A few km from Florence you find the multiethnic city of Prato and its beautiful countryside. It's a highly diversified area that offers historical attractions such as an Etruscan path, Medici villas and contemporary art.
This itinerary can be downloaded here (pdf)
Prato is also famous for its textile industry and its fine food and wine. Once in Prato, take the road to the beloved Medici countryside and explore Carmignano, Poggio a Caiano and Artimino. Here are a few places where you should stop for a bite to eat and to pick up some delicious souvenirs.
Biscuits of Prato
The first time I visited Tuscany, there were a few foods suggested by my Florentine father on my "must taste list": "Biscotti di Prato" was one of these. The ingredients are only flour, sugar, eggs, almonds and pine nuts, and no rising agent, butter, oil or milk is used. They have been produced by Antonio Mattei’s historical bakery since 1858. You can find "Biscotti di Prato" at the shop there or buy them online. The Biscottificio Antonio Mattei recently launched a new brand of biscuit: Chocolate cantucci.
Carmignano DOCG red wine
Wine has been produced in the Prato countryside since Roman times. In 1716, Carmignano was chosen by Grand Duke Cosimo III to be one of only four areas dedicated to wine production. The award of the prestigious “Motu Proprio decree” and famous Florentine “contract” imposed precise rules and regulations governing production and geographical restriction on trade. This contract made Carmignano the first “DOC” in the world. The presence of Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc in the wine is what makes the great reds of Carmignano exquisitely unique. Today, Carmignano is one of the top 11 DOCG wines in Tuscany.
Strada del Vino di Carmignano shop via Ricasoli 13/15, Prato, open every day, apart from Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm and from 4 to 7:30pm
Mortadella from Prato (protected by Slow Food)
Mortadella of Prato has been made in Prato since the sixteenth century, when it was a lot more popular than it is today. What makes it different is that it is made with special spices and a liqueur called Alchermes. This mortadella should be eaten warm or cold, sliced or cubed, and it goes perfectly with liver paté crostini and all the other classic Tuscan starters.
Carmignano figs (protected by Slow Food) These figs are famous across the country for their taste and their ancestral and natural drying technique. Dried figs from Carmignano are perfect with mortadella from Prato, but you can also have them as a light dessert.
Traditional dishes Prato's cuisine is a simple one, based on traditions deriving from humble dishes. Among the most famous dishes, try stuffed celery (stalks of celery stuffed with ground beef and mortadella), Peaches (a local dessert made with flour, butter, eggs and sugar) and the Mantovana white cake.
Where to eat in Prato by Prato Turismo
Best restaurants in Prato - Search on Vetrina Toscana web portalSee also: A day trip to Prato Fabric is art in Prato Pecchioli: an ancient "bottega" in Carmignano (in Italian)