Download The Rough Guides' Florence Directions 1 (Rough Guide Directions) PDF

TitleThe Rough Guides' Florence Directions 1 (Rough Guide Directions)
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size4.4 MB
Total Pages214
Table of Contents
                            Contents
Introduction
Ideas
Places
Accommodation
Essentials
Festivals
Language
small print & Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

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Florence

Up-to-date DIRECTIONS

Inspired IDEAS

User-friendly MAPS

A ROUGH GUIDE SERIES

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simple and yet more perfect.
The space was commissioned
by Giovanni Bicci de’ Medici
as a private chapel; on his death,
Giovanni was buried beneath
the massive marble slab at the
centre of the chapel, with his
wife, Piccarda. Another tomb, on
the left as you enter, is the resting
place of Giovanni’s grandsons,
Giovanni and Piero de’ Medici.

More arresting than either
of the tombs, however, is the
chapel’s ornamentation, which
is largely the work of Donatello,
carried out between 1434 and
1443. He created both the
cherub-fi lled frieze and the
eight extraordinary tondi above
it, depicting the four Evangelists
and a quartet of scenes from
the life of St John. Donatello
was also responsible for the two
bronze doors, showing pairs of
disputatious martyrs (the left
door), and the Apostles and
Fathers of the Church (the
right). Lastly, the stellar fresco
on the dome inevitably draws
the eye: the painted stars might
be intended to show the state
of the heavens on July 16,
1416, the birthday of Piero de’
Medici, or on July 6, 1439, the

date on which the union of the
Eastern and Western churches
was celebrated at the Council of
Florence.

The Biblioteca Medicea-
Laurenziana
Mon–Sat 8.30am–1.30pm; free, except
during special exhibitions. A gateway
to the left of San Lorenzo’s
facade leads through a pleasant
cloister and through a doorway
up to the Biblioteca Medicea-
Laurenziana. Wishing to create a
suitably grandiose home for the
family’s precious manuscripts,
Pope Clement VII – Lorenzo’s
nephew – asked Michelangelo
to design a new library in 1524.
The Ricetto, or vestibule, of
the building he eventually came
up with more than thirty years
later is a revolutionary show-
piece of Mannerist architecture,
delighting in paradoxical display:
brackets that support nothing,
columns that sink into the walls
rather than stand out from them,
and a fl ight of steps so large that
it almost fi lls the room, spilling
down like a solidifi ed lava fl ow.

From this eccentric space,
you’re sometimes allowed into
the tranquil reading room; here,
too, almost everything is the
work of Michelangelo, even the
inlaid desks. Exhibitions in the
connecting rooms draw on the
15,000-piece Medici collection,
which includes manuscripts as
diverse as a fi fth-century copy
of Virgil – the collection’s
oldest item – and a treatise on
architecture by Leonardo.

The Cappelle Medicee
Tues–Sat 8.15am–4.50pm; 1st, 3rd
& 5th Sun of month and 2nd & 4th
Mon of month same hours; e6.
Michelangelo’s most celebrated
contribution to the San Lorenzo
complex forms part of the
Cappelle Medicee, which are � T H E S A G R E S T I A V E C C H I A , S A N L O R E N Z O

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entered from Piazza Madonna
degli Aldobrandini, at the back
of the church.

After passing through the
crypt, where almost fi fty lesser
Medici are buried, you climb
up to the Cappella dei Prin-
cipi (Chapel of the Princes),
an oppressively marble-plated
hall built as a mausoleum for
Cosimo I and the grand dukes
who succeeded him. Pass
straight through for the Sagrestia
Nuova, which was designed by
Michelangelo as a tribute to
Brunelleschi’s Sagrestia Vecchia
in the main body of San
Lorenzo. Architectural experts
go into raptures over the sophis-
tication of the construction,
notably the empty niches above
the doors, which play complex
games with the visual vocabu-
lary of classical architecture, but
the lay person will be drawn to
the three fabulous Medici tombs
(1520–34), two wholly and one
partly by Michelangelo.

The tomb on the left, as
you stand with your back to
the entrance door, belongs to
Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, the

grandson of Lorenzo the Mag-
nifi cent. Michelangelo depicts
him as a man of thought, and
his sarcophagus bears fi gures of
Dawn and Dusk, the times of
day whose ambiguities appeal to
the contemplative mind. Oppo-
site stands the tomb of Lorenzo
de’ Medici’s youngest son, Giu-
liano, Duke of Nemours; as a
man of action, his character is
symbolized by the clear
antithesis of Day and Night.
Both men are greatly fl attered
by Michelangelo’s power-
fully vivid portraits: in reality
Giuliano was an easygoing
but feckless individual, while
Lorenzo combined ineffectuality
with unbearable arrogance. Both
died young and unlamented
of tuberculosis, combined in
Lorenzo’s case with syphilis.

The two principal effi gies
were intended to face the
equally grand tombs of Lorenzo
de’ Medici and his brother
Giuliano, two Medici who
had genuine claims to fame.
The only part of the project
completed by Michelangelo is
the Madonna and Child, the last

� B I B L I O T E C A M E D I C E A - L A U R E N Z I A N A : T H E I N T E R I O R S TA I R C A S E

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http://www.directionsguides.com

Page 214

Other DIRECTIONS
Guides include:

“A guide as direct as DIRECTIONS

is exactly what I need when I’m

visiting a city for the fi rst time”

The Independent, London


ACCURATE
RELIABLE
DIRECTIONS

Florence DIRECTIONS has all you need
to get the most out of the city: the top places
to stay, the sights not to miss, the coolest bars
… in short, the best the city has to offer.

Browse our ideas section and you’ll know
what you want to do 24 hours a day. Flip to the
places section and explore the city, district
by district, with every sight, restaurant, bar
and shop located on our easy-to-use maps.

It’s like having a local friend plan your trip.

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