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Prato

INFINITI 2014 will be held at Monash University’s Prato Centre.

The Centre occupies the ground and first floors of an 18th century palazzo, called Palazzo Vaj, after the Vaj family who were the original owners. Parts of the building are thought to date back to the medieval period and 15th century frescoes were discovered on one of the outer walls of the palazzo. The main fit-out was executed in the 1950’s by the famous Italian architect, Italo Gamberini, and because of this the first floor and its fittings are preserved under the Italian Heritage Commission.

Prato is a small Tuscan city, with a beautiful historic centre and a vibrant cultural life. Famous for its textile industry, the city has a population of 190,000 inhabitants. Prato has a rich historical and artistic patrimony, including a mid-13th century castle built by the Hohenstaufen Emperors, almost perfectly preserved medieval walls which enclose the ancient city centre, a Romanesque cum Gothic cathedral dedicated to Santo Stefano with an external pulpit by Donatello and Michelozzo, the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri by Giuliano da Sangallo, and the well preserved Palazzo Datini, the late 14th century home of the famous ‘Merchant of Prato’, Francesco Datini. The city is also home to the prestigious Contemporary Art Centre ‘Luigi Pecci’ and many theatres, including the highly acclaimed avant-garde Metastasio Theatre.

Yet to be transformed by mass tourism, Prato provides a perfect environment for immersion in Italian language and culture. Its major sights are predominantly located with the town’s medieval walls and in easy walking distance of the Monash Centre.

The Province of Prato embraces some magnificent countryside, which is well worth visiting. South of Prato lie the towns of Artimino, Poggio a Caiano (with its famous Medici Villa), and Carmignano, an area famous for the production of DOC and DOCG wines and extra virgin olive oil. To the north there are the picturesque mountain towns of Vaiano and Vernio.

The closest airport would be Florence (15 km and 30 minutes away by train), although Prato is also easily accessible from Pisa or Bologna Airports and is on the main Rome-Milan train route.

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