Photo by Antonio Scaramuzzino on Flickr
The Villa di Pratolino was a Renaissance patrician villa in Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy. It was mostly demolished in 1820 and its remains are now part of Villa Demidoff, 12 km north of Florence, reached from the main road to Bologna.
The villa was built by Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The designer of the villa and gardens was his court architect/designer/mechanic/engineer Bernardo Buontalenti, who completed it in a single campaign from 1569 to 1581. In 1579 it was complete enough to serve as the the setting for Francesco’s wedding to Bianca Cappello. In its time it was a splendid example of the Mannerist garden.
Though the villa and its fountains were kept in repair, after Francesco’s death it was deserted and the place was left to fall into decay. Later, the Grand Duke Ferdinand III decided to demolish the villa and the garden was then re-designed in the English landscape manner.
After exchanging ownership through various royal families, the park was eventually bought by the province of Florence who now maintain the park and open it for public use from May until September.
The complicated iconography of the garden is embodied in the brooding statue of “Apennine Colossus” (1579-1580), a sculpture by an artist named Giambologna. [Source: Wikipedia]