The Medici family is an ancient and powerful Italian noble family of Tuscan origin, which became one of the protagonist dynasties and of central importance in the history of Italy and Europe from the 15th century to the 18th century. The Medici and other families of Italy inspired the Italian Renaissance, left the immense artistic and cultural heritage to the city of Florence. These historical sites that are closely tied to the history of Florence, the Italian Renaissance, and the rise and fall of the Medici family’s own fortunes.
Florence was known as the center of the Renaissance, attracting thinkers and artists alike to the city through the reputation of its benevolent rulers, and producing thinkers and artists from schools sponsored by the Medici and others. The city welcomed the ideals and philosophies of distant lands, absorbing them into the writing and art that it produced.
The Medici family played the important role in Florentine history, their footprints are still very visibly present in the city’s monuments, piazzas and historic buildings today. This powerful Renaissance family resided in several majestic palaces and left behind tons of history, rediscover them following the footsteps of the famous Medici family, traveling back in time all the way to the fifteenth century.
The Medici were not only merchants, bankers, funders and collectors, but also professional soldiers, clerics and nobles. The Medici family was a loyal supporter of the Holy See, producing four popes and many bishops. The Medici family also supported innovation and funded many progressives, such as Galileo, who was regarded as a heresy by the Holy See.
While the Medici used their talents to gain power and prestige for themselves, they also used their influence to improve the quality of life of those in their charge to sponsor cultural endeavors and to keep Florence free from foreign domination. With the wealth and influence grown, the Medici created an environment in which art and humanism flourished in Florence.
The biggest accomplishments of the Medici lay in the sponsorship of art and architecture. In architecture, the Medici financed the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria del Fiore,, and also responsible for some notable features of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Boboli Gardens, the Belvedere, the Medici Chapel, and the Palazzo Medici.
Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, the first patron of the arts in the family, helped Masaccio and commissioned Brunelleschi for the reconstruction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence in 1419. Cosimo the Elder commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi for the building of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral.
The Medici are best known for being patron of the arts, they were responsible for the majority of Florentine art during their reign. Their financial support of the arts and humanities helped to make Renaissance-era Florence a thriving cultural center. and were patrons of Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli, Galileo and Francesco Redi among many others in the arts and sciences.
The Medici family also demonstrated tremendous support for education, establishing the Platonic Academy for the study of ancient works. It is estimated that before his death in 1464, Cosimo spent approximately 600,000 gold florins supporting architecture, scholarly learning, and other arts. Cosimo the Elder’s notable artistic associates were Donatello and Fra Angelico.
In addition to commissioning art and architecture, the Medici were prolific collectors, and today their acquisitions form the core of the Uffizi museum in Florence. The Medici family also have funded the invention of the piano and opera.
The Medici and the Florentine Renaissance
The Renaissance was officially born in Florence, a city that is often referred to as its cradle. This new figurative language, also linked to a different way of thinking about man and the world, was inspired by local culture and humanism, which had already been brought to the fore in the previous century by personalities such as Francesco Petrarca or Coluccio Salutati. The novelties, proposed in the very early years of the fifteenth century by masters such as Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, were not immediately accepted by the client, on the contrary they remained for at least twenty years a minority and largely misunderstood artistic fact, in the face of the then dominant international Gothic.
The style of the Florentine Renaissance, after the beginnings of the first twenty years of the 15th century, spread with enthusiasm until the middle of the century, with experiments based on a technical-practical approach; the second phase took place at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent, from about 1450 until his death in 1492, and was characterized by a more intellectualistic arrangement of the conquests. A moment of rupture follows, dominated by the personality of Girolamo Savonarola, which deeply marks many artists, convincing them to rethink their choices. The last phase, datable between 1490 and 1520, is called the “mature” Renaissance, and sees the presence in Florence of three absolute geniuses of art, who greatly influenced the generations to come: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raffaello Sanzio.
The Medici family first attained wealth and political power in Florence through their success in commerce and banking. Beginning in 1434 with the rise to power of Cosimo de’ Medici (or Cosimo the Elder), the family’s support of the arts and humanities transformed Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance, a cultural flowering rivaled only by that of ancient Greece.
