Prato is a town a few kilometres from Florence, and is essentially the garment district of Italy.
Most people I know dislike Prato rather strongly, particularly Beppe, who has an amazing aptitude for getting lost any time he's in the area. So if I feel the need to go there (and that happens often) I have to go myself, or con someone else into going with me.
Usually its for fabrics or notions, which I can buy wholesale and in bulk, and there are warehouses that stretch on forever with any type of fabric you could imagine. In short, Heaven.
Other reasons I love Prato is that its full of old factories (what goes on in there?) clothing outlets (less interesting) and loads of fantastic Chinese restaurants. Prato, I've heard, has the fastest growing Chinese population in Europe. Chinese workers were brought in for cheap labour in the 80's and are now running the show. So what isn't made in Chinese factories in China is now made in Chinese factories in Prato! But with the movement offshore of a lot of production, including most big name Italian fashion brands, Prato is losing relevance in the garment manufacture world.
It also has a castle, and this is my lovely friend Chelsea in front of the castle, in the rain.
We met up for a small antique fair, and while there was mainly jewelry on offer, I managed to find what i was looking for, and picked up some embroidered table linens, a small hand knitted rug and a lovely old dinner set, all of which I want to use in my new tour. Are you getting curious yet?
Here's a closeup of a teacup, with gold detail. Very elegant.
I spent the afternoon working on the website, adding this new tour and freshening it up a bit for Spring. No-one else is as convinced as me that Spring is upon us, but every now and then they sky opens up all lovely blue and the birds fly around and everything outside seems to be yawning and stirring. Seems to me anyway.