This epic colossus, half man, half mountain, was erected in the late 1500s by renowned Italian sculptor Giambologna as a symbol of Italy’s rugged Appenine mountains. This mountain god, fittingly named Appennino, stand 35 feet tall over the ground of the Villa di Pratolino in Tuscany.
The rugged, mountainous statue hides a wonderful secret – his interior hides several rooms with different functions that made this colossus come to life. The monster that his left hand holds spewed water from an underground stream, and it is rumored that space in his head was made for a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils.
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My newsletter subscribers are in for a treat this week. As a special holiday gift, I'm sending them an exclusive short story "Up on the Housetop." If you'd like to get in on the fun, click and sign up for The Latest from Dax. Here's an excerpt from the story:
Up on the Housetop
“Shut it, Ziggy, you dumb cat.” I rolled over in bed and tugged the pillow over my head.
“Grrr…” I sprang up, half groggy, half annoyed. Then I snapped to reality. Ziggy was outside. His next meow came from above.
Like me, my cat enjoys climbing up on the roof of our house. I do some of my best thinking up there. Unlike me, Ziggy can’t seem to find his way down. I rescued him twice last week.
I glanced at the bedside clock. Ugh. Of course Ziggy would pick 2:00 a.m. Christmas morning to disrupt my visions of sugarplums. And worse, in about four hours my bratty little brother Sean would storm in here and drag me downstairs because, heaven forbid I don’t witness his Santafest.
“All right, all right. Hang onto your whiskers, I’m coming.”
I slipped on some wool socks, raised the window, and with the coolness of Cat Woman, I hitched onto the ivy trellis and scaled up. Brrr… You could store leftovers out here. My flannel jammy bottoms and long sleeve tee barely cut the chill. Oh well. I could endure it all of the two minutes it’d take for a kitty rescue.
I carefully avoided the string of Christmas lights as I heaved myself up and over and… What the holly? Parked smackdab in the center of our roof was an enormous sleigh and eight for-real reindeer! The shock caused me to stumble back, nearly tumbling off the roof and going splat on our family of plastic snowmen.
Was this some kind of joke? Had Dad hired Reindeer R Us to pull off some big thing for Sean?
I ventured a few steps closer. That’s when I heard, “Achoo!”
I froze. Overwhelmingly and literally. I swear, it had to be thirty degrees out.
Please tell me Dad hadn’t hired some poor schmuck to play Santa. Was some out-of-work actor waiting to Kris Kringle his way down our chimney?
I tiptoed to the side of the sleigh, careful not to spook the reindeer and get trampled like the famous grandma in the song. There, sitting on the sleigh’s edge, legs dangling, was a guy in a green sweatshirt and jeans. He kept his head down, his attention on whatever game he had going on his phone. He quickly buried his nose in the crook of his arm and, “Achoo!”
I'm a fan of all things spooky. While you're here, be sure to take a look at my books.
#Bleed #Sleepy Hollow