Prato guide

Prato guide
Ultimo aggiornamento: 26 Maggio 2013
Home > Prato Guide > From the territory to the table

From the territory to the table

Prato means textiles, history, art and culture, but also gourmet food, fine dining, intense yet delicate flavours, excellent wines and much, much more.
Wine production has grown immensely over the years, with Carmignano obviously taking centre stage. A deep, vibrant ruby colour, which verges on burgundy with ageing; an intense bouquet with notes of Parma violet and a pronounced elegant character with age; a dry palate, full-flavoured, rounded, balanced, soft and velvety: these are the distinguishing features of Carmignano DOCG wines.
And then there is the ageing process, carried out in oak and/or chestnut barrels for at least eight months for the Carmignano and at least twelve for the Carmignano reserve.
Characteristics that make it a veritable gem of the Tuscan wine scene, something Cosimo III Medici knew only too well, as he recognised this wine as one of the first Italian DOC wines in 1716.
As for other typical products, Prato offers a range of simple yet flavoursome ingredients, in keeping with traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Over recent years, numerous typical local products have been at the centre of a careful process of rediscovery and valorisation.
The most famous of Prato's many delicacies are undoubtedly the biscotti di Prato, erroneously called cantuccini, which have been made in the city for over three centuries. Flour, sugar, unpeeled almonds, yeast and eggs are the sole ingredients used to make these biscuits traditionally served with Vin Santo.
Honoured by Dante Alighieri, who in exile said: "Come sa di sale lo pane altrui" (how salty is the bread of others), the bozza pratese - a rectangular loaf of bread with a dark brown crust and a covering of white flour, was already well known back in the XVI century. The dough, made from bread flour, water and natural yeast, is kneaded again after standing and then cut by hand.
Then there is oil, an area that is fast achieving important results both in terms of quality as well as quantity. The production of extra virgin olive oil in the province of Prato is an increasingly important phenomenon and one which has been at the centre of a veritable boom over recent years with the recovery of olive groves right throughout the province.
The menù alla pratese is completed by Mortadella di Prato, which has recently obtained DOP status, and the dry figs of Carmignano, one of the Slow Food presidia.
Then there are the "special" recipes such as sedani alla pratese (stuffed celery) or pesche di Prato (a local dessert shaped like a peach and soaked in liqueur), all honest yet tasty dishes, fruit of the gastronomic creativity of an area which has succeeded in inventing great flavours with simple ingredients.

The sweet tooth route

Known as the "Biscuit route", it winds down from the first spurs of the Val di Bisenzio Apennines, along the plains and the towns of Prato and Montemurlo as far as the rolling hills of Montalbano, passing though old bakeries, confectioner's and artisan laboratories that bake the traditional biscuits of Prato, known as Cantucci or Cantuccini and made not only with almonds but also with chocolate, pistachios, citrus zest and hazelnuts. The dark brown Brutti Boni have the aroma and flavour of almonds; Zuccherini, dipped in melted sugar after baking, were the biscuits traditionally served at weddings; Amaretti are chewy, almond-flavoured biscuits only slightly larger than a walnut, and finally the latest additions... sassi della Calvana made with chestnut flour and Carmignanini made with dried figs.

Centuries of DOC wine

Carmignano is one of the oldest wines in Italy; in fact, the first written record in which the name of Carmignano wine appears dates back to the end of the XIV century. It is a document in which Ser Lapo Mazzei, a notary public from Carmignano (PO), notifies Marco Datini, a merchant from Prato, that he has ordered fifteen loads of Charmignano wine for his cellar, paying four times the price of other wines from the area (a testament to their superior quality). Carmignano can be considered the ancestor of the so-called Super-Tuscan wines (great Tuscan wines made by blending Sangiovese with international grape varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon or Merlot). In fact, by 1600 it was being produced by adding Sauvignon, a vine variety imported from France by the Medici (and still called "uva Francesca" or "French grapes" in the area today), to Sangiovese. The Carmignano wine production area was defined back in 1716 by Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici, who issued the Bando Sopra la Dichiarazione dé Confini delle quattro Regioni Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano, e Val d'Arno di Sopra, which set out the confines of the area where the aforementioned wines could be produced. There are currently four DOCG (controlled and warranted designations of origin) wines produced in the province of Prato: Carmignano, Carmignano reserve, Carmignano red and Chianti Montalbano, joined by other special wines which are exported all over the world.

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