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This Florence tour explores the Medici Family, Michelangelo, & the times of the Renaissance with an expert guide
On our Private Medici & Michelangelo Florence walking tours you'll appreciate the splendour of the Medici dynasty with one of our expert Florence tour guides. We'll start in the family palace, where you can watch the Three Wise Men and their courtly entourage travel across the fields in their beautiful damask robes. Close-by is the New Sacristy with the famous statues of Night and Day, Dawn and Dusk, sculpted by Michelangelo to adorn the tombs of two Medici Dukes. Last but not least, is the chapel of Princes, the Princes' octagon shaped mausoleum decorated in polychrome marbles, mother -of-pearl, coral, and lapis-lazuli.
The Medici Palace was built by architect Michelozzo for Cosimo the Elder between 1444 and 1460. The open courtyard is decorated with marble inlay tondos connected by etched festoons with of course Medici coats of arms. From this elegant proportioned cloister a stairway leads to the private family chapel whose walls are covered with frescoes depicting the journey of the Three Wise Men for Cosimo's son Piero. The Three Wise Men was also the name of a wealthy brotherhood dedicated to re-enactments in the city, sponsored by guess who, the Medici's.
Pierro commissioned Benozzo Gozzoli to decorate the chapel whose colors, textile patterns and landscape put you in a fairytale world. There are self portraits of the Medicis in the murals, portraits of the Emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople, portraits of Renaissance nobles tied to the Medici, leopards, falcons and a fencing teacher. You almost feel like you're looking at rich tapestries because the patterns of the brocade costumes, the swords, the saddles, the plants and animals are so rich in detail.
Then, our Florence Medici & Michaelangelo walking tours leads us outside the palace to the complex of the San Lorenzo Church where the Medici dynasty is commemorated and buried. We enter through the crypt of the octagon Chapel of Princes and take the stairs to the New Sacristy, built by Michelangelo for the Medici Pope Leo X, who wanted to commemorate his father and uncle (Lorenzo the Magnificent d. 1492, and Giuliano, victim of the Pazzi Conspiracy d.1478), and his recently deceased cousins (Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, d. 1516 and Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, d. 1519 ).
These were fervent political years, in 1527 the Medici's were driven out of Florence, in 1530 Michelangelo is appointed director of the work of fortifying Florence, besieged by the Imperialist army. Finally a pact is made between the Pope and the Emperor and the Medicis come back to Florence.
When you enter the chapel, you meet a sculpture of the Madonna on the tomb of Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano; to the right is the tomb of the Duke of Nemours with the reclining figures of Night and Day. Opposite is the tomb of the Duke of Urbino with Dawn and Dusk. Trapezoid shaped windows lead your eyes soaring upward to the half dome. Michelangelo sculpts the dukes in the guise of Roman guards, idealized, while the allegorical figures of time are nude women and men dreaming, thinking, waking or sleeping.
The distribution of light which plays on the white walls and darkens in the shadows of the gray stone cornices creates a very calm and ethereal atmosphere. Michelangelo worked on the chapel between 1520 and 1534, then left for Rome. The real splendour of the Medici dynasty is seen in the third sacristy, the Chapel of the Princes, the mausoleum begun in the late 1500s to contain the remains of the descendants of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. This was the octagon shaped chapel made to impress and immortalize forever the image of the power of the Grand Dukes by the use of rare precious stones, available and affordable by a chosen few.
There are life-size portraits sculpted in rare red granite. There are coats of arms below the wall tombs that represent the subject cities of the Grand Duchy. They are all done in different color stones cut and pieced together like a puzzle. The craftsmanship for this technique called Commesso di Pietre Dure is phenomenal; it's like looking at paintings made of stone using all the different shades and tones of the color spectrum, but the pallet comes from the precious stones and minerals found in nature. Some of the most impressive works can be seen to the left of the altar.
Our Private Medici and Michelangelo tour will start from a centrally location in FLorence. We will advise you at the time of booking