Il Grande Museo del Duomo


Il Grande Museo del Duomo

“A unique repository of faith, history, and art”


By Isabella Pircio (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Museum Hours: 09,00 – 19,00


Hiding behind the eastern shadows of The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is Il Grande Museo del Duomo, which consists of a newly constructed six thousand sq. meters dedicated to highlighting the architectural and cultural heritage of the city of Florence. Initially founded in 1296, the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore supervised the construction of the cathedral and bell tower. In 1891, The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore was formally made responsible for the museum, focusing primarily on the preservation of cultural heritage. In 2013, The Opera introduced a new brand titled Il Grande Museo del Duomo, aiming not only on the preservation but the display of the Florentine spiritual life. The newly renovated space, combined with this new mission, allowed for the groundbreaking way of honoring and exhibiting the Renaissance that visitors see today. Known for its extensive collection of Florentine sculptures, the museum offers visitors an exclusive look into Florence during the Renaissance and the artists that made it so extraordinary. The recently renovated museum is spread across three floors and twenty-five rooms and exhibits over seven hundred works of art in a setting similar that they were commissioned. Because of this, the museum feels much less like a traditional museum and mirrors a devotional space, exuberating a very authentic and intimate experience.

Visitors are greeted at the entrance of the museum with a striking marble wall engraved with thousands of names of architects and artists who, together with the citizens of Florence, are accredited with the monuments we cherish today. Names such as Donatello, Michelangelo, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Luca della Robbia are shown as a prelