Perhaps the most eye-catching medieval European statue is the Apennine Colossus in Tuscany in Italy. This massive statue was created around 450 years ago and is meant as a personification of the Apennine mountains. The setting of the Colossus draws from several mythological themes from the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses (e.g. Pegasus, Parnassus, Jupiter).
The Apennine Colossus is around 11 meters or 36 feet high and is located in the east of the Villa Demidoff in Italy. One can feel the sense of mystery and beauty of the renaissance gardens and the Colossus seemingly in pain. For many years in the 18th century the estate was abandoned and reclaimed by nature, today it is managed by the government of Florence and is open to the public.
Description of Depiction of Apennine
Apennine was commission by Francesco I de’ Medici in the 16th century and was completed after 12 years. The Apennine Colossus is just the main focal point of a larger garden complex with lakes, caves, and more.
- Built: In The Late 1580s
- Height: 11 Meters or 36 Feet
Apennine is by the lake atop a grotto with his face apparently in anguish. He is depicted as an elderly man crouching down on the shore of the lake in a suggestive and realistic pose. Apennine seems to squeeze the head of a sea monster and out of the serpent's mouth gushes water into the pond in front of the statue.
- Personification: Apennine Is A Personification Of the Apennine Mountains
Like many renaissance works of art, Apennine is depicted naked. Interestingly he also has stalactites in his thick beard and his long hair shows the metamorphosis of man and mountain. It works to blend his body with the surrounding nature (that's populated by aquatic vegetation).
Descriptions of the statue claim that he was originally able to sweat and weep with water pouring through a network of pipes running through his body. When temperatures fell enough in the winter, icicles would then cover his body.
Originally there was also a cave-like structure protecting the back of the statue, but that was demolished around 1690. The dragon on the back of Apennine was added later on.
Chambers And Caves In Within The Giant
Intriguingly, there are a series of chambers and caves within the giant. These are one three levels.
Ground Floor Cave:
On the ground floor is a cave that has a fountain dedicated to the Greek goddess Thetys.Thetys mainly appeared in Greek mythology as a sea nymph, a goddess of water, or as one of the 50 Nereids.
- Cave: With an Octagonal Fountain Dedicated to The Greek Goddess Thetys
The other chambers of the statue have mining scenes depicted from the book De re metallica. In the upper floor there is a chamber large enough for a small orchestra.
In the head is a small chamber with a fireplace. When a fire was lit there, smoke would flow out if his nostrils - metal as for the medieval times! There were are also slits in the statue's eyes and ears. At night the fire would make his eyes appear to glow in the dark.
- Nostrils: Smoke Would Billow Out Of His Nostrils
- Eyes: His Eyes Would Glow In The Dark
It is said that Francesco used to enjoy sitting in the head fishing in the lake below with a fishing line running throw the eye slits.
Visiting The Apennine Colossus
Today Apennine is open to the public and is located around 10 km or 6 miles north of Florence at the foot of the Apennine mountains. If one is not driving, according to Discover Tuscany, it's possible to take a bus. Take ATAF bus #25A from Piazza San Marco in Florence to Pratolino, and it's a shortish walk from there.
While there, take time to admire the whole park. The Park of Pratolino is one of the most beautiful parks in Florence surroundings. There was once a great Medicean villa there that were destroyed along with more statues, but still Apennine, the gardens, and some other monuments remain.
- Address: Via Fiorentina, 276, Pratolino, Vaglia
- Admission: Free, no booking required
- Open Season: April 1st through October 30, 2022
- Days Open: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
- Hours Open: 10:00am to 8:00pm - In October, hours are from 10am to 6pm.
Plan to include Apennine in one's essential itinerary for the stunning Italian city of Florence. Another unusal activity while in Florence is to enjoy the Italian and French pastime of hunting for truffles.