Inside the former Campolmi Textile Mill, Museo del Tessuto is the most important European cultural center dedicated to the textile art of all time, from precious Renaissance brocades to artists’ fabrics to contemporary couture creations, including the iconic evening coat by Elsa Schiaparelli.
Embraced by the splendid fourteenth-century walls, which still retain their original white colour, a true rarity in Tuscany and beyond, the Museo del Tessuto of Prato, founded in 1975 and since 2003 housed in the former Cimatoria Campolmi headquarters, is a point of reference world for lovers of fashion history and industrial archaeology.
The fascinating 8500 m2 complex stands in an area where textile manufacturing was carried out as early as the Middle Ages. In particular, according to archival evidence, a fulling mill stood here in 1326, i.e. a building used for the fulling of wool which, thanks to the merchant Francesco di Marco Datini, became an activity extended to markets throughout Europe. Prato is, in fact, still today, one of the major international textile districts, in particular for the production of fabrics and yarns for clothing and furnishings.
Ancient things made by intelligent men create intelligence for us and for the men of the future.(Loriano Bertini, entrepreneur)
The conservative restoration of the structure has been able to enhance its authentic characteristics, preserving the steam boiler room, the beautiful original ceilings and the ancient factory sign, which can be admired while walking through the rooms of the museum. Here, accompanied by Arianna Sarti, curator and exceptional guide, one can admire precious fabrics, such as the “velluto Medici”, from the second half of the 16th century, and ancient sartorial masterpieces, such as a fragment of clavus (a Coptic fabric that decorated the tunics of the time) dating back to the 5th century BC, but also to discover true fashion icons such as the evening cloak designed in 1939 by Elsa Schiaparelli or the artist’s fabrics by Gio’ Ponti and Lucio Fontana.
A sensory journey during which you can touch the various types of yarns, discover the different textile processes and see multimedia installations which, like a cinematic time machine, lead the visitor to retrace the fascinating role of Prato in the history of Italian high fashion and prêt a porter. Not only permanent collections, but also temporary and transversal exhibitions, curated by Arianna in collaboration with prestigious institutes, primarily the Sozzani Foundation, which narrate fashion through images or even stage costumes such as those made for the film Pinocchio by Matteo Garrone or Marie Sophia Coppola’s Antoinette or Puccini’s Turandot.
To enjoy a break, inside the museum complex there is also Schiaccino, one of the leading places in Prato’s food and wine scene. The perfect location for a gourmet break in one of the most extraordinary locations in the city centre, without a doubt, to taste the characteristic “schiacciata” from Prato in a contemporary version paired with a wide range of natural wines.
Managed by three young food entrepreneurs, already owners of another venue in New York and of Triplo, a restaurant in front of the Metastasio Theater in Prato, Schiaccino was born 8 years ago, but the current venue was inaugurated in 2022 integrating with the nineteenth-century structure of the building thanks to an interior design that mixes vintage elements and period furniture, selected by two of the partners Alberto and Guido Gramigne, passionate collectors.
The selection of labels is aimed exclusively at natural wines, personally selected by the third partner, Filippo Brachetti, who offers perfect pairings for each dish. Schiaccino also has a large outdoor area where you can sip a glass or an excellent coffee, coming exclusively from local artisan roasteries, admiring the timeless beauty of the ancient city walls.
The museum also displays precious examples of “heraldic” fabrics, characterized by a pattern that reproduces the identifying emblems of a noble house or an illustrious family, very popular during the Renaissance when it was fashionable to exhibit the “brand” of each family in the most varied ways. These are very rare because they are made of fine silk and also for a special processing of velvet, a dyeing of the yarn in many colors that was very expensive at the time.
Tickets: 6 — 8 euro
Groups (maximum 25 people): 6 euro
Appetizers and snacks: 2,5 — 9 euro
Focaccia and schiacciata: 4 — 8 euro
Salads: 7 — 12 euro
Burgers and sandwiches: 6 — 10 euro