Saturday, November 4, 2017

From the Batic to Italy - Prato, if you please. With the Wandering Writer

It is no wonder that I com once again back to Italy. Besides being my homeland, it is one of the most heterogeneous countries in the world, rich in history, diverse in cultural heritage, a real melting pot to connect the modern with the ancient, north with south and east with west.
Every region has its own traditions, language, culture. What unifies the whole country is the official language and that strong feeling of belonging to a Country that despite all the diversities, all the troubles can still identify itself as a one.
The Bel Paese, (Beautiful Country) as it was defined since the middle ages and used by poets like Dante and Petrarch.
This time, I bring you with me to discover a lovely city, which I keep very dear for many reasons, for its beauties and for the people I go, time to time to meet.
Prato, the third largest city in central Italy, with a large Chinese community. Since the middle age, the main economy has been the textile industry and one of the main centers of the slow food movement.
A bit of history, just to understand where we are. Archaeological studies suggest that the area was inhabited already since the Paleolithic age, colonized afterward by the Etruscans who remained in the valley until the 5th Century BC. The reason for their decay is not yet clear, but we might think that since immediately after, the control of the area shifted to the Romans, they might have been the reason for the decay.
Nevertheless, the real history of Prato starts from the 10th century with the settlement of the two villages Borgo al Cornio and Castrum Prati.
Now, after this small parenthesis, lets go to what the city has to offer, and Id say a lot. Start with the food, and be prepared that during your stay you must forget about your diet. Starting with the bakeries, which offer all sorts of delicacies, from the most traditional to the new bakery concepts. I know I shouldnt do it, but there is a historical place where to buy your cantuccini (the typical biscuit of Prato) and is a bakery that will blow your mind. Founded in 1858, the Biscottificio Antonio Mattei offers a temptation you shall never resist. The fragrance can be smelled already as you approach the shop, so you might also use your nose to lead you to that paradise.
Together with that, there are many restaurants and trattorias that will give you a reason to stay perhaps for another day, or another week.

Walking around the city, you will probably be tempted to have a look to the churches, and in this case, Id say you should do it, as they represent a very important part of the history of the city.

and to admire the wonderful Romanesque architecture, particularly of the Cathedral of Prato with its cloister.
The Bisenzio, which is a tributary of the river Arno, crosses the city and that means home for many animal species. The most intriguing, at least for me, is the nutria (coypu) who is regulating the functioning of the river.

I could stay for hours to look at the river, the coypu, and all the birds coming for the mating season or just for a snack, kindly offered by the people living there and tourists. You might lose yourself into the admiration of the riverbank, on a sunny day. You will surely be enticed by the flowing of the river until it will flow in unison with your thoughts, as your mind goes back in the ancient times, thinking about the poets, who had been inspired by its flowing.
Continuing your wandering along the river, you will for sure be attracted by the wonderful buildings around it.
Likewise in most part of Italy, lifestyle is relaxed and all you will have to do is take your time, take a sip of a good vin santo with the cantucci and enjoy life as it comes, flowing like the Bisenzio river
Take it easy in this weekend:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this post about Prato. While living in Firenze, I had the opportunity to visit Prato often as an aide to the art therapist at the mental hospital. Such a lovely city, and yes, the cantuccini di Prato are the best in Italia.


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