The all powerful Medici dynasty of the Italian Renaissance created The Villa di Pratolino and its vast grounds in the hills above Florence in the 16th century. Modelled on the Villa de Este outside Rome it is best known today for a giant sculpture known as the Apennine Collosus.
Built by Giamboligna in 1579 the masonry colossus covered with plaster and stone once had internal grottoes em with decorations , frescoes snd waterworks. Under the group of sculptures there is still the hydrogen chamber which originally hosted the fountain of Narcissus and evinces operated by hydraulic mechanisms . It was restored at the time of Ferdinand de Medici.
The colossus is about 11 metres high and is meant as a personification of the Apennine Mountains. It was the water source for the Pratolino,its fountains and secret water plays.The colossus has the appearance of an elderly man crouched at the shore of a lakeand is surrounded by other sculptures depicting mythological themes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
After Francesco de’ Medici’s death in 1587 and that of his wife Bianca Capello the next day,the villa and its surroundings fell into decay.
The Villa di Pratolino was demolished in 1822 and in 1872, the heirs of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, sold the estate . Eventually the Province of Florence purchased it and the park and its giant are now accessible to the public.
Destination Italy for more information.