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villa demidoff gigante

Known as Villa Demidoff, the Pratolino Park has a very intriguing story that brings it to be a role model for the Mannerism and a high example

of artistic and technical excellence. It was destined to decline and so it changed into a more modern park at the beginning of XIX century, keeping though its struggling charme of the lost complex. uto utens villa mediceaIn 1568 the Gran duke Francesco I de' Medici bought the Pratolino estate to build a beautiful mansion (with Bernardo Buontalenti) with artificial caves, machines that could mix nature, art and science. The complex, finished in 1581, looked like a huge garden with inside some pieces of art by Cellini, Giambologna, Bandinelli, Cioli, Ammannati and others from the Medici collections. It remained like this until the death of the last Gran duke GianGastone. The park was called by contemporaries “The wonderland park”.   In 1737, with the new regnant, the Lorena, the park was abandoned for 80 years since 1820 when was modified in its structure by J. Frietsch, who followed the romantic canons of the period. In 1824 the Medici mansion was demolished because it was dangerous, along with other structures. The only extension of the mansion in this period was the panoramic overlook, the Casino di Montilli.   In 1872 the heirs of the last grand duke Leopoldo II Lorena, sold the estate to the Russian prince Pavel Demidoff who transformed the mansion of the Medici in what is nowadays known as Villa Demidoff (the original one was destroyed) by building on the right side the Red Chamber where he kept all the art collections. The Demidoff estate hold to the family until the death of Princess Mary (1955). The estate was handed down to the grandchild, Paolo Karageorvic, prince of Jugoslavia, who in 1969 sold the land and the buildings to a real estate company of Rome, blowing the heritage. In 1981 the remaining part of the mansion (155 hectares) was bought by the Provincia of Florence, who saved it from speculation and divisions.   Of the ancient Medici park you can find: the Chapel, built by the Buontalenti in 1580, the Big Aviary, the Tank or Fish Tank of the Masque, the Appennino Giant by Giambologna, the Mugnone cave, the Cupid cave, the Stables, a part of the Gamberaie tank.   The Medici Park at Pratolino is inscribed on the Cultural and Natural Heritage List of UNESCO’s World Heritage, together with other 13 Medici villas and gardens in Tuscany.  

Published: 15/3/2018

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