As the first warm beams of the sun touch the ground, the Medici Park of Pratolino wakes up from its winter sleep; the gardens reopened on April 2, accessible to the public with free admission. The park is on the ATAF bus line, #25 from San Marco.
Pratolino and the Medici Villas are under UNESCO heritage protection. The park complex boasts rich flora and fauna, and is home to 99 animal species and rare trees and plants like white pines and giant oaks.
The park was originally designed to be the scene of the marriage of Francesco de Medici and his second wife Bianca Cappello. They entrusted the Flemish artist Giambologna to design “The Garden of Wonders” as a wedding gift, and a summer home as well, but because of the sudden death of the couple, the project has never been finished.
Works of Giambologna, though, still decorate the garden. One of the greatest sites of the park is the “Colosso del’Appennino” (“Colossal of the Apennines”), a 14-meter (44 ft.) high half man-half mountain creature with rooms and caves carved inside. The colossal blends into the natural ambiance and shows the artistic genius of the master.
For art and history lovers, guided tours (€5) are available to the garden’s wonders, starting from the inn of the park, to visit some of the outstanding sites including, among others, the Cupid’s Cave, the Buontalenti Chapel and the Red Salon (Sala Rossa) of Villa Paggeria. For fans of nature, guided walks into the forest are available at €3. No fee is charged for kids 12 and under.
Both itineraries must be explored in a group of minimum 10 participants, maximum 50. A reservation is necessary by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kid-friendly, easy excursions start from the nearby ”Parco Avventura Il Gigante” adventure park.
Pratolino is open to public every week from Friday to Sunday between 10 am to 8 pm and is always free to visit until the October 30, 2016 winter closing.