Prato - the sweetest city in Italy

Prato, the sweetest city in Italy. In Italian, Prato is being described as a 'città deliziosa', a delicious city. Not only is it a lovely compliment but in this case it is a fitting description. In addition to being celebrated for the manufacture of fabrics, for which Prato is famous across the world, the city finds its most natural expression in the art of confectionery and pastries for which it is well known throughout Italy. Prato and and its hinterland boast over 60 high quality patisseries where citizens love to enjoy their daily breakfast. Prato is also a city of imagination with the result that the local desserts are proposed in infinite varieties: from puff pastries filled with custard ('scendiletto') and soft 'berlingozzo' ciambelle, to the famous brioche known as Peaches of Prato. To these add  'bread with grapes', Vernio sweets and figs of Carmignano.

It is then a few steps to reach the Antonio Mattei biscuit factory , which since 1858 has kept the original recipe of Prato biscuits, cantucci made of flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds, obtained by cutting the dough transversally: still today they are packaged in the iconic packages blue. Since 1858, Antonio Mattei has been producing Italian biscotti and confections in the historic bakery and shop located on Via Ricasoli, in the heart of the old city of Prato, Tuscany.

He was the first to develop the recipe for almond biscotti, commonly known as “Cantucci” or “Cantuccini.”  His original recipe was awarded a prize at the Exhibitions in Florence (1861), London (1862) and Paris (1867. The recipe is still kept as a secret of the Pandolfini family, who inherited the old bakery in 1904, and are now in their fourth generation of running it.

The freshly baked products of the Biscottificio Mattei are also very famous. Such as the famous Pesche di Prato based on an ancient local recipe, but also a greedy symbol of the city.  The city has birthed several iconic desserts and pastries but one of the most visually appealing has to be Pesche di Prato, a brioche bun that mimics the appearance of a peach. The bun is halved, cored, filled with vanilla custard, placed back together and dipped into an Italian liqueur called Alchermes, coated with sugar and topped with a mint leaf to complete the look.

Paolo Sacchetti , Florentine origins, Prato by adoption, since 1989 has begun to change the sweet art scene. They come from all over for its Prato peaches , fruit-shaped brioches dipped in alchermes (once known as “ Medici liquor ”) and filled with cream. Here the pastry chef is with his son Andrea, an inherited and nascent talent. 

Peaches from Prato are a cult among the city's sweets. This is the recipe of Paolo Sacchetti of the Pasticceria Nuovo Mondo set in the historic center of the Tuscan city that hosts the EatPrato event. The first historical evidence seems to date back to 1861, when the dessert was served for the first time at the Contrucci inn, in Piazza Duomo, on the occasion of the feast of the Unification of Italy.

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