Pratolino Park by Catalena Diamente

Pratolino Park was originally a Medici villa built for the Grand duke
of Tuscany, Francesco I di’ Medici in 1568. It was the largest estate
owned by the family and housed a huge garden in mannerist style, containing
artwork of names like Cellini, and Giambologna. Throughout time this
land was deserted, bought, sold and passed down through royal families
such as the Lorraine, and Demidoff. During these years the Villa
was demolished due to safety concerns.  Another villa was built off of
a remaining structure (Villa Demidoff) when it was owned by Russian
prince Pavel Demidoff.  Many original buildings and art still remain
today, such as the Chapel built by Buontalenti in 1580, the Appennino
Giant by Giambologna in 1580, the Cupid’s Grotto by Buontaltenti and
the Foutain of Mugnone.  The park is also home to ancient foliage such
as Cedar oak, Conker, and English oak trees.

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The main attraction is the Colossus statue or Appennino Giant by
Giambologna. It is his largest work standing at 35 feet. The
statue houses secret rooms, fountains (one of which comes out of the
fish the man is squeezing) and a fire place that when lit lets smoke out
of the statues nose! Giambologna is renowned for creating statues that
are meant to be seen from multiple vantage points, so take a walk
around. In the back you will find steps, an opening for the rooms, and
a dragon. An amazing work of art nestled between trees and a pond
filled with lily pads, only adding to its grandeur.pratolino-colossus.jpg

The park is enormous, full of nature, soft rolling hills, beautiful
pathways lined with Burch trees, amazing caves, and gardens.  A must
see destination while in Florence. Entrance to the park is free, yet
it is still very quiet and does not traffic many tourists. This is not
something that is found often in Florence and makes for a very
authentic experience. There is no rush to see everything or jockeying
for position to snap a picture, you can just come relax and enjoy the
view. Couples can be seen having a picnic, enjoying the afternoon sun.
I invite you to do the same!  If not, there is a great local restaurant
right up the road from the park, which has options for everyone
(including vegans)! This is a real hidden gem of Florence! Only a bus
ride away, take the 25A from Piazza San Marco and you will be there in
30 minutes!

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