Although the Florentine Renaissance had already begun before the rise of the Medici family, it was the Medici family who provided the financial guarantee to meet the goals of the Florentines who devoted themselves to the construction of grander art, buildings and other innovations, to build a more prosperous city, and with its thriving image, to impresses and convinces its competitors.
The greatest accomplishments of the Medici were in the sponsorship of art and architecture, mainly early and High Renaissance art and architecture. The Medici were responsible for a high proportion of the major Florentine works of art created during their period of rule. Their support was critical, since artists generally began work on their projects only after they had received commissions.
Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, the first patron of the arts in the family, aided Masaccio and commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi for the reconstruction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence in 1419. Cosimo the Elder’s notable artistic associates were Donatello and Fra Angelico. In later years the most significant protégé of the Medici family was Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), who produced work for a number of family members, beginning with Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was said to be extremely fond of the young Michelangelo and invited him to study the family collection of antique sculpture. Lorenzo also served as patron to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) for seven years. Indeed, Lorenzo was an artist in his own right and an author of poetry and song; his support of the arts and letters is seen as a high point in Medici patronage.
In addition to commissions for art and architecture, the Medici were prolific collectors and today their acquisitions form the core of the Uffizi museum in Florence. In architecture, the Medici were responsible for some notable features of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Boboli Gardens, the Belvedere, the Medici Chapel and the Palazzo Medici.
Guide Tour of the Medici Itinerary
The Medici family ruled Florence for over three hundred years. In the 1400s, this wealthy & influential banking family managed to gain control of the Florentine republic. The Medici family managed to become the symbol of a city and took a very important role in the Florentine history. The Medici always understood the power of the visual image and the political importance of artistic patronage.
The Guide Tour of Medici family and Florence Renaissance, include visiting the two Medici ducal palaces; the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palatina gallery inside the Pitti Palace. The tour is full of political symbolism, great art (Bronzino, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, to name a few), stories of intrigue and aristocratic grandeur. Discover also the places where many of the scenes of the tv series “THE MEDICI” took place. You will learn more about the countless obstacles, betrayals and victories that took place in the history of Florence and the true essence of the main characters of the Medici Family.
This family supported the careers of several artists, and you can follow their footprints visible in the city’s monuments, piazzas and historic buildings. This unique walking itinerary through the downtown Florence, will make you travel back in time all the way to the fifteenth century to explore the most symbolic places of the Medici Family in Florence as well as the palaces of enemy families like the Strozzi, Albizi, and Pazzi.
The San Marco monastery & their palace Medici-Riccardi, both of which were built in the new renaissance style of the first half of the 1400s and decorated by the leading artists of the time, a visit on the inside of the palace to see the frescoed chapel of the family with Adoration of the Magi’ scenes by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Behind the family church of San Lorenzo, there is the Medici Chapels, commissioned by Michelangelo at the beginning of the 1500s. The artistic patronage assumed by the family changes as we change centuries. The family, having just returned to rule the city after being exiled, no longer hold back in displaying their obvious intentions of ruling with total power. The Medici pope commissioned Michelangelo to create a lavish display for the tombs of his ancestors & the subsequent Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany commissioned a family mausoleum entirely constructed in semi precious stones & rivalling all others in Europe.
The San Lorenzo church, renovated magnificent Renaissance church designed by Filippo Brunelleschi was from its very concept conceived to be a manifestation of the family’s place in society and power. The church was the burial place for nearly all of the Medici members, male and female, over their three hundred circa year rule of Florence admission is a veritable treasure chest of art.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Palazzo Medici Riccardi is located in Florence at number 3 of what was called Via Larga due to its size. The palace was and is located in a strategic place at the intersection of Via Larga (the current Via Cavour) and Via de ‘Gori, this whole area is called the “Medici Quarter”. Michelozzo drew on Brunelleschi ‘s classic rigor to purify and enrich the Florentine Gothic tradition. The shape of the original building was almost cubic, with a central courtyard from which a portal allowed access to the garden, surrounded by high walls.
