The award-winning factory in the heart of Prato where, amidst couture collaborations and theatrical performances, the world’s most famous “blue” biscuits have been produced since 1858. The only one of this kind celebrated also with a dedicated museum and even a postage stamp.
Located in the heart of Prato, the Premiata Fabbrica Antonio Mattei is more than just a bakery. Having produced the famous biscuits since 1858 and thanks to its iconic blue packaging, it has become a symbol of the city all over the world.
The laboratory where the “biscotti di Prato” are made has never changed address ever since. Both the bakery and the shop are, in fact, located in central Via Bettino Ricasoli, just a step away from Piazza Duomo and the Cathedral of Santo Stefano. open to the public can also be found.
Our blue bag has travelled all around the world, brought as a gift by the industrialists of Prato to represent our city and its excellences.(Elisabetta Pandolfini)
As soon as you cross the threshold, you are overwhelmed by an irresistible scent that recalls the sweets baked “by grandmas” on Sundays. These are authentic suggestions as the biscuit recipes have never changed over time, remaining faithful to the perfect alchemy created by Mattei and now carried on by the 4 Pandolfini brothers: Francesco, responsible for production, Marcella, in administration, Elisabetta, in charge of communication, and Letizia, who manages the shop and the museum, all committed to protecting this precious heritage with love.
The story of Antonio Mattei’s award-winning factory is a tale of passion and success: from the founder, who with tenacity and hard work was able to bring a dream to life, to his successor, Ernesto Pandolfini, who started his career here as a shop assistant, then taking over the business in 1920 till the management of his 4 grandsons today. Their 2 portraits in black and white stand out side by side on the central wall of the shop just to tell everyone this beautiful heritage.
At the beginning, the factory mainly produced bread and pasta, while sweets were traditionally only baked on Sundays. When the management passed to Ernesto Pandolfini, the production of sweets was gradually increased, becoming the primary activity. In addition to the classic Prato biscuits with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds, or chocolate, the line includes other specialties such as Brutti Buoni and the famous Mantovana cake.
The Biscotti di Prato were named as such to distinguish them from their cousins, the cantucci, whose original recipe was also developed by Mattei and for which he received awards and even a special mention at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition. While the recipe for cantucci called for the addition of anise, the Biscotti di Prato contain only almonds and four other ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, and pine nuts. Handmade, the company uses only the finest raw materials and trusted historical suppliers such as Antinori for Vin Santo wine. Most of the production is still performed manually, such as the separation of egg yolks, in order to maintain the unique balance that has made the biscuit factory so famous, to the point that it has been dedicated a postage stamp in 2016.
The biscuits are characterized by a truly unique packaging: the blue of the classic packages has, in fact, been trademarked and in 2019 and Pantone recognized Mattei’s exclusive use of it. This is noteworthy considering that there is only one other company in the world that can boast of such a feature. Furthermore, all the little packs are tied by hand by expert pastry chefs, including the special editions with salted caramel almonds made for the Dispensa project of Gucci Osteria, which stands out in this sweet “blue sea” with its original pink.
Even the gift packaging is beautiful, from the hatboxes, which pay homage to the vintage packaging used in the 1930s and 1940s, to the collectible tins designed by Florentine illustrators Simone Massoni and Ilaria Fallosi, who boasts collaborations with Montblanc and Church in their portfolio. All the products are also available for purchase in the biscuit factory’s online shop.
A story so rich that, to celebrate its 160-year anniversary, the company decided to open a museum dedicated to the Mattei world. Open to the public and visitable during regular shop hours, it is located a stone’s throw from via Tornabuoni in the most famous quadrilateral of Florence. Here you can browse through memorabilia, vintage objects, letters, and antique machinery, perhaps after having tasted the shop’s coffee, which many consider being one of the best in the city.
And if you want to continue dreaming, you can watch on YouTube the theatrical show Il Sogno di Ernesto, filmed right inside the Prato laboratory, which tells the story of a young Ernesto Pandolfini who, from the war front, dreams of returning home to reopen his beloved biscuit factory.
The first tin in the collection designed by the creative duo Massoni and Fallosi dates back to 2016, from which 3 others have been produced, including the latest series called Tosca as a tribute to Tuscany. Inside the beautiful designs created by the illustrators, many “family” symbols and numbers have been hidden for fun. For example, in the Clara tin, there is a hidden father figure, almost impossible to notice if you are not a member of the Pandolfini family.
Prato Almond Biscuits: starting from 7,50 euro (250gr package)
Gucci Osteria special edition Salted Caramel Almond Biscuits: 20 euro (250gr package)
Tins and hatboxes: starting from 13,50 euro (200gr package)
Gift sets: starting from 32,90 euro