TELL ME WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND I WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO SEE
Have you ever wondered what Tuscan city contains a heritage of art, history and gastronomy still little explored by mass tourism? With this post, I invite you to discover what to see in Prato, a pearl nestled in the hills of Tuscany, where fine fabrics mingle with ancient flavours.
On this page you will find all the suggestions for exploring every corner of the Tuscan city. Here you will find a collection of the museums in Prato that I consider unmissable; some of the most evocative palaces to visit; churches and places of interest that you absolutely must see and also photograph.
Museums to visit in Prato
Prato is a city that guards a rich and varied artistic and historical heritage. The Pecci Centre is the point of reference for contemporary art, coexisting harmoniously with the Palazzo Pretorio Museum, which tells us stories of ancient art. In this city, sacred art can be admired in the churches, which are places where you can discover the history of the city.
You may be wondering then where to start when visiting the most important museums.
For me, these are the three must-see museums to start learning about the city, its history and its masterpieces.
Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci
If you visit Prato, you cannot miss the Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art. An architectural marvel inaugurated in 1988 and expanded in 2016 thanks to the genius of architect Maurice Nio.
Inside you will find a kaleidoscope of artistic expressions ranging from visual arts to performance, from cinema to music, passing through architecture, design, fashion and literature.
Maurice Nio has imagined the Luigi Pecci Centre as a ‘city within a city’, creating a 3,000 square metre exhibition space dedicated entirely to contemporary culture. inside you will also find a specialised library with over 60,000 volumes an auditorium-cinema, a bookshop, a restaurant, a bistro and even an open-air theatre.
Museo di Palazzo Pretorio
In the centre of the city of Prato is the Museo di Palazzo Pretorio, a 13th-century building characterised by its red brick and stone façade.
The museum inside the palace boasts a collection of over 3,000 works of art, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
I invite you to explore each room and immerse yourself in the masterpieces of great artists. Do not miss the opportunity to admire Lorenzo Bartolini’s gipsoteca, along with works by Donatello, Filippo and Filippino Lippi.
Prato is a city famous for its textiles and the Textile Museum tells the story of textile art. Here you can explore a wide range of textiles: antique, printed, ethnic, archaeological and contemporary, all part of a collection that has no equal in the world.
The Prato Textile Museum is located in what was once an old factory, allowing you to visit the rooms where fabrics were made and admire the working tools: from the ancient boiler to the textile machinery.
Churches and places of worship in Venice
Prato’s sacred buildings are a cultural heritage worth visiting. Here I highlight the most important.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santo Stefano is of extraordinary beauty. A magnificent example of the Pisan-Luccan Romanesque style, it is one of the main attractions to visit in Prato.
Its façade, in late Gothic style, is distinguished by its alternating stripes of green and white marble.
Inside, the Cathedral opens into three naves adorned with a geometric floor and houses an impressive series of frescoes by Filippo Lippi with the help of Fra’ Diamante. Also of note are the paintings by Paolo Uccello in the Chapel of the Assumption.
Other characteristic places to see in Prato
There are so many sights in Prato that I could list, but here I want to suggest some of the iconic places you cannot miss.
- Castello dell’Imperatore, a magnificent example of Swabian architecture, built around 1240 to a design by Riccardo da Lentini and home to King Enzo, son of Frederick II.
- Palazzo Datini, residence of Prato’s greatest entrepreneur and benefactor: Francesco Datini. Back in 1382 he created a large company with branches in the main European cities of the time. His house is a typical example of a medieval merchant’s palace.
- Parco Archeologico di Carmignano, a stone’s throw from the historic centre of Prato and with a series of Etruscan finds to admire. This large area includes the archaeological sites of the Ratimino necropolis in Prato Rosello, the Montefortini tumulus, the Boscehtti tomb in Comeana and the fortified settlement of Pietramarina and the Archaeological Museum of Artimino.
To delve into the history and the most secret corners of the Tuscany region, however, the recommendation is to join a guided tour.
Events and Exhibitions in Venice
Prato does not have a rich programme of art exhibitions all year round, but it often hosts interesting events, and especially from Prato it is easy to reach a city such as Florence, which is a reference point for many temporary events.
To stay up-to-date on all current events and exhibitions, I suggest you take a look at the Events and Exhibitions page to check what is on offer in Prato and its surroundings.
How to get around Prato
The nearest airports are Amerigo Vespucci in Florence, Galileo Galilei in Pisa or Guglielmo Marconi in Bologna. Once landed, you can take advantage of the bus or train connections. You can also rent a car and take the A1 Milano-Napoli motorway or the A11 Firenze-Pisa Nord. In and around the city, it is best to rent a car, so you can get around the city centre and admire the surrounding Tuscan landscape.