Its façade is a masterpiece of sobriety and elegance, although it has “exceptional” features such as the use of ashlar, which in the Middle Ages was normally reserved for public buildings where a city government was based. The exterior is therefore divided into three registers, separated by string courses with denticles from the growing protrusion towards the upper floors. On the contrary, the ashlar is graduated so as to be very protruding on the ground floor, more flattened on the first floor and characterized by smooth slabs and barely listed on the second, thus highlighting the lightening of the volumes upwards and emphasizing a horizontal trend. volumes.
On the ground floor there was a corner portico (walled up in 1517); on the top floor, instead of the cornice with carved corbels, there were battlements that accentuated its military character. Along the east and south sides runs a street bench, a high stone plinth, which was used for practical and aesthetic reasons. The mullioned windows regularly mark the façade, framed by a round ring with a medallion in the center with the arms of the Medici and rosettes. The windows are slightly differentiated between floor and floor, with wider frames at the top in order to balance the lower floor height. The effect is however that of giving greater prominence to the noble floor.
A notable study on harmony and decorative variety is also found in the courtyard, set up in such a way as to suggest an effect of symmetry that does not actually exist. The decoration, on the whole, is taken from the classical repertoire and composed with imagination and according to a taste for contamination. A refined play of perspective occurs in the corner columns, where there is the greatest structural load, which are slightly lower than the others. The angular conflict, however, causes the windows on the sides to be closer than the others, an irregularity that other later architects will try to resolve differently.
The first register is composed of a portico with smooth shaft columns and composite capitals and is concluded by a high frieze with medallions containing Medici coats of arms of various shapes and mythological representations (attributed to Bertoldo di Giovanni), connected by festoon frescoes (today the result of repainting), by Maso di Bartolomeo. The second order, with full masonry, is characterized by mullioned windows aligned with the arches of the portico, which reflect the shape of the external ones, with a graffiti frieze at the top, while the last register has a trabeated loggia with Ionic columns, aligned with the lines of the porch.
The palace is rich in decorations. The private chapel is called Cappella dei Magi, a fresco masterpiece by the Florentine Benozzo Gozzoli, a pupil of Beato Angelico, commissioned by Piero il Gottoso who directly followed the design and development of the works. This small space was the family’s private chapel and was built in 1459. In the three main walls the Cavalcade of the Magi is depicted, a religious subject that acts as a pretext to represent a whole series of family portraits and political figures of the time who officially came to Florence at the invitation of the Medici, portrayed in celebration of the political conquests of the family. Among the characters depicted there are a young Lorenzo the Magnificent, his father Piero il Gottoso and the head of the family Cosimo the Elder. On the altar today a late fifteenth century copy of the original Nativity by Filippo Lippi, now preserved in Berlin.
Basilica of San Lorenzo
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the main market district of the city, and it is the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence, having been consecrated in 393 AD, at which time it stood outside the city walls. For three hundred years it was the city’s cathedral, before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata.
San Lorenzo was the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici offered to finance a new church to replace an eleventh-century Romanesque rebuilding. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the fifteenth century, was commissioned to design it, but the building, with alterations, was not completed until after his death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that contains other important architectural and artistic works: the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi and having interior decoration and sculpture by Donatello; the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo; the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo’s designs; and the Medici Chapels by Matteo Nigetti.
The façade of San Lorenzo is a sloping hut, with exposed rough stone on which three arched portals open. The right side is in smooth stone, decorated with an order of blind arches and pilasters. On this side you can also see the exterior of Michelangelo’s New Sacristy, equipped with a small dome covered in scales, finished off by a lantern with marble columns. Adjacent to the New Sacristy stands the bell tower 54 meters high; it houses inside three large bells, the two largest of which were donated in 1740 by Gian Gastone de ‘Medici, while the smaller bell was added by the Ecat foundries of Mondovì (CN) in 2019, following the restorations that were completed in that year.
