In the centre of a forgotten Florentine estate, teeming with natural beauty and man-made spectacles, the Colossus of Villa Demidoff crouches atop a grotto. His hair and beard are overgrown and dishevelled; his eyes are downcast; his posture plaintive. Perhaps this awe-inspiring statue still mourns the fate that has befallen the once opulent villa.
The villa itself was built back in the 16th century, when it was commissioned by Francesco I de’ Medici. He funded the construction of a magnificent manor house, lavish gardens brimming with flowers and a plethora of spectacular sculptures.
Over the years, the villa’s ownership changed hands many times, passing through the hands of Tuscan Grand-Dukes and Russian Princes, during which time the buildings fell into disrepair and many of the statues were destroyed or removed.
Today, the park is under the rule of the Florentine government, who have restored much of its natural beauty whilst still retaining the effect created by the ravages of time – a tormented sadness captured so eloquently on the face of the Colossus himself.
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As one of Florence’s premier tourist attractions, the park is the embodiment of the tragic beauty of transient nature.