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The Garden of Pratolino


Historical Sources Related to Design and Construction of the Garden of Pratolino

The Garden of Pratolino and the ECHO Collection

The Provincia di Firenze purchased the Pratolino estate in 1981 and saved it from a certain fate of real estate and building speculation. After a long period of research and studies that were compiled and published by the provincial government in the series Pratolino Laboratorio di Meraviglie the decision was taken to make the complex available to the public. Over the years the Provincia commissioned feasibility studies and projects to enhance the property, restored the works of art and nearly all the existing buildings, developed programs to protect the natural environments and organized important cultural programs. Having inherited the bibliographic wealth of the CEDIP (Centro di Documentazione Internazionale Parchi covering four thousand parks throughout the world, five hundred of which are in Italy), in 2007 the Provincia decided to establish a Documentation Center on the villa and park. In addition to the documentation on the park and Villa Demidoff, the archive already contains information on the historic parks, villas and gardens in Italy and abroad that were inspired by Pratolino. The catalogue, that lists over five hundred items on paper and/or in digital format, was edited by Professor Giovanni Valdrè who had already worked with administration of the Provincia of Florence in establishing and directing the CEDIP and has curated the collections of the new documentation center at Pratolino.

The new center, characterized by high quality multimedia systems will be suitably equipped to welcome visitors and will include exhibition spaces divided into specific sections illustrating:

  • the history of the park and its owners (Medici, Lorraine, Demidoff);
  • the current status of the park and the works done by the Provincia di Firenze (documents, drawings, photographs);
  • architectural and artistic structures (buildings, statues, fountains) with scale models, the reconstruction of the automata and an exhibition of archeological finds;
  • nature, botany and wildlife.

In parallel with this project, through an agreement with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Scienice in Berlin and with the cooperation of other cultural institutions such as the State Archives of Florences, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence and the Biblioteca Riccardiana, the Provincia, has decided to publish the printed documents and manuscripts which are significant to the history of Pratolino in the ECHO (European Cultural Heritage Online) portal.

The research directed by Matteo Valleriani on Bernardo Buontalenti and Hero of Alexandria’s hydraulics and pneumatics, aims to reconstruct part of the mysterious water attractions and the marvels of Pratolino created by Francesco I de’ Medici. On the basis of such a cooperation with international institutions, this specific thematic archive of early documentary and bibliographic sources is made accessible online. Simonetta Merendoni, Luigi Ulivieri

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