Places in Prato:
Museums

Palace of memory, identity and culture of the city of Prato

Datini Palace

Palace of memory, identity and culture of the city of Prato

Casa Datini represents the most illustrious example in Prato of a medieval merchant's house. It is located near the Town Hall and intended by its owner, the famous "Merchant of Prato," to fulfil a public role, as it did in hosting the King of Naples, Louis II of Anjou, in 1409 and 1410. A Palace in which Francesco di Marco Datini had invested huge financial resources, and through which he symbolically projected himself, transforming it into a whole city block in a public sign of his personality: it was designed to last through the centuries, imprinted in the very heart of the city where he had been born and which he had left to build his extraordinary fortune throughout Europe. Since 2009 the ground floor premises of the Palace have been turned into a museum dedicated to the history of its owner, his house and the charitable institution, "Ceppo dei poveri di Francesco di Marco", that the merchant founded and to which he chose to leave all his assets.

In the frescoed rooms on the ground floor one can admire the beautiful residence and the works of art that adorn it, and also retrace the merchant's personality, his relationship with his wife Margherita, his business activities, the history of the construction of the palace and of the Ceppi charitable institution, housed here since 1410. Through the rich iconographic and didactic materials in the rooms, in Italian and English, the selection of original letters (among which, a particularly fascinating one from Margherita), and the paintings and the frescoes on the walls, visitors can become acquainted with the merchant's life and business activities which, from Prato, extended to Florence, Pisa, and Genoa, and then, abroad, to Avignon and as far as Spain, with branches in Barcelona, Valencia and Mallorca.

In addition to the museum section, Palazzo Datini houses prestigious scientific institutions such as the State Archives, with its wealth of historical documents, the International Institute of Economic History, the Institute for Postal History Studies and the Association of Historic House Museums, thus representing the "Palace of memory, identity and culture" of the city of Prato.