In the past year, Prato, laced with textile factories, contemporary art venues and shops, has practically exploded with 40 new bars, restaurants, and clubs, attracting the younger hearts of the city. Pratosfera, an online page providing a guide about “144 things to do in Prato and Why”. If it was not for the youth’s interest to transform the nightlife of Prato, many of the traditional spots would have abandoned. Their history and actual physical remnants have not been forgotten, but even incorporated into these new hangouts.
The Court of Via Genova used to be an old factory now serves as a cultural center. The area behind the Fabbricone Theater (a former factory) is now a theater to watch movies outside, while listening to music, eating, and drinking while sitting on large pillows on the ground. The gardens of Sant’Orsola run close to an abandoned hospital, which will soon be demolished to create an even larger park. Another activity that meets the green of the park is the Plaid Festival, where guests can buy a picnic box from local restaurants, and sit on the crisp grass and enjoy the environment.
Moving closer to the historic center (Via Settesoldi and Via Lanaioli), layers of bars and restaurants nestle next to one another, hot spots to find great cocktails and new friends. There is a DJ on the street, making it one huge block party, lighting up the night. Another noteworthy newcomer on the scene is the “Torakiki Cat Café,” where patrons can order a beverage while cuddling fellow feline pals.
There is even a new “Silent Disco” where young people dance wearing headphones.
There are service personnel in the streets to monitor noise and to intervene in the presence of disruptive behavior. To continue the improvement of these new social areas, two projects have been launched to revitalize the spaces. “Urban Creations” is a 12 projects aiming to revitalize abandoned venues, while “Popup Lab” is a program that has identified empty shops and offices with the aim of sponsoring temporary art galleries and other cultural projects on these premises.
Prato is continually growing more and more exciting, attracting locals and tourists alike. Although there has been much innovation, history and customs still peer through the windows of these new establishments.
To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site. (jennifer klammer)