Prato within “gotic” and “pre-Renaissance”

(di Oleg Voskoboynikov)

Among all figures of Italian Middle Ages Frederick II of Hohenstaufen was the one who absorbed my imagination, when I studied history, in Moscow and then in Paris. By that time of hope and openness, in the 90-es, I used to come in Italy in search of ghibelline memories, and traveled between North and South. This iter italicum naturally brought me to Prato. Its proud castle is known to scholars. It stands in the middle of the town, and it’s difficult to imagine a tourist passing by without noticing its imposing silhouette. It is more important to imagine the role this urban artifact played in political iconography of Italy around 1240, when the powerful emperor gave to his court architect Riccardo da Lentini, a Sicilian, the task to rebuild the fortifications in this town. The castle, defensive and symbolic, appeared in a strategic position, in the middle of Tuscany, a chessboard of Guelphs and Ghibellines.