The Appennine Colossus, italy

Situated at the Villa di Pratolino in Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy. Statue of "Appennino" (1579-1580), a colossal sculpture by Giambologna, which originally seemed to emerge from the vaulted rockwork niche that once surrounded him. Multiple grottoes with water-driven automata, a water organ, surprise jets that drenched visitors' finery when the fontanieri opened secret spigots, offered striking juxtapositions of Art with imitations of rugged Nature.

Situated at the Villa di Pratolino in Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy. Statue of "Appennino" (1579-1580), a colossal sculpture by Giambologna, which originally seemed to emerge from the vaulted rockwork niche that once surrounded him. Multiple grottoes with water-driven automata, a water organ, surprise jets that drenched visitors' finery when the fontanieri opened secret spigots, offered striking juxtapositions of Art with imitations of rugged Nature.


The villa was built by the solitary Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany in part to please his Venetian mistress, the celebrated Bianca Capello. The designer of villa and gardens was his court architect- designer- mechanician- engineer Bernardo Buontalenti, who completed it in a single campaign that lasted from 1569 to 1581; it was finished enough to provide the setting for Francesco's public wedding to Bianca Cappello in 1579. In its time it was a splendid example of the Mannerist garden.

Francesco had assembled most of the property, which was not a hereditary Medici possession, by September 1568, and the construction was begun the following spring. The garden was laid out along a perfectly straight down-slope axis passing through the center of the villa, which stood midway. Down the central descent, the visitor still walks under a cooling arch of fountain jets, without getting wet.

Michel de Montaigne, one of the earliest visitors to leave a description of Pratolino, saw it in 1581, and considered it to have been built, he thought when visiting Villa d'Este, "precisely in rivalry with this place". A long description was published by a Florentine, Francesco de' Vieri, in 1586. Giusto Utens included a view of the southern half of the villa complex among his series of lunettes containing bird's-eye views of the Medicean villas, painted in 1599. Six views were etched by Stefano Della Bella in the mid-17th century, and the picture is rounded out by further 18th century descriptions. Nevertheless, Pratolino has not survived, as other Medici villas have.


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