Benvenuti a Prato
This is where I was born and raised. Prato is popular for its textile industry and, more recently, for the amazing rate of chinese immigration.
For forty years, from the 50s to the 90s, Prato was one of the fastest growing economic centers in Italy. Its small sized, often family owned, factories meshed into a so called "industrial district" to give this city international economic relevancy. It was a time of shared prosperity: the small factories yielded a special relationship between owners and workers that led to higher salaries and somewhat shared profits. Bluecollar workers in this city were better off than anywhere in Italy.
By the late 80s, Prato's economic model was declining.
Competition from Third World countries struck the city's economy. Incompetent and indisciplined sons ruined the family businesses hardworking fathers had created.
Now, Prato is often a case-study in economic sciences, but it's unique model seems destined to decline.
Among famous people, Prato was home to Oscar winning director-actor Roberto Benigni.
Prato, like most italian cities, has been here forever. It was settled more or less a millenium ago. It has always been a center for commerce and trade. It is believed that promissory notes (bills of exchange) were invented by Marco Datini of Prato.
Accountancy and book-keeping, which were first organized as exact disciplines in the arab world, were imported into Europe by a man from Prato, Paolo Dagomari, who translated the arab manual into latin and italian.
In more recent times, Prato was heavily bombed during World War II. It was rebuilt with little attention to aesthetics. Factories were built next to homes, or even under homes, so most suburbs are all but nice.
The city center is still quite charming, and a great effort to keep it in good shape has been done by the last administration.
Anyway, welcome to Prato. Try our "biscotti", see our castle, and visit the museum of modern art (tips on the way!)..