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Shell House Showcase: The Grotto of "The Flood", Florence

Updated: Apr 26

The Renaissance Villa di Costella had been the residence of Cosmo I de Medici and still provides fine views towards Florence.




The magnificent Grotto, with sandstone frontage and large pillars is set into a wall and was the main feature in an elaborate water garden.




The use of tufa around the entrance and inside contrasts with the ornate, geometric shell patterns that dominate the interior. The use of ormers and oysters enhance the grotesque masks, often with playful results.



Three vast marble baths contain life-like sets of lightly coloured animals including, elephant, unicorn, monkey, giraffe and bison.


In England we have discovered only three grottoes that use animal images.

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