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The Medici's Florence

The Medici were a noble family that ruled Florence for over three centuries. Thanks to their constant contribution, during the 16th century, the city became one of the most significant artistic and literary destinations in Europe until it was the emblem of the Renaissance.

Even today, the numerous traces of the presence of the Medici family in the artistic and cultural panorama of the city are still evident.

FLORENTINE DESTINATIONS LINKED TO THE MEDICI FAMILY

Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Palazzo Medici Riccardi is a true example of Renaissance architecture.

It was commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici, head of the Medici banking family, and built between 1444 and 1484. It is characterized by two asymmetrical doors that access a Brunelleschian courtyard with a typical Italian garden.

In addition to Cosimo, Palazzo Medici Riccardi also housed minor family members until, in 1659, Ferdinando II sold it to Marquis Riccardi.

Palazzo Vecchio

The official name of this magnificent building is Palazzo della Signoria, after the homonymous square, it overlooks.

In the 16th century, it was the official residence of Cosimo I, who doubled its size, thanks to the help of artists such as Giorgio Vasari and Bernardo Buontalenti.

The building was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, while Vasari realized the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred), the Studiolo di Francesco I, the Apartments of Eleonora of Toledo, and the Apartments of the Elements (Sala degli Elementi).

The palace took the name of Palazzo Vecchio - which literally means "The Old Palace" - when Cosimo decided to move his residence to Palazzo Pitti.

Vasari Corridor

Cosimo I also commissioned the construction of the so-called Vasari Corridor. This passage connected Palazzo Pitti, his new residence, with Palazzo Vecchio, the headquarters of the administrative offices. Nowadays, the Vasari Corridor connects the Uffizi Art Gallery with the Boboli Gardens.

It has been closed since 2016 due to modernization works but will reopen to the public in 2022. The Corridor will be accessible through a special entrance on the ground floor of the Uffizi Gallery. It will then continue over Ponte Vecchio, towards the Medici Boboli Garden and the grand-ducal palace of Palazzo Pitti.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

The Basilica of San Lorenzo or St. Lawrence is the oldest church in Florence and, for many years, was the official parish of the de' Medici family.

It displays magnificent architectural works worth seeing, such as the pulpits by Donatello and the facade by Michelangelo. It also houses the tomb of Cosimo de' Medici, who is buried in a column of the crypt.

He chose this specific location to highlight his role as a pillar both within his family and in the church rankings. The inlaid marble floor that you notice when walking inside the building is also a tribute to the head of the de' Medici family.

Laurentian Library

The Laurentian Library is another attraction linked to the Medici lineage that is worth a visit. Commissioned by Pope Clement VII de' Medici, it holds over 3000 manuscripts belonging to the Florentine family.

It was designed by Michelangelo, who personally directed the works between 1523 and 1534. Later on, Cosimo I entrusted Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati to complete the project, still following Michelangelo's drawings.

With its precious manuscripts by Greek and Latin scholars, the Library reflects the humanistic atmosphere that characterized the court of Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata is an elegant square in the historic center of Florence, the most beautiful one according to many.

The majestic equestrian monument of Ferdinando de' Medici, son of Cosimo I, stands at the center of it. The Grand Duke is represented with his face turned towards Palazzo Vecchio, therefore towards his father's monument. However, others think he actually looks towards Palazzo Budini Gattai, where apparently one of his mistresses lived.

At the corner of Via dei Servi and Via de' Pucci you can then see a sealed window. It is said that right here was planned Cosimo's assassination. The attempt failed, and the guilty parties were soon captured and punished. After that, the Grand Duke ordered to seal the window permanently.

 

Hotel Orto de' Medici and its garden

The Orto de' Medici Hotel is itself a testimony to the imprint given by the ancient Medici family to the Tuscan capital.

During the Renaissance, the hotel's garden was the San Marco Garden, the place where Lorenzo de' Medici had established his art school.

According to the legend, it is right here that Lorenzo met Michelangelo for the first time. He literally became impressed by the young artist's skills, and the two immediately started a vital friendship, which then allowed Michelangelo to become a renowned artist in the Florentine context.

 
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