Prato guide

Prato guide
Ultimo aggiornamento: 26 Maggio 2013
Home > The long thread of history

The long thread of history

Situated in the heart of Tuscany, Prato is the ideal starting point for the region's other famous cities of art. On the doorstep of Florence, just 10 km from "Vespucci" airport, and halfway between Rome and Milan, Prato boasts a strategic position for business trips as well as holidays.
The capital city of a province composed of seven municipalities, Prato is known for its wool textile manufacture, existing since medieval times and playing an important role in the economic and social growth of the entire district and which now, with its modern factories, has been moved to the industrial areas.
The present, therefore, has its roots in a past steeped in industry and creativity, qualities which have made the people of Prato an example for the manufacturing industry right throughout the whole of Europe.
Yet until the discovery of one of Tuscany's largest Etruscan settlements in the area of Gonfienti in 1997, it was thought that the history of the city was relatively recent, beginning in the Middle Ages - around the X century - with the two adjacent villages of Borgo al Cornio and Castrum Prati.
The two nuclei merged the following century and thus began the growth of Prato, which in the XIII century reached 15 thousand inhabitants thanks to the birth of manufacturing activities that required both labour as well as the construction of new buildings.
Wool textile manufacture made Prato into a renowned centre and over the centuries the city was contended by and a target of the expansion plans of nearby Florence.
The dawn of the industrial age made Prato into the "Manchester of Tuscany", one of the most active cities and a major source of employment also for immigrants and people from the surrounding towns, with a high level of textile specialisation and a marked orientation towards exports.
This led to a population boom which, from 1951 on, has never stopped, rising from the 78,000 inhabitants of the mid twentieth century to its present day figure of 185,000.
In 1992, after a long wait, Prato became a province in its own right, obtaining administrative independence from Florence. The area covering Florence, Prato and Pistoia stands as one of the largest urban areas in Italy.

One of the symbols of the city

The Castello dell’Imperatore, or Emperor’s Castle, situated in the heart of the old city, is undoubtedly one of the most important historical symbols of the city. Erected on the order of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, the castle was built to put the main routes linking the south of the country with Germany under military control, in particular the road leading from Montepiano pass through the Bisenzio valley to the heart of Tuscany.

The area

Region: Tuscany
Province: Prato
Altitude: 74 m.a.s.l.
Surface area: 97,59 km2
Population: 185.295
Density: 1.902,25 ab./km2
Municipalities: Cantagallo, Prato, Montemurlo, Carmignano, Vaiano, Poggio a Caiano, Vernio, Cantagallo.


Ufficio Relazioni Esterne:

Per informazioni:

Tel. 0574/612.715
Fax 0574/ 612733
Indirizzo: via del Romito 71


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