The Colossus of the Apennines is an impressive giant sculpture built between 1579 and 1580 by the Flemish artist Jean de Boulogne, known as Giambologna. It was built as a symbol of the rugged mountains of the Apennines in Italy. Its uniqueness make it a main attraction of Villa Demidoff, the modern name of what remains of the Villa Medici in Pratolino. Purchased in 1800 by a Russian family, and deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, it is one of the largest parks in Tuscany. Many of its wonders have been lost, but just the most incredible remained – the giant of the Apennines which rises majestically in the center of the park!
Legend has it that the Colossus of the Apennines coined the famous phrase that reads: “Giambologna made the Apennines but was sorry that he did in Pratolino.” This is not because Pratolino does not deserve this magnitude, it is simply because if the Apennines had been in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence or any other “main square” of a major city, it would today be one of the most famous attractions in the world.
The beautifully manufactured brick which is coated with plaster and stone has been restored to its former glory thanks to restoration projects which took place from September 2011 – October 2014.
Inside the Colossus of the Apennines there still lies a secret compartment which lies in the upper part of the body and in the head. According to a study by GECO, the statue contains a number of rooms with frescoes and fountains moved by hydraulic mechanisms. There is also a “fireplace” of sorts which once ignited would blow smoke out of the giant’s nostrils.
After several restorations, the underground cave was restored and a small marble statue, called Venerina was moved to a safer place. The dragon which lies behind the complex was also restored, as well as the water which flows from the snake’s mouth from under the left hand of the Colossus. All of this was done under the direction of architect Foggini.
There is also a staircase located at the back of the statue ideal for travelers. The caves are open to visitors and give the feeling of literally being in the Giant’s body.