About 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the north of Florence lies the Parco del Pratolino, once the site the Villa di Pratolino, which was built for Grand Duke Francesco de' Medici (r. 1574-87) between 1568 and 1581.
In 1579, following the death of his wife, Joanna of Austria, it was the setting for the grand duke's second marriage to Bianca Cappello, his erstwhile mistress.
Most of the villa was demolished in 1820, but, thankfully, the famous Colosso dell’ Appennino, which the Flemish sculptor Jean de Boulogne (1529-1608) created for the grounds, has survived.
Giambologna, as he is better known, created the ten-metre-high sculpture between 1579 and 1583. The colossus, which personifies the Apennine mountains, presses down with his left hand on a grotesque head, which spurts forth water into a fish pond.
However, the Colosso dell’ Appennino isn't simply a sculpture, it is also a building, for the interior is made up of a network of rooms, arranged on several floors. The rooms take the form of grottoes, their walls once studded with shells and painted with frescoes.
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