Tag Archives: Prato

Answer to: Just another mystery travel photo

Because I always assume my readers are a bit like me, and tend to forget stuff, here is the recent photo to refresh your memory.


That fellow was enjoying a time of meditation and hope on the banks of the Bisenzio River in Prato. Prato is a city of about 190,000 in the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s about 30 minutes by train to Florence, so that was convenient. 

An article from 2020 comments: “In the Tuscan city of Prato, Italy, there are nearly 5,000 workshops run by Chinese entrepreneurs turning out cheap clothing for the fast-fashion companies of Italy and Europe. Many of these workers sleep in their factories and work more than 14 hours a day under sweatshop conditions.” 


So, not the most pleasant of cities to live in, perhaps. 


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The new and the old in Prato

In the wide Piazza San Marco stands an eye catching marble sculpture which was donated to the city by the English artist, Henry Moore. The massive work is made from 30 blocks of marble, chosen by Moore from the Apuane quarries.

Moore titled it most romantically “Square shape with cut”. 

Contrasting with this modern work is a painted crucifix from the 14th century, found in the 13th century church of San Domenico. This crucifix was the work of Lorenzo di Niccolò.

This church is rather huge, as shown by a view from the side.

The bas reliefs that adorned this side of the church have become softly eroded by time and the elements.

And, I might finish with a stemma, also found in Prato.



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A river flows through it

The Bisenzio River, a tributary of the Arno River,  flows through Prato. Yesterday, I noticed quite a few anglers out trying their luck. (Or just passing time, perhaps.) 

This fellow caught a nice sized fish just a moment after he cast the lure into the water. He’ll be having lovely fresh fish for dinner, I’d say.

I also saw many nutria on the river bank and in the water, but they proved difficult to capture on the camera. Nutria are described as ‘a cross between a beaver and a New York sewer rat’! Happily, I found a video on YouTube that shows the river, these semi-aquatic rodents AND fish. I really didn’t even have to leave the apartment today.

PS This is blog post 1000, according to the WordPress counter. Happy whatever to the blog.


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Thank you, Jane!

Last year, Jane asked me to find and take photos of  particular stemme (family coats of arms) in Prato. As  luck would have it, the site seemed to be under restoration, so I couldn’t see them at all. It was the same story at the Ospedale del Ceppo, in Pistoia, where I had hoped to see the ceramics by Giovanni della Robbia. Totally covered, totally inaccessible.

So, acceding to the wishes of Jane, today I got on the train and went to Prato, and then back to Pistoia, and I’m very glad I did.

Firstly, here are the photos for Jane. I’m sure she’ll report back as to which family (or families) owned the stemme.





Having achieved that goal, I got back on the train and went to Pistoia. Before finding the Ospedale, I had another fine meal. This time, I chose pappardelle al sugo di cinghiale (wide noodles, with wild boar sauce), and verdure saltate (sauteed vegetables). A glass of local merlot completed my tasty and healthy meal.

The Ospedale was founded in 1277, and became the main hospital of the city in 1348. (It no longer fulfills that function.)


The loggia is decorated with a ceramic glaze frieze by Santi Buglioni, portraying seven works of mercy, and scenes of the virtues.

Here are just a few of these works of art.

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The tondoes  (a Renaissance term for a circular work of art) are by Giovanni della Robbia, and depict the Annunciation, the Glory of the Virgin, the Visitation and the Medici coat of arms.

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As I turned to leave, a sign caught my attention. A tour of a subterranean area of Pistoia was on offer! I called the number on the sign, and soon met the young man from the Ospedale office who would be my guide. It turned out we would be going underneath the hospital complex, where once a river ran. The water was used to grind grain into flour, and to press olives for the oil. I guess the river has been diverted now, as we had totally dry feet during our walk.


Here are my guide and his apprentice at the end of the tour, quenching their thirst at a fountain. Thank you to both of you!




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