Laboratory

Prato

Once upon a time... in the historical center of Prato, a charming Tuscan city, there was a bakery that produced Bread, Pasta and Cantucci: Antonio Mattei's bakery was located a few steps from the Town Hall and overlooked one of the main streets of the city, it was the mid-1800s.

Every day the smell of hot bread spread throughout the street and baskets full of loaves and rolls went in various directions: the supply for Cicognini College, the Seminary dining hall and that of the Misericordia hospital, but also for the Florentine shops, where the "Prato loaf" was appreciated and had already been known for a long time.
But on Sundays... on Sundays after the first baked goods had been taken out of the oven, the smell of bread gave way to that of other specialties and the finer "noses" could have fun guessing what Antonio Mattei was baking: Cantucci with Anise, Almond Biscotti, Fiorentina Schiacciata, Toasted brioche slices, Mantuan cakes, Paste Regine, Ladyfingers...

That oven is still there and the old restored sign still stands out above the two entrance "doors": Antonio Mattei manufacturer of Cantucci, Biscotti and other goods. It is here that the recipe for Prato Almond biscuits was created, today known all over the world (as Cantucci or Cantuccini).

In the early 1900s, the old factory was acquired by the Pandolfini family and still today its descendants are the custodians of Antonio Mattei's secret recipes.
Over the years modern machinery has been introduced, new ovens have taken the place of wood-burning ones and the production team, who are specialized in the ancient sweet recipes, have added a few new ones: Brutti Buoni, Glacé cherry loaves, dark chocolate biscotti, pistachio and almond biscotti, hazelnut biscotti...
But the scent that sweeps along via Ricasoli every day is still the same and smells of flour, eggs, almonds and sugar.
But if, like many others, you find it hard to believe that a biscuit factory still exists in a historical city center... well then we invite you to come inside.

Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato
Antonio Mattei Biscuits Factory | Laboratory Prato

Museum

Florence

The Mattei Museum & Shop is located in a small street that crosses the historic centre of Florence and is only a few steps from the most famous and elegant street Via de' Tornabuoni. This is maybe why it has a slightly more "intimate" atmosphere, crossed by not only tourists but residents too; It is via Porta Rossa, a street suspended in a dimension of its own, which still has some artisan "shops" and a few retro stores.

If you pause for a moment at street number 76 ... just take a step or two forward and peek inside, you will find a beautiful blue color to welcome you.
The blue of those packages arranged in a row on the shelves, still tied by hand with a blue thread, is a tribute to unified Italy and to the blue of the House of Savoy.
And if you are curious people, you can ask what is in those bags, which you won’t know the contents of, unless someone else has already told you about that historical biscuit factory that has been baking its biscuits and packing them every day for more than a century and a half in that particular blue bag. And if you are lucky you will be given a Prato almond biscuit to be enjoyed with an excellent coffee.

Because this is what it is about, an almond biscuit created in the mid-1800s by Antonio Mattei.
But if your curiosity loves history and traditions, then take a peek again and climb those small stairs on the left and be accompanied to the family "living room" where you can see photos, certificates, ancient tools and other interesting relics. Let them tell you how Antonio Mattei opened his factory in via Ricasoli in Prato, about his friendship with Artusi who invited him to open a shop in Florence and about the prizes he won for his Cantucci with Anise and for his Biscotti in Florence, Paris and London. And how after him his son Emilio continued the business, but having no children, in the early 1900s, he sold it to ancestors of the current owners (the Pandolfini siblings) who passionately do all they can to pass on his secret recipes and tell this story.
In this way you will go through a small "portion" of Italian gastronomic history and you will come out with a sweet taste in your mouth.

Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence
Antonio Mattei | Museum & Shop Florence