When you visit the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence, Italy you will probably think I am crazy to say that I was a bit disappointed. The loggia courtyard is impressive and the small garden in the back is elegant and lovely. I’m really not sure what I expected. Perhaps it is because so much of the palace was not open to the public. Perhaps I expected a much bigger and more sprawling building that the rusticated 3-story stone square taking up a major part of an inner city block (following his exile from the city, Cosimo di Medici was trying to keep a slightly more humble profile). Perhaps I was just spoiled by visiting the massive Palazzo Pitti.
I mean, the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is magnificent. But over the centuries many details have changed, and it’s also having to pay for its upkeep (which is fair enough), so on the day I went I was unable to access the magnificent mirrored ballroom with its frescoed ceiling because it was being used for a conference on something to do with IT. Perhaps that just ruined the mood for me, with my imaginings of Renaissance life in the palace of the wealthy banking family who controlled Florence.
What I did see, though – and it’s small so I had to bide my time and wait for a large tour group who were completely filling it – was the 15th-century Magi Chapel. Completely frescoed on every wall by the artist, Benezzo Gozzoli, it’s fabulous and well worth the visit. Throughout the religious stories depicted are dotted the faces of the Medici family and other notables of the church and Renaissance Florence – now that’s they way to do a family portrait!