Results 1-6of 6 Reviews
blackpool, United Kingdom
August 30, 2004
On balance Palazzo Medici-Riccardi must be considered one of Florence's second tier attractions. With its limited (though excellent) artistic content it cannot compete with the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi, or the Accademia. But for those with historical and political interests it is worth an hour of your time.
Most visitors are interested in only two rooms. The first is the original chapel adorned by Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes. His magnificent and large Journey of the Magi (1460) could be considered one of the first celebrity works of art in so far as it portrays numerous members of the Medici household, including an 11-year-old Lorenzo the Magnificent as pilgrims en route to Bethlehem. Gozzoli has even included himself in the entourage, (a practice not uncommon amongst renaissance artists,) and helpfully inscribes his cap with his name lest we miss him. You may have to wait a few minutes for entry to this chapel as space restrictions only permit seven people inside at any one time.
The other much-visited room is the Gallery, the ceiling of which is covered by Luca Giordano's fresco, The Apotheosis of the Medici. I have no idea whether Mark Twain gazed on this during his visit to Florence but if he did he was no doubt apoplectic with rage at this sycophantic glorification of the fat and the useless.
One other work of art is worthy of mention, a beautiful Virgin and Child by Filippo Lippi (who you may remember used to be locked in here by Cosimo il Vecchio to stop his drinking and womanizing). Apparently it's been shifted about from room to room over the past 500 or so years and when I saw it was displayed in a hall outside the chamber of Florence's provincial assembly which meets here. Unusually, you can walk round the back of the painting, which I did and discovered Lippi had sketched a man's face on the rear of the canvass. Who is it, I wonder?
Finally, there is a small but pleasant outdoor cloister and garden, peaceful and quiet, where you can sit and read if you wish. And recall that Mussolini and Hitler took drinks here before a banquet in 1938.
From journal Living and Learning in the Cradle of the Renaissance
August 29, 2004
It is the Capella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes) which has generated the greatest distaste. Mark Twain, constantly struggling to keep his tongue out of his cheek, professed his outrage with the mausoleum, the Medici, and the artists who did their bidding, such as Michelangelo and Raphael. In The Innocents Abroad, published in 1869, Twain proclaims that the only reason the chapel's large central space is empty is because the Medici had planned on stealing the Holy Sepulchre from Jerusalem and having it placed in their midst.
Despite the failure of this attempted, blasphemous larceny, Twain maintains that the opulence of the interior still tends to overwhelm. 'It is as large as a church; its pavement is rich enough for the pavement of a king's palace; its great dome is gorgeous with frescoes...the vast walls made wholly of precious stones...polished till they glow like great mirrors...and before the statue of one of these dead Medicis reposes a crown that blazes with diamonds and emeralds...and a happy thing it will be for Italy when they melt away in the public treasury.'
Byron's more economical but no less scathing judgment was that the chapel was comprised of 'fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcases.'
I must confess that neither the blasphemy and rotten corpses, or even the dubious historical reputation of the Medici dynasty, significantly affected my own reaction to the ostentation and opulence which confronts the visitor. Artistic merit or lack of it is not determined by the worthiness of those to whom it is dedicated. What did occur to me, however, was how much Cosimo il Vecchio, buried in the Old Sacristy next door and his even more modest father Giovanni, would have hated it.
In contrast to the Chapel of the Princes, Michelangelo's New Sacristy has been widely admired. Ironically, some of his most venerated statuary, Day, Night, Dawn, and Dusk adorns the tombs of a pair of Medicean nonentities while the tombs of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Pope Leo X were never completed.
The admission charge of Euro 6 may seem a little steep but take a look in case Signore Berlusconi decides to follow Mark Twain's advice and melt the whole edifice down for the public treasury.
January 30, 2002
I would classify this palazzo as somewhat barren. Not a whole lot to see compared to other similar sights. If you have a yen for anything Medici, then go by all means. If not, it's an easy pass.
From journal Four days in Florence and Siena
June 30, 2001
From journal FLORENCE
by Mary Porcher
New Haven, Connecticut
March 27, 2001
The Medici Palace was a definite disappointment. It had a small garden, small courtyard, and small chapel. There was one beautiful room with gold and paintings everywhere, and there was a painting of the Madonna and Child (Lippi) that was not lit and was under glass. It was difficult to understand why there was even an admission fee here. The chapel is what you will read about, and it’s why people come here. The wall scenes in the chapel were painted by Gozzoli and are nice. But the chapel is VERY small. Only 15 people are allowed inside, and there just isn’t much to see if you compare it to other palaces in Italy.
Ratings 1-10 (10 is "see this no matter what!" and 0 is "avoid it!")Jason: 5, Mary 4, Mom 3
From journal Five Days in Florence
December 6, 2000
From journal Italy: Living in Firenze