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Prato

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Prato (ZIP code 59100) is the Chief Town of the homonymous province to whom the municipality belongs.

Prato has a population of 170.388 inhabitants (Pratesi) and a surface of 97,59 square kilometers thus showing a population density of 1.745,96 inhabitants per square kilometer. It rises 61 metres above the sea level.

The City Hall is located in Piazza del Comune, phone ++39 0574 - 6161, fax ++39 0574 - 615212: the E-Mail address is comune.prato@comune.prato.it.

Population: The municipality of Prato had a popolation of 165.707 inhabitants accordingly to the results of the national census made in 1991. After the national census made in 2001 the population was 170.388 inhabitants, thus showing during the years 1991 - 2001 a percentual variation of 2,82% inhabitants.

The inhabitants are distributed in 62.941 families with an average of 2,71 people per family.

The place: The territory of the municipality lies between 30 and 818 metres above sea level.

The altimetric spawn is thus of 788 metres.

Copyright © Editori dell'Acero Piazza Duomo

Work and workers:There are 8.002 industrial firms employing 30.593 people that are the 43,26% of the total of the workers. There are 4.810 service firms employing 10.511 people that are the 14,86% of the total of the workers. There are also 5.292 firms employing 19.295 people that are the 27,28% of the total of the workers. There are also 1.072 administrative offices emplying 10.321 workers that are the 14,59% of the total of the workers.

There is a total of 70.720 workers, that are the 41,51% of the inhabitants of the municipality.

Prato rises along the right bank of the Bisenzio river.

The town is one of the most important centre for the wool industry, to which numerous food making, chemical, metallurgical and clothing production industries add to increase the local economy. Remarkable is also the activity of the artisan manufacture of the potter's clay.

The locality got its actual name between the IX-th and XI-th century by its founders, who were vassal who, enfranchising from the Guidi Counts, bought a "grassland" (the word Prato means grass) and established there their residence.

The first settlements in the area of Prato go back to the Bronze Age, as testified by the numerous archaeological finds came to light.

Then Prato was populated first by the Etruscans and then by the Romans. The Romans gave a great impulse to the local economy by building the so called "Via Clodia", that was a prolongation of the "Via Cassia", which along a flourishing trade developed.

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In 570 Prato subdued first the invasion of the Longbards and then, in the VIII-th century, the occupation of the Carolingian people.

The birth of the village and its real consolidation occurred between the IX-th and XI-th century, when some vassals of the Guidi Counts, who owned the territory, bought a land and built a village.

At the end of the XI-th century the village of Prato was formed around a parish entitled to Saint Stephen and a castle, being this latter a Guidi's property, and it was also circled by a ring of walls.

Between the XII-th and XIII-th century the local rural economy, that was the main source of richness, transformed into a trading economy. The cattle breeding and the presence of river promoted the development of the artisan manufacture of the wool.

At that time Federico II of Svevia started a great fortification of the village: the ancient walls were restored, a fortress was built on the remains of the ancient castle and also the whole town and its roads were restored.

In 1351 Prato was bought by the city of Florence, that, after the siege subdued by Castruccio Castracani of Antelminelli, fortified its whole countryside.

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Along the XV-th century Prato was subdued to the domination of the Medici's family, who built numerous palaces and luxurious villas. The building of the "Saint Mary of the Prisons Church" goes back to that period on a design of the architect Giuliano da Sangallo (1443-1516).

The XVII-th century was a period of economic decline mainly caused by the Florentine protectionism that leaded to a reconversion of the economy back from industrial to rural.

Only the coming of the Lorena's Dukes to the power, occurred on the beginning of the XVIII-th century, raised the economic chances of Prato. The Lorena promoted the development of the ancient manufacture of the wool that reached its maximum splendour between the end of the XVIII-th century and the first decades of the XIX-th century.

By building the first industrial factories and the first spinning machines, the wool productions gained the whole European market thanks to its quality and elegance.

In 1861 Prato was annexed to the Reign of Italy by the King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia.

Among the most important monuments to see in Prato we point out here the Duomo (Cathedral), the Chiesa di San Francesco (Saint Francis Church), the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Carceri (Saint Mary of the Prisons Church), the Chiesa di San Domenico (Saint Domenico Church), the Castello dell'Imperatore (Emperor's Castle), the Palazzo Datini (Datini Palace), the Palazzo Comunale (Municipal Palace), the Palazzo Pretorio (Praetorian Palace), the Museo di Pittura Murale (Wall Painting Museum), the Museo Civico (Civic Museum), the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Cathedral's Opera Museum) and the Teatro Metastasio (Metastasio Theatre).

Among famous people who were born in Prato we remind here the writer Giovanni Gherardi named "Giovanni da Prato" (1360-1446), whose most famous poem is "Il Paradiso degli Alberti" (Alberti's Paradise).

Among the numerous celebrations periodically taking place in Prato we point out the traditional "Textiles Show" held yearly from the end of April to December and consisting of an exhibit of six thousand models of textiles coming from different country, dating back from the V-th century A. C. to today, and of machines used to spin.