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August 8, 2010

Prato

Filed under: Uncategorized — Darren Hackett @ 10:31 am

Prato is Florence little sister.  Just a few miles nearer to Vellano than Florence it is actually Tuscany’s second largest city, even though you may hardly have heard of it.  It is a town that is very much a commuter town for Florence but is also famous for being a town based on the textile industry, and is sometimes known as the Manchester of Italy.

Actually the centre of town is quite small but has some medieval treasures of its own.  The photo shows the front of the cathedral of Saint Stefano with its unique external pulpit.  This pulpit was to show to the people in the square below, on special days of the year, ‘the sacred girdle’ , or leather belt of the Virgin Mary.  The pulpit was sculptured by Donatello & Michelozzo in the 15th century.  The cathedral itself is a beautifully proportioned building in layers of dark green and white marble.  Inside there are some fantastic frescoes by Filippo Lippi, the most famous is known as Salome dancing; and also by Paulo Uccello (The birth of the Virgin Mary).

It is one of the pleasures for us that we can visit these places a little piece at a time, as there is always so much to see.  Next week is the feast of the assumption, Italy’s most important holiday, we are told. We look forward to the fireworks and we also look forward to seeing Tosca at the open air Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago on Friday.  We will review these for you in forthcoming blogs.

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