Sunshine, Shadows, Lemon Trees, Medici


The peaceful garden of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, in the golden light of a perfect fall day in Florence.

Five quick facts about the palazzo:

1. The palazzo was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder — founder of the Medici bank and the patriarch of the political dynasty — in 1444.

2. An early design by Filippo Brunelleschi (of Duomo fame) was rejected because it was “deemed too sumptuous”¹ for Cosimo’s more discreet taste.

3. Ultimately, the palazzo was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi (or simply, Michelozzo), a favorite architect of the Medici, and has been called the first Renaissance building erected in Florence.

4. The courtyard was once home to Donatello’s David (now in the Bargello).

5. The image below captures a few interesting architectural details which well represent Florentine style: the simple but impressive stone facade which appealed to Cosimo’s sober taste; the iron hooks used in days past as a hitch for horses; and the Kneeling Windows designed by Michelangelo and so called because “because of the shape of the consoles supporting the window­sill, which reach almost to the ground like a pair of legs.”²

(On a personal note — watch out for those kneeling windows which can be found all over town. Poor Daughter crashed head first into one last summer in the Santo Spirito district. All was well, especially after ice (ghiaccio) was applied and gelato was consumed).

Perhaps in filling Cosimo’s wishes, there’s not much fanfare upon first glimpse of this building. It sits on a busy street corner of the city, just across from the basilica of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels. If you weren’t looking for it, you may not realize that the building located at 3 Via Cavour was once home to Florence’s most powerful family, and the greatest patrons of the Renaissance.


Image Credits:

This post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Brad Nixon says:

    Those windows are a trick that contribute to the building’s seeming “normalcy.” Looking at the, they look like ordinary widows, until one notices the immense scale. Not the only place architects did something like that in Florence, but a great example. I learned a lot in your concise post. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much, Brad. Glad you enjoyed it! I agree with you on the architectural trick.

  2. Diane Frisch says:

    Love this. I will be there next month! Your posts are getting me so eager to go! I love the photos and your commentary!

  3. Gracefully Global says:

    I’ve seen this building so many times, but I never knew you could go in! Is it open often? Sorry about your daughter. I’ve had so many close calls, too.

    1. If I remember correctly it is open often. The palazzo is lovely although mostly empty, but worth popping into if you’re close. Thanks for the love for daughter, we were both more observant after that!

      1. Gracefully Global says:

        Yes, it is a good reminder for me, too! I’ll be in Florence in a week and a half, and she’ll be on my mind the first time I have a near-crash. 🙂

  4. Love the pavimento in the first photo!

  5. Love the photo with the sunlight you took. It makes me feel like I am standing in that lovely courtyard myself! Also great info. Will be sure to visit my next trip to Florence.

    1. Thank you! It was just luck to capture that light, and I agree with you, this photo really carries me back to a beautiful afternoon. I hope you get to Florence soon!

  6. #4 is particularly interesting – it gives context to the beautiful statue.

    1. I hadn’t heard that bit of information about the statue before researching this post. Thanks for visiting and always sharing your kind and positive thoughts!

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