Michelangelo in Florence

August 17, 2011 by

Sightseeing, Things To Do, Tours & Activities

A copy of Michelangelo's David, which stands where the original once stood in front of the Piazza della Signoria

Florence’s most famous son must be Michelangelo. Yes, he left for Rome and painted the Sistine Ceiling for the pope, but in Florence I always feel his presence very strongly.

There is The David standing proudly outside the Palazzo Vecchio, which on any visit to Florence you’ll likely pass the famous statue more than a dozen times. Of course, it’s a copy, the original having been moved inside Accademia Gallery to protect it from the weather, pollution and vandals. Then there’s the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The front of the church is unfinished although Michelangelo designed a façade that was never built.

Inside is the Laurenziana Library, also designed by Michelangelo, with its stunning staircase. The Medici Chapel was Michelangelo’s first attempt at architecture and it’s a pretty good one, although it’s tacked on the back of the San Lorenzo church and fronted by a small carpark and an offshoot of the marketplace. Inside, the two marble tombs he made for the Medici family are simply stunning; there were meant to be four but the project was not completed, like so many ambitious projects of the Renaissance (the Medici were temporarily exiled from the city and Michelangelo moved to Rome).

In the Uffizi, you have his only Florentine painting Tondo Doni or Holy Family, his only round painting, beautiful, and surrounded by the maddest wooden frame with heads protruding from it – also Michelangelo’s doing.

And finally there is Casa Buonarotti – the house made into a museum to Michelangelo by his nephew. It’s worth the short walk there if you want some history and sense of the life Michelangelo lived in Florence but don’t expect a massive gallery of his work. His design for San Lorenzo is here, and one room is completely painted by later artists and well worth seeing. Michelangelo’s tomb is in Santa Croce church in Florence.

-Philippa Burne

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