to Florence PRATO. 63. Route. 455
esque castle of Montemurlo comes into view, near which the Floren¬
tine republicans Baccio Valori and Filippo Strozzi were defeated
and taken prisoners by the troops of Cosimo I. in 1537.
511/2 M. Prato in Toscana (210 ft.; Alb. Giardino, Via Mag-
nolfl; Stella d'Italia, Piazza del Duomo; Trattoria il Commercio,
Piazza del Duomo; Caffé delle Logge, Piazza del Comune), a
well-built town of 17,200 inhab., on the Bisenzio, with beautiful
environs, is a manufacturing place, of which straw-plait is one of
the staple commddities, and is also noted for its excellent bread and
biscuits (biscotti, cantucci). It formerly belonged to Florence, whose
fortunes it shared throughout the middle ages. In 1512 it was taken
by storm by the Spaniards under Cardona. The oíd town-walls still
In the 15th cent, thia small provincial town attracted numeroua Floren¬
tine artista, so that a visit to it ia indispensable, to those who desire to
be thoroughly acquainted with the Earlt Renaissance style of Florence.
An important work by Donatello and Michelozzo, several compositions by
Andrea della Robbia, and a superb bronze aereen bear teatimony to the
importance of Prato in the history of Renaissance sculpture. Among the
painters of the place were Filippo and Filippino Lippi, Sandro Botticelli,
and Fra Diamante. The church of the Madonna delle Carceri at Prato also
forma a very striking example of Renaissance architecture. This edifice
(erected by Giuliuno da Sangallo) exhibits the transition from early to
high Renaissance, and shows how anxioualy íhe archilecta of the day
directed their attention to the design of a Greek cross covered with a dome.
From the station we follow the Via Magnolfl, the flrst street to
the left, to the (4 min.) Piazza del Duomo.
The Duomo, begun in the 12th cent, in the Tuscan-Romanesque
style, was completed by Giovanni Pisano in 1317-20 in the Gothic
style. The campanile, in the Lombard style, is by Niccolb di Ceceo
(1340). On the facade, rebuilt after 1413 by Niccolb d'Arezzo, is a
pulpit, adorned by Donatello and Michelozzo, in 1434-38, with *Re-
liefs (dancing children) and a fine bronze capital. From the pulpit
the highly-revered Sacra Ciñióla, or 'girdle of the Virgin', preserved
in the cathedral, is periodically exhibited to the people. Over the
principal entrance a *Madonna with SS. Stephen and Lawrence in
terracotta, by Andrea della Robbia (1489).
Interior (very dark), Over the Principal Entrance the Virgin deliver-
ing the girdle to St. T bomas, by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. The mural paintings
in íhe Cappella della Cintola (the Virgin presenting her girdle to Sí.
Thomas; discovery of the girdle in Palestine by a native of Prato) are the
best worka of íhe kind by Agriólo Gaddi (early work ; 1365). On the altar is a
marble statuette of the Virgin by Giovanni Pisano; handsome bronze 'Screen
executed in 1444 by the Florentine Bruno di Ser Lapo Mazzei (1444), the frieze
by Pasquino di Matteo da Montepulciano (1461-64). A small room adjoining
the chapel on the righi contains reliefs (Death of the Virgin, Presentation
of the Girdle) in the style of the School of Pisa. — In the Choir, at the
back of the high-altar, are the 'Histories of John the Baptisí and St. Stephen
by Fra Filippo Lippi (1456-64), in fresco, the flnest work of this master
(somewhal injured): on the right (above) Birlh and Naming of íhe Baptist;
his Withdrawal to íhe wildernesa and his Preaching; Dance of íhe daughter
of Herodiaa (a portraií of íhe nun Lucrezia Buíi, íhe painter'a miatresa);
hv the window. on the rieht: Beheadine of Sí. John: above il a aaint.