Riding the Rail, Riding the Walls, Part 2

From Pistoia we got on the train toward Florence but stopped at another walled medieval town, Prato. It was a long walk to the walls of the city and we reached the cathedral shortly before it closed. The cathedral is dedicated Saint Steven Martyr (Stefano). The draws were the 15th century Filippo Lippi frescoes behind the main altar. One side showed scenes of Saint Steven’s life and martyrdom, and the other side reflected the same scenes in the life of Saint John the Baptist. Prato is the place where Lippi met the nun, Lucretia Buti who became his wife. The famous relic is Mary’s Belt. The legend relates the belt (or girdle) was dropped to Saint Thomas the apostle as she was assumed into heaven. As Thomas had doubted the resurrection until he had proof, the belt served as proof of Mary’s Assumption. The relic came to Prato as a dowry of a young noblewoman to a local nobleman. The belt is housed in a special chapel in the cathedral. The cathedral also has an exterior pulpit designed by Donatello.

Nearby was a castle started but not finished by Frederick II. This became part of the city fortifications. Now it provides views of the city.

Interior of cathedral. Prato, Italy.

Interior of cathedral. Prato, Italy.

Altar with Mary's belt. Cathdral. Prato, Italy.

Altar with Mary’s belt. Cathdral. Prato, Italy.

Castle. Prato, Italy.

Castle. Prato, Italy.

Entrance to castle. Prato, Italy.

Entrance to castle. Prato, Italy.

View from Castle (Church of Maria della Carceri). Prato, Italy.

View from Castle (Church of Maria della Carceri). Prato, Italy.

View from Castle (Church of Maria della Carceri). Prato, Italy.

View from Castle (Church of Maria della Carceri). Prato, Italy.

View from Castle. Prato, Italy.

View from Castle. Prato, Italy.

It was a busy day. The pedometer on our phones registered 15 miles walked. We returned to Florence for a dinner that included cinghiale (wild boar).