At the top, above the lantern, is the great dome of the chapel of the Princes, covered with roof tiles. On the back of the church (with access from the back on Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini) there is the grandiose chapel of the Princes, with its large dome which is the second largest in Florence after that of the cathedral.
The church is a Latin cross with three naves, with side chapels along the side ships and the transept. At the intersection of the arms there is a dome. The layout, as in other works by Brunelleschi, is inspired by other works of the medieval Florentine tradition, such as Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella or Santa Trinita, but starting from these models Brunelleschi took inspiration for something more rigorous, with revolutionary results. Despite the alterations, the basilica still conveys a sense of rational conception of space, underlined by the supporting architectural elements in pietra serena, which stands out on the white plaster according to the most recognizable Brunelleschi style.
The fundamental innovation lies in the organization of spaces along the median axis by applying a module (both in plan and elevation), corresponding to the size of a spansquare, with the base of 11 Florentine arms, about the same as the Spedale degli Innocenti (10 Florentine arms), built from 1419. The use of the regular module, with the consequent rhythmic repetition of the architectural members, defines a perspective scan of great clarity and suggestion. The two side aisles have been defined as the symmetrical development of the hospital loggia, applied for the first time inside a church: here too the use of the square span and the ribbed vault generates the sensation of a space marked out as a regular series of imaginary cubes surmounted by hemispheres.
The interior is extremely bright, thanks to the series of arched windows that run along the claristorio. The columns rest on short plinths, have smooth stems and end in the innovative “Brunelleschi’s nut”, made up of a Corinthian capital and a cubic pulvinus, composed of a frieze with reliefs of angelic protomes and graticules of St. Lawrence. The arches of the nave are round arches, surmounted by a protruding cornice. The ceiling of the central nave is decorated with lacunars, with gilded rosettes on a white background, but Brunelleschi’s project included a barrel vault, also in the transept, while the aisles are covered with ribbed vaults. Each side chapel is raised by three steps, flanked by pilasters and surmounted by a round arch, which is connected to the cornice with a shelf.
The most celebrated and grandest part of San Lorenzo is the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels) in the apse. The Medici were still paying for it when, in 1743, the last living member of the family, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, died. In 1742, she had commissioned Vincenzo Meucci to paint the Glory of Florentine Saints, a fresco, inside the cupola. Approximately fifty lesser members of the Medici family are buried in the crypt. The final design (1603–1604) was by Bernardo Buontalenti, based on models of Alessandro Pieroni and Matteo Nigetti.
Above is the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes), a great but awkwardly domed octagonal hall where the grand dukes are buried. The style shows Mannerist eccentricities in its unusual shape, broken cornices, and asymmetrically sized windows. In the interior, the ambitious decoration with colored marbles overwhelms the attempts at novel design. The Corbelli chapel, in the southern transept, contains a monument by the sculptor Giovanni Dupre to the wife of Count Moltke-Hvitfeldt, formerly Danish ambassador to the Court of Naples.
Opening off the south transept of the basilica is the square, domed space, the Sagrestia Vecchia, or Old Sacristy, that was designed by Brunelleschi (1377–1446) and that is the oldest part of the present church and the only part completed in Brunelleschi’s lifetime. It contains the tombs of several members of the Medici family. It was composed of a sphere on top of a cube; the cube acting as the human world and the sphere as the heavens.
Opposite the Old Sacristy in the north transept of the basilica is the Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy), begun in 1520 by Michelangelo, who also designed the Medici tombs within it. That the architect of a building also designed the interior furnishings is a historical novelty in European architecture that is driven by his being a sculptor by training. The new sacristy was composed of three registers, the topmost topped by a coffered pendentive dome. The articulation of the interior walls may be described as early examples of Renaissance Mannerism (see Michelangelo’s Ricetto in the Laurentian Library). The combination of pietra serena pilasters on the lower register is carried through to the second register; however, in Mannerist fashion, architectural elements ‘seem impossible’, creating suspense and tension that is evident in this example.
Michelangelo completed most of the statuary for the new sacristy as well, however, the statues of the two patron saints planned to accompany the Madonna and Child that were planned for placement on the main wall and the sculptural elements of the two sarcophagi were left undone when he was redirected to another project by the pope, the political situation in Florence changed, and changes later occurred in papal succession. Although the new sacristy was vaulted over by 1524, these circumstances, the temporary exile of the Medici (1527), the death of Giulio, eventually Pope Clement VII, and the permanent departure of Michelangelo for Rome in 1534, meant that Michelangelo never finished the project and he refused to direct completion.
The statues that Michelangelo had carved by the time of his departure had not been put in place and were left in disarray within the chapel. In 1545, they were installed by Niccolò Tribolo. By order of Cosimo I, the remaining work was completed by 1555 by Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati. In 1976, a concealed corridor with drawings by Michelangelo on its walls was discovered under the New Sacristy.
Palazzo Vecchio is located in Piazza della Signoria in Florence and is the seat of the Municipality. It represents the best synthesis of the city’s fourteenth- century civil architecture and is one of the most famous civic buildings in the world. In 1540, Palazzo Vecchio called the Palazzo dei Priori at that time, became the official residence of the Duke Cosimo I of the Medici and of his court. The palazzo went through many changes, the ones commissioned in 1555 to Giorgio Vasari transformed the palace greatly to what we see today.
The Salone dei Cinquecento is one of the largest and most precious halls in Italy. This imposing hall has a length of 54 meters and a width of 23. It was built in 1494 by Simone del Pollaiolo, called il Cronaca, commissioned by Savonarola who, replacing the Medici at the helm of Florence, wanted it as the seat of the Major Council. which was made up of more than 1500 citizens, who gathered in rotation in groups of 500.
It was later enlarged by Vasari, so that Cosimo I could make court in this hall. During the transformation (1555 – 1572) it is not clear whether the famous incomplete paintings of Leonardo da Vinci ‘s The Battle of Anghiari and Michelangelo ‘s The Battle of Cascina were covered or destroyed. Of the Battle of Anghiari there is a famous copy by Rubens in the Louvre museum, but in any case of the two works there are other copies and sometimes the sketches.
The Sala di Leone X is dedicated to the pope son of Lorenzo the Magnificent who began the fortunes of the family in the sixteenth century, leading it to consolidate its power and importance. On the ceiling is painted Leo X’s allied troops reconquer Milan from the French, while the rectangular and octagonal panels depict various episodes from the life of Leo X. Other episodes are depicted in the monochrome frescoes, placed in the lateral areas of the walls. Large scenes are painted in the center of the walls. In the scene of the triumphal entry of Leo X into Florence, we see the appearance of Piazza della Signoria before the construction of the Uffizi, with the church of San Pier Scheraggio still and with the Loggia dei Lanzi without the sculptures.
Also interesting is the fresco of the battle of San Leo, won by Lorenzo Duca d’Urbino for the pope himself. In the background you can clearly see the fortress of San Leo, famous for being the place of imprisonment of Cagliostro. A curiosity of the painting is represented by the personification of a river (an old man) in the foreground holding a large jar: in the jar gushes water coming from the rock, which on closer inspection has the appearance of a standing man who is urinating, an allegory of the source of the Marecchia river. The third wall scene is Leo X elects his college of cardinals. The wall with the windows is decorated instead with some Medici portraits. At the corners there are four niches with four marble busts: from the left Giuliano, Duke of Nemours by Alfonso Lombardi, Lorenzo Duke of Urbino by Gino Lorenzi, Clemente VII also by Lombardi and Leo X by Lorenzi.
These apartments consist of five rooms and two loggias. Cosimo I, who had his private apartment here, originally commissioned the construction to Battista del Tasso, but on his death the decorations were completed by Vasari and his workshop (especially Cristofano Gherardi known as il Doceno and Marco da Faenza). The walls of the Rooms of the Elements are filled with allegorical frescoes. The Eleonora district was also designed by Giorgio Vasari, for Cosimo I’s wife, Eleonora di Toledo.
Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is the square of Florence, the seat of civil power and the heart of the city’s social life. It is located in the central part of medieval Florence, south of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The Loggia della Signoria was built between 1376 and 1381 by Benci di Cione Dami (brother of Orcagna) and Simone di Francesco Talenti with the function of covered “arengario”, ie a balcony to address the crowd during official ceremonies. From an architectural point of view, the construction combines Gothic elements, such as the beam pillars and the openwork crowning, with elements of classical matrix such as the large round arches, according to the particular Florentine interpretation of the Gothic language.
During the sixteenth century the loggia lost its original function to become a sort of open-air museum of the sculptures of the Medici collection. In 1555, Cosimo I placed Cellini ‘s Perseus there and in 1585 Francesco I placed Giambologna ‘s Rape of the Sabines. At the end of the eighteenth century, at the time of Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, a new setting was created with the placement in the Loggia of numerous ancient sculptures transferred to Florence from Villa Medici in Rome. Finally, the subsequent nineteenth-century modifications consolidate the appearance of the Gallery of Statues which it still retains today.
The Uffizi Gallery is a state museum in Florence, which is part of the museum complex called the Uffizi Galleries and including, in addition to the aforementioned gallery, the Vasari Corridor, the collections of Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, which together make up for quantity and quality of the works collected one of the most important museums in the world. The complex appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts, as a monumental building to be considered national artistic heritage.
There are the most conspicuous existing collection of Raphael and Botticelli, as well as main groups of works by Giotto, Tiziano, Pontormo, Bronzino, Andrea del Sarto, Caravaggio, Dürer, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci and others. While the paintings of the sixteenth century and the Baroque are concentrated in Palazzo Pitti, but also of the Italian nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Vasari corridor housed until 2018 part of the collection of self-portraits (over 1 700), which should then be included in the exhibition itinerary of the Gallery of Statues and Paintings, as is already done in a small part.
The museum houses a collection of priceless works of art, deriving, as a fundamental nucleus, from the Medici collections, enriched over the centuries by bequests, exchanges and donations, among which a fundamental group of religious works deriving from the suppression of monasteries and convents between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Divided into various rooms set up for schools and styles in chronological order, the exhibition shows works from the 12th to the 18th century, with the best collection in the world of works from the Florentine Renaissance. Of great value are also the collection of ancient statuary and above all that of drawings and prints which, kept in the Cabinet of the same name, is one of the most conspicuous and important in the world.
Palazzo Pitti is an imposing Renaissance palace in Florence. It is located in the Oltrarno area, a short distance from Ponte Vecchio. The original core of the building dates back to 1458, as the urban residence of the banker Luca Pitti. The palace was then purchased by the Medici family in 1549 and became the main residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, first Medici and from 1737 Habsburg-Lorraine. Following the unification of Italy, it played the role of royal palace for the House of Savoyin the five years in which Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy (1865-70). In 1919 Vittorio Emanuele III donated it to the state: since then it has been a state museum.
Inside it is in fact housed an important set of museums: the Palatine Gallery, arranged according to the criterion of the eighteenth-century picture gallery, with masterpieces by Raphael and Titian; the royal apartments, the apartment of the Duchess of Aosta and the neighborhood of the Prince of Naples (usually not open to tourists); the Gallery of Modern Art (with the works of the Macchiaioli), and other specialized museums: the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, dedicated to applied art; the Museum of Fashion and Costume, the largest Italian museum dedicated to fashion; thePorcelain Museum and the Carriage Museum. The palace is completed by the Boboli Gardens, one of the best examples of an Italian garden in the world.
In 1565, in celebration of the marriage of Francesco de’Medici and Giovanna of Austria, an important aboveground passageway was built linking the Uffizi to Palazzi Pitti which allowed the grand dukes to move from the two without having to step outside. This passageway, about 1 km long, is known as the Corridor Vasariano or Vasari Corridor.
