Prato and Florence

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Prato and Florence

We got up pretty early, got cleaned up and are ready to take the train to a couple towns outside of Florence.

Its another cold day but at least today it looks mostly sunny. We took a train from Santa Maria Novella to Prato.

Prato is the home of biscotti, the famous hard, twice-baked cookie that most Florentines dunk in vin santo before eating for desert. We took the train, it was only about 20 minutes to Prato; make sure you get off at the Prato Porta al Serraglio station. We stopped at a little shop near the train station to have a cappuchino and hot chocolate (the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had – you could indeed stand a spoon in it, it was like creamy, rich, warm pudding).

The best hot chocolate I ever had

The best hot chocolate I ever had

We walked down the street to the Duomo; we purchased tickets and, in reading the brochure, realized that not only was there a chapel decorated with frescoes by Filippo Lippi, which were why we took the trip, but also a chapel by Paolo Ucello, whose work is much rarer to find. The story goes that Lippi, a monk at the time, asked if a certain beautiful novice nun, Lucrezia Buti, would model for his Madonnas. He ended up seducing her and having a child with her. She is said to be the figure of Salome dancing in the fresco below – I think he lavished more work on her picture than any other part of the fresco.

Ticket for the Duomo

Ticket for the Duomo

There’s a pulpet on the outside of the church which is used to display the green girdle of the Virgin Mary, a relic brought back to Prato during the Crusades. Three times a year the girdle is brought out for display on the pulpet, which was designed by Michelozzo and sculpted by Donatello.

The crypt under the Duomo was really neat, with a lot of early frescoes and the relics of St. Stephen.

Ticket for the Duomo Museum and the crypt under the Duomo

Ticket for the Duomo Museum and the crypt under the Duomo

We weren’t supposed to take any pictures inside the Duomo or in the crypt, but Aviva snuck a number, which is good since there was no book to purchase!

We then walked down to the Museo di Pittura Murale in San Domenico. Finding it wasn’t easy – we ended up going into the church and a nice person working inside the church directed us. The coolest thing they had were sinopia, drawings done under frescoes.

We had lunch at that same little place where we had the hot chocolate (this time sandwiches too).

Aviva’s finger looked really bad, so we decided to go back to Florence and not go to Pistoia. We got back to Florence and went to the Duomo for a quick look

Then stopped at the hotel to find out where the nearest hospital was. We walked over and spent about 2 hours learning that Aviva’s finger wasn’t broken, and that her wedding ring needed to be cut off; they thought it was white gold (it’s platinum) and so they kept complaining about how slow the cutting was. It didn’t help that they nicked her finger a couple times; I could hear her expletives out in the waiting area. We got to take home the x-rays of her hand.

We did a little shopping (i bought a new pen), and then we had dinner at Ristorante da i 5 amici at Via Cimatori 30.

After all that, we just went right back to the hotel and crashed.

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