Living in Prato :
Prato in the green

Cascine di Tavola

A wonderful park south of the city

Cascine di Tavola, which takes its name from the district in which it is located, is a beautiful farm complex of about 300 hectares in the southern area of the city.
The farm was built in the 15th century at the behest of Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, called The Magnificent, on a design that involved the purchase and transformation of the villa at Poggio a Caiano and the construction of a large rural estate reclaimed from the marshes through a dense network of canals. At that time it was a cattle farm whose production of cheese could meet the demand of the whole of Florence.
The farm, surrounded by a wide moat, is the main building of the estate and it was built between 1477 and 1479 by Giuliano da Sangallo and Giuliano da Maiano, two architects at the service of Lorenzo de’ Medici, who borrowed their design directly from Vitruvius’ treatise 'De architectura'.

In the 16th century, vast experimental rice fields, the first in Tuscany, were planted in the western area of the estate (Pasco and Pinzale farms). The maximum extension and most rational organization of the rural estate was reached in the early 17th century, when its main activities were cattle breeding, dairy production, canal fishing, rice growing and vegetable farming.
Cascine di Tavola was also a place of delights and fun: at the time of the Medici Grand Dukes, the whole estate was connected by avenues on which coaches could travel, there were hunting and fishing areas, two large aviaries, and the Pavoniere enclosure, an area of about 30 hectares where deer were raised for 'the deer race', in which the poor animals were chased by greyhounds. In the 18th century the farm was renovated and given its present appearance. In the Napoleonic period the rice fields were filled in.

In the 19th century the canals, on which boats could sail, were restored and romantic groves and wild areas were created for people to walk in. In the period after the Second World War the farms declined and were gradually abandoned, partly as a consequence of war damage, pollution and clogging of the canals.
Currently most of the area is a beautiful park open to the public, with large meadows and wooded areas.

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