Prato is the second city in Tuscany, the third in Central Italy (after Rome and Florence) as regards number of inhabitants. It is situated at the heart of the region, not far from the world's most famous cities of art: Florence (18 km.), Lucca (50 km.), Pisa (82 km.) and Siena (79 km.). Prato and its province are ideal destinations for tourists, especially young people looking for a vacation of study and intelligent entertainment. The tourist offer includes art, nature, and the history of textiles; a history still vitally alive today, around which Prato has grown up, on which it has built its prosperity and developed the values of welcoming accommodation and comparison between different cultures. The province includes the communes of Cantagallo, Carmignano, Montemurlo, Poggio a Caiano, Prato, Vaiano and Vernio. It is a highly diversified territory that offers historical/artistic attractions of great interest following an itinerary that starts with the Etruscans, passes through the Middle Ages and arrives at the Avant-garde. Visitors are often surprised to find that a province known the world over as one of the most important textile producers also safeguards a wealth of priceless treasures, where the tradition of good food and ancient memories melds dynamically with everything that is new, modern and youthful.
Prato is located at the outlet of the Bisenzio Valley half way of the plain - which had its origins in a large lake gradually filled up with sediments transported by rivers - on which rise Florence and Pistoia. The town is surrounded by the Calvana mountains and the Monteferrato hills. From industrial and inhabitated areas, woods and cultivated lands can be easily reached.
Different excursions are possible: easy walks along hill tracks (Monteferrato), hard mountain itineraries (High Bisenzio Valley), walks through the rich vegetation discovering Karst formation (Calvana), or covering windy grasslands (high altitude of Calvana). The southern part of the Province of Prato includes the gentle hills of Montalbano, cultiveted with olive trees and vineyards.
Typical dishes and products
Like all Tuscan cooking, Prato's cuisine is a simple one, based on traditions deriving from humble dishes in which the cooks tried to utilise every edible part of their ingredients so as to waste as little as possible. Among the most original local products are the mortadella of Prato and the figs of Carmignano. Delicious sweets abound, with curious anecdotes and histories not to be forgotten: Prato biscuits, "mantovana", "pesche", the "amaretti" of Carmignano, the "Carmignanini", the "zuccherini" of Vernio and the "sassi" (literally, stones) of Calvana. Not to speak of extra-virgin olive oil, to be sampled fresh on the typical bread of Prato - the "Bozza" - and the wines of the Carmignano area, famous and protected already since the time of the Medici, as well as the Pinot Nero of Bagnolo.