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Ancient Tiratoi in Piazza Mercatale

Prato and the art of wool

Piazza Mercatale, the largest medieval square in Europe opened like a large meadow on the Bisenzio. The large space was delimited by the walls along the river; the Porta Mercatale and the bridge over the Bisenzio closed the space in the particular almond shape. Along the Mercatale there were modest houses and artisan shops. A story in history in Piazza Mercatale: in 1531 the Arte della lana association had built drawers. Spaces for public use intended for individual wool dealers, who could "pull" and dry the wool here. Cloths, diapers, wools, bags, bales and baskets filled the square. The woolen cloths were hung out in the open by hanging the upper part of the cloth on the horizontal rod by means of special hooks. After that, the fabric was also fixed in the lower part on a special stick and was kept in tension.

In 1775 however the Prato guilds of the arts were suppressed and the drawers passed under the management of the Municipality. In 1932, the ancient drawers were mercilessly demolished to make room for the Casa del Fascio. The regime organized a national competition in which about twenty urban planners took part. The project was won by the architect Brunetto Chiaramonti in the presence of a judging commission with Curzio Malaparte and Ardengo Soffici.
Various historical periods have influenced the history of the ancient drawers, but in any case they have nevertheless remained a symbol of the best local traditions and have given light and fame to the ancient medieval square of Prato.