A small Tuscan city, with a beautiful historic centre and a vibrant cultural life, Prato has a lot to offer visitors.
History and origins
Dating back to medieval times, Prato is known historically for its textile industry and, more recently, the 'fast fashion' sector. The city has a rich historical and artistic patrimony, including:
- a mid-thirteenth century castle built by the Hohenstaufen Emperors
- medieval walls enclosing the ancient city centre
- a Romanesque cum Gothic cathedral dedicated to Saint Stephen, with an external pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo
- the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri by Giuliano da Sangallo, with a Greek cross plan
- Palazzo Datini, the late fourteenth century home of the famous 'Merchant of Prato', Francesco Datini
- Palazzo Pretorio, the former city hall of Prato, now a museum with a collection of about 3000 items from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, including works by Donatello, Filippo Lippi and Filippino Lippi
Present day Prato
Yet to be transformed by mass tourism, Prato is the perfect environment for immersion in Italian language and culture. With a population of over 195,000, Prato is the second-largest city in Tuscany (after Florence). Like many cities in Europe, Prato has a multicultural community. It is also home to one of the largest Chinese migrant populations in Europe. This diversity is reflected in the cultural and artistic life of the city.
The major sites are located within the city's medieval walls and in easy walking distance of our centre. For places of interest and other useful information in English, view the Città di Prato website and the Prato city map.
Don’t forget to try out the many restaurants, theatres, sporting clubs, and shopping centres all of which are just a short walk or bus ride away. Our recommended list of establishments (with discounts for Monash visitors and students) is available on the Monash Prato Card page.
Art, theatre and special events
The city hosts various cultural and social events during the year. Don’t miss:
On 8 September every year the city celebrates its medieval origins with a parade through the streets featuring flag throwers in medieval costume. It’s one of only five times in the year when you can catch a glimpse of The Holy Belt.
Prato Estate and Cinema in the Castle
Summer in Prato is packed with events: concerts, performances, art and craft markets, and much more. Don't miss the opportunity to watch a film in the thirteenth century open air castle, Prato's equivalent to 'cinema under the stars', or enjoy a live outdoor concert in Piazza Duomo in early September.
The Province of Prato embraces some magnificent countryside. There are also important Etruscan archaeological sites not far from the city.
South of Prato lie the towns of Artimino, Poggio a Caiano (with its famous Medici Villa), and Carmignano, an area famous for the production of DOC and DOCG wines and extra virgin olive oil.
To the north you'll find the picturesque mountain towns of Vaiano and Vernio.
The Prato Tourist Bureau has maps and further information to help you enjoy your stay.
Continue your fitness routine during your stay in Prato. Play tennis, swim, or go running or riding along the Bisenzio river - the cycle path will take you up the hills allowing you to enjoy stunning views of the city!
Find out more about sport opportunities in Prato.
Prato is connected by regular trains to Florence (30min), Pistoia (20min), Pisa (1.5hrs), Lucca (1hr) and Versilia (1.5hrs). The official Visit Tuscany website provides up-to-date information on the many destinations you can explore during your stay in this beautiful region.