Prato city visit

Prato is a city of art with small dimensions and still pleasantly on a human scale. Its most interesting aspects are enclosed in the historic center that can be reached along the many alleys that, well or badly, lead to the large square of the Cathedral whose center is the simple but pleasant white marble fountain of the Pescatorello. The Cathedral, dedicated to St. Stephen, is there with its tall bell tower, a large Romanesque-Gothic church that immediately stands out for the two-tone materials, green marble and light Albarese typical of these places, and also the great external corner pulpit with a beautiful parapet made by Donatello (the original is in the Duomo museum), a pulpit used for the ostension to the people of the Sacred Belt (considered the Madonna's belt). The internal structure with three naves is made up of several parts in two colors. As soon as you enter, in the left we find the Chapel of the Sacred Girdle, a limited space bordered by two imposing gates whose center is the altar in polychrome marble. The two masonry sides of the Chapel are completely covered with frescoes with scenes that tell the story of the Virgin and the Girdle, under the altar is preserved the Marian relic to which the Prato are very devoted. Behind and on the side of the main altar there are a series of narrow and tall chapels with finely painted figurative windows and the fine and refined frescoes by Filippo Lippi representing, with different scenes, the stories of Saint Stephen and Saint John the Baptist, chapels that make you stand upturned for some time ......
On the side of the Cathedral is the entrance to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, a small but very interesting museum that is spread over several rooms and rooms arranged on several levels, partly on the side and partly under the same Duomo. You start the path by accessing the "Volte", an environment covered with frescoed crosses used for burials. Continuing, the various rooms host various cult objects such as the Sacra Cintola's enclosures used over time, priestly vestments, spectacular Illuminated grades from the 1400s and noteworthy religious paintings by Filippo Lippi. There is also a small archaeological area whose excavations have allowed the recovery of several objects including some dating back to the Etruscan period. In the Sala del Pulpito the original parapet of the external pulpit is kept, used for the external ostensions of the Sacra Cintola, a splendid work in relief by Donatello.
The visit to the city continues along the central Via Mazzoni that leads to another square, that of the Municipality where stands the monument to Francesco di Marco Datini and the small fountain of Bacchino. The square is not large but is one of the most important in the city, the municipality is located inside the Pretorio Palace, a 13th-century square-plan building merging multiple buildings that is known externally for the different materials present (red bricks and white albarese stone) and the different architectural styles of its facades. Inside the building there is also the Civic Museum, a museum that is spread over several floors, the museum takes place from the bottom to the other through several rooms that house works of art, mostly pictorial, from the late Middle Ages al'800.
Continuing along the main street you reach the Church of San Francesco located in the homonymous square. The Monumental complex partly visited as the church the Renaissance cloister and the beautiful Chapter Chapel (also known as Cappella Migliorati) full of frescoes in Giotto style, restored to their ancient splendor recently.
Just behind San Francesco is the Castello dell'Imperatorie with its large square in front that allows a complete view. Castle with a troubled history dotted with many vicissitudes and transformations, from an initial dwelling place to a castle to a fortress palace to a munitions depot to a prison and after a place abandonment to a city monument. The structure, made with the white tufaceous stone of the place, makes it beautiful and obvious species now after a long and recent recovery. Inside, the central housing unit after many transformations, has been destroyed and only the walls have remained with four powerful towers placed at the respective corners of the castle. The visit is limited to the walkways on the walls where the large Ghibelline swallowtail merlons are evident, a characteristic walk that allows a wide vision of the city.
My visit ends here, not because there are other interesting places to visit but because the day ended and given the time available we can not help but focus on the main monuments.

Prato curiosity

In the twelfth century, the city Prato was full of towers, at the time of maximum expansion there were well sixty. The historic center was dominated by a building with vertical development with small windows, loopholes and narrow porticoes. The highest constitutions had a double function, housing and watch towers in case of war events. Turning in the historic center, just look up to see the structures of these tower-houses, often now without the highest parts.


Prato photo and video gallery

All the photographs and movies of Viterbo on this site are by Roberto

Complete photographic album of Prato
Photo collection slideshow of Prato

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Other cities visited
by Robert

Tuscania

A small town with Etruscan origins, it rises in Tuscia on some tufaceous romontories

Viterbo

City rich in history and important monuments with a beautiful medieval district