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Cavalciotto of Santa Lucia The thousand-year-old wonder that embodies one of the most extraordinary examples of industrial archeology in Prato

Cavalciotto, a thousand-year-old treasure that defies time, leads visitors to a world where water dances with mastery and strength is tamed by human ingenuity. Here, a majestic weir, a shed with nineteenth-century cast iron machinery and a water divider stand as monuments to the grandeur of man. Its importance lies in the ability to welcome a massive flow of water, calming the destructive fury of the Bisenzio river during deluges and channeling it disciplinedly. This epic challenge even required the opinion of Galileo Galilei way back in 1630.

Originally, this fascinating hydraulic system was conceived to reclaim a vast swamp north-west of the centre of Prato. Over the years, it was improved and exploited not only for drainage and irrigation purposes, but also for defense and, above all, as a source of hydraulic energy. This strong motor power run 58 mills and, over the centuries, gave rise to various production activities, including metallurgical, paper and above all textiles.

The main function of the Cavalciotto was to divert the natural course of the Bisenzio river, giving rise to the legendary Gorone, the largest and most impressive millpond in Prato. Immersed in the millenary history of the Prato area, the complex system of millponds reveals a unique access point to the water of the Bisenzio river: the majestic Cavalciotto, whose name could derive from its position "astride" a bend of the Bisenzio.

From Cavalciotto, through a complex system of flywheels and floodgates perfected in the 19th century, the waters of the river are conveyed towards the Gorone. The first evidence of a mill powered by the Gorone dates back to 1003, attesting the extraordinary potential of this energy source.

Thanks to the power of the waters of the Gorone, the northern area of Prato has established itself as the beating heart of hydraulic factories. Over the course of the 20th century, many of these ancient artifacts were transformed into large industrial complexes, preserving their historical heritage.

Cavalciotto is the fulcrum of a complex water system that winds for 53 kilometres, crossing the entire territory of Prato before flowing into the waters of the Ombrone river.


  • Via Guado a Santa Lucia - Santa Lucia Prato (PO)