A garden of delights, colossal statues and water features
The Medicean Park of Pratolino in Florence is a splendid garden commissioned by Francesco I de’ Medici in the 16th century. The original Italian-style park featured avenues, terraces and walls, divided into two main areas, later enlarged over the centuries.
The upper area, nicknamed the park of the Ancients, housed Bandinelli’s Jupiter, Giambologna’s Apennine Colossus, the villa and an avenue of fountains leading to the lower area, the park of the Moderns, with Cupid’s Grotto, the “Mask” pool, an aviary and a fountain.
The grottoes, fountains and water features have been described by many renowned travellers and the contraptions running the park have been copied in other great gardens, from Salzburg to Paris. In the 19th century, a romantic-style garden-landscape with meandering paths, ponds and groves was added by the Lorraine and Demidoff families, who rebuilt the villa and restored the stables and chapel.
Pratolino was the largest park among the Medici estates and the best artists of the time worked on it. The 14-metre-high statue of the Apennine Colossus by Giambologna has become the symbol of the park. In a cove at its base, you can access a staircase that leads up to the head of the statue.