Donatello built for this purpose on the right corner the facade of the Cathedral.
-The Cathedral Museum preserves important works and is located in the medieval Bishop’s palace, close to the Duomo.
– The Town Square in the center with a copy of the Fountain of Bacchus, Fernando Tacca, the original is in the lobby of the Town Hall.
On the square is the Praetorian Palace of sec. XIII-XIV, inside the seat of the Municipal Gallery.
– Santa Maria delle Carceri, a Greek cross, is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture architect Giuliano da Sangallo.
– Emperor’s Castle, an imposing building with a square built by Frederick II between 1237 and 1248.
– The churches of St. Dominic, St. Francis and St. Augustine.
-The Textile Museum, located in the restored rooms of the ex pruning Campolmi, within the medieval walls of the city.
-The Museum of Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci, located in the south-east of the city and houses collections of international artists.