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A Rival to Versailles

By Linda Tancs

The Medici family ruled Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance. Their contributions to local culture are legendary, as are the many villas and gardens that family members accumulated over the centuries. One of their largest estates was Villa di Pratolino, its mansion and park environment worthy of comparison to Versailles. Eventually abandoned, the villa and the majority of its outdoor trappings became lost to history, and the complex was eventually purchased by a Florentine council for use as a public park. It hasn’t lost all of its Medici charms, however. A surviving element of the original estate is the imposing Colossus of the Apennines, a gigantic, 16th-century stone sculpture by Giambologna. Pratolino is about seven miles from the center of Florence; take bus #25A from Piazza San Marco.

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