Hidden Florence

Hidden Florence

Image: Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/29iC6e2

You may think that secret giants hidden in rocks are the thing of myths and legends...

Well then you haven't met the Appennine Colossus.

This magnificent gentle giant resides in a park just north of Florence. Having clambered from the surrounding rock, he has taken his seat, perched above a pool where he has been keeping a watchful eye for more than 400 years.

Image: Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/29sGckq

The Appennine Colossus is situated in the park of the Villa Demidoff. The villa and its grounds were originally built by Francesco I de' Medici and his architect Bernardo Buontalenti, mostly during the 1570s.

This incredible statue was the work of Giambologna and is reminiscent of his more famous works, which you may recognise around the centre of Florence. He was a famous sculptor based in the city during the late Renaissance period at the time of the influential Medici family. A couple of his most recognisable works can be seen in the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria.

(Right: 'The Rape of the Sabine Women'. Centre: 'Hercules and Nessus'. Both works of Giambologna)

Just over half an hour away in the Park Demidoff, the Appennine Colossus was once shrouded by the rocks around him and sat amongst other statues, hiding secret grottos and surprise water jets.

The estate was unfortunately abandoned after Francesco's death in 1587, but has since been redesigned and altered a number of times.

The park is now maintained by the province of Florence and provides a lovely area for walks. Many of its original sculptures and features are gone, meaning the Colossus looks wonderfully out of place and mysterious on his little rocky seat.

Image: Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/29j669h

There are, however still a few hidden gems, so keep your eyes peeled for a couple of other little characters and grottoes as you explore.

You can get a tour if you fancy one, by calling the park. But to just wander around there is no entrance fee. To get there head towards Pratolino. If you're coming from the Montorsoli direction on the SR65 you'll see the car park on the left as you arrive in Pratolino and the entrance is just across the road.

Tel. 055 4080721/723 (Monday to Friday)



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