The Boboli Gardens is today a historic park in the city of Florence. Born as the Grand Ducal garden of Palazzo Pitti, it is also connected to the Forte di Belvedere, a military outpost for the safety of the sovereign and his family. The garden, which welcomes over 800,000 visitors every year, is one of the most important examples of an Italian garden in the world and is a real open-air museum, for its architectural-landscape setting and for the collection of sculptures ranging from from Roman antiquities to the twentieth century.
The gardens were built between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, by the Medici, then by the Habsburg-Lorraine and the Savoy, and occupy an area of approximately 45,000 m². Over the years, new portions with different settings were added to the first late-Renaissance style setting, visible in the nucleus closest to the building: along the axis parallel to the building, the perspective axis of the lane was born, from which gravel-covered walkways unravel which lead to ponds, fountains, nymphaeums, temples and caves. The importance that statues and buildings assume in the garden, such as the eighteenth-century Kaffeehaus (a rare example of Rococo stylein Tuscany), which allows you to enjoy the view over the city, or the Limonaia, still in the original green Lorraine color.
The gardens as a whole have a vaguely elongated triangle configuration, with steep slopes and two almost perpendicular axes that cross near the Fountain of Neptune that stands out against the panorama. Starting from the central paths of the axes then develop a series of terraces, avenues and paths, perspective views with statues, paths, clearings, enclosed gardens, buildings and ancient rose bushes, in an inexhaustible source of curious and scenographic environments. Here we also find the Mostaccini fountain whose sequence of waterfalls constitutes a seventeenth-century testimony of the ancient troughs for decoy birds, used in the practice of fowling. There are also a series of ancient underground aqueducts that fed the entire complex.
Palazzo Ramirez de Montalvo
Palazzo Ramirez de Montalvo is a historic palace located in Florence in Borgo Albizi 26. One of the most important examples of Mannerist architecture in Florence, and one of the main civil works of Ammannati. Note on the front, which enjoys the happy position of light given by the lack of buildings in front, the attention to the design of the various details, well exemplified by the portal, offset to the left, and by the elaborate kneeling windows, up to the “wide mesh, balanced grates”, elegant, well inserted between the shelves at the top, without interrupting the design “.
On the upper floors, two rows of five windows aligned on string courses are characterized by protruding architraves and protruding stone frames with the arrangement of the joints in an almost radial manner. At the center of the facade stands the Medici coat of arms, with the inscription: “MAGN. COSMVS FLOR. ET SEN. D. II” (” Cosimo the Great, second duke of Florence and Siena “). On the door is a shield with the arms of the Montalvo family (in blue, with a red bar supporting a leopard-print lion facing gold and accompanied at the tip by a turreted castle of three pieces silver; all surmounted by an eagle with a lowered flight also in silver), which also occurs in the small internal courtyard, this time painted on the wall.
The peculiar element of the façade, are the graffiti that cover the surface with monochrome drawings. The decoration, as already mentioned, was made in 1573-1574 on cartoons by Giorgio Vasari (perhaps assisted by young Bernardino Poccetti) and on the basis of a learned iconographic program drawn up by Vincenzo Borghini, aimed at exalting Duke Cosimo as benefactor of the family.
More specifically, below are illustrated the virtues of the soul that best suit life in the service of the prince, such as Modesty, Prudence, Fidelity, and, above, the effects of such virtues, such as the Obedience, Secrecy and Solicitude. The same reasons justify the presence on the front of the Medici coat of arms with its inscription and, above the last appeal, the representation of the benefits that follow this service, such as Reputation, Wealth and finally Fame.
From the entrance hall, which has a beautiful wrought iron gate crowned by the family crest, the central courtyard, which is not particularly large and has a rectangular plan with arches on the side opposite the entrance. There is a copy of the famous statue of Mercury by Giambologna. From here a staircase leads to the upper floors. In the rooms on the noble floor, currently the seat of the Pandolfini Auction House, its original structure is still clearly visible, and a grandiose stone fireplace is still visible, also made by Alfonso Parigi on a project by Ammannati: at the top it presents an inscription and a bust of the Spanish courtier who had the palace built. In various reception rooms there are also pleasant decorations from the early decades of the nineteenth century attributable to the activity of Luigi Catani, called to decorate the palace by Lorenzo Maria de Montalvo.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is a museum in Florence, on the north-east side of the Piazza del Duomo. It collects works of art from the sacred complex of the Duomo of Florence, Giotto’s Baptistery and Bell Tower, with a very important nucleus of Gothic and Renaissance statuary.
Among the most important works, works by Andrea Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio, Nanni di Banco, Ghiberti ‘s Doors, Michelangelo ‘s Pietà Bandini and one of the largest collections in the world of Donatello ‘s works, second only to the National Museum of the Bargello.
Palazzo Sforza di Almeni
The palace of Sforza Almeni, which houses the Medici history museum Museo de ‘Medici. It is a noble and large sixteenth-century palace often linked (albeit in the absence of documentary evidence) to a project drawn up by Bartolomeo Ammannati for Piero d’Antonio Taddei, and erected in an area bordering the L’Aquila tiratoio, where they already existed. several houses owned by the Ghinetti and Mazzei families. Confiscated by Cosimo I from the Taddei family for his opposition to the Medici regime, it was shortly after donated by the duke to his cupbearer Sforza Almeni, who further enriched it with a pictorial decoration extended over the entire main façade, created by Cristoforo Gherardi with the collaboration by Giorgio Vasaristarting from a project and drawings provided by Vasari himself (about 1555).
Despite the loss of the external pictorial decoration and many of the decorations that enriched it internally, the factory does not seem to have been deprived too much of the beauty inherent in the harmonious proportions of the main front which, developed for three floors organized in six axes on Via dei Servi, determines a spur in correspondence with via del Castellaccio (Canto del Castellaccio) softened by a later balcony. Still on via dei Servi, on the ground floor, the large entrance door is flanked by two sumptuous kneeling windows (isolated on the large plastered surface) that refer to the Ammannati manner, close as they are to those of Palazzo Giugni in via degli Alfani and the Ramirez de Montalvo palacedi borgo degli Albizi (in the face of this attribution supported by most scholars, it should be noted that Heinrich von Geymüller instead advances the name of Giuliano di Baccio d’Agnolo).
Despite the showy abrasion of the gray stone, it is still clearly perceptible how a dense and varied decoration was concentrated here, lion heads in the tympanum and in the supports, a Greek fret running on the windowsill, and triumphs of arms in the mirroring between the lower shelves (entirely lost that of the window on the right, the other is still partially legible). Also noteworthy are the railings, supported at the bottom by turtles.
On the door is a shield with the arms of the Frosini Matteucci family and, on the acute corner of via del Castellaccio, the encomiastic shield with the Medici – Toledo arms placed at the time of the Sforza Almeni property. The original shield, already removed in 1901 because it was unsafe, was restored by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in 1955 and repaired in the entrance hall of the building (the one you see on the corner is a copy).
Inside there is a room with a frescoed vault, with a complex set of allegorical figures framed by grotesques, probably conceived by Vincenzo Borghini and created by artists of the Vasari school who in those same years worked on the facade, in the group also engaged in decorating the interiors of Palazzo Vecchio. The allegorical figure in the hall and the small compartmented ceiling of the “stufetta” on the first floor also refer to the same group of artists. Also on the main floor there is also a frescoed room with ruins and a mythological case between Juno, Minerva and Aphrodite by the painter Mauro Soderini. In other rooms there are remains of decorative friezes with cherubs and festoons referable to the late 17th century.
Piazza Santissima Annunziata
The Medici family ruled ends in the beautiful Piazza Santissima Annunziata and the church, where the equestrian monument of Ferdinando de’ Medici, son of Cosimo I, stands tall. Interestingly, the Grand Duke is depicted turned towards Palazzo Vecchio (and thus, towards his father’s monument), but also towards Palazzo Budini Gattai, where it is said one of his lovers lived.
Also in the beautiful Palazzo Santissima Annunziata is the Hospital of the Innocents, the first example in Europe of a structure dedicated to helping children in need (it was an orphanage) and one of the first examples of Renaissance architecture, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.