The Garden of San Marco
Inside “Orto de’ Medici” Hotel
Via San Gallo, 30
There used to be a big park next to the San Marco Convent since the XV century. This green area was bought by Clarice Orsini, the noble wife of Lorenzo de’ Medici (“the Magnificent”), because of its convenient location for the family, just next to the north side of the Medici’s home palace. Here Lorenzo placed his collection of ancient Roman sculptured marbles, he had mostly purchased in Rome.
The garden had a fundamental importance in the artistic development of Renaissance, since all the generation of Florentine masters formed here. Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Rafael, Michelangelo and many others learnt the basic skills of the artistic techniques here, studying and copying the classical works of art, the same masters who were going to revolutionize the European Art soon.
Lorenzo was the life and soul of this kind of school, which was later recognized as the first Academy of Belle Arti in Europe.
There is a nice anecdote about how the young Michelangelo attracted the attention on himself. He was about 15 years old when he sculpted a head of an old “faunus”, a Roman divinity half man half billy goat. This work was a copy of a Roman sculpture, but he decided to realize the mouth open instead of close, to show the teeth and the tongue of the man. When Lorenzo saw the work, he said an old man could never had all those perfect teeth, just to play a trick on the kid… Michelangelo then, quickly broke a tooth and drilled a gum, while waiting Lorenzo to pass next to him again. The Magnificent, as he saw the change, was touched by the readiness of mind and the simplicity of the boy, so he decided to ask Michelangelo’s father, Ludovico Buonarroti, to let the boy under his protection, giving him hospitality in the Medici Palace.
Just where this event took place you can find today a plaque dedicated to Michelangelo. You can see it from the flowered terrace of our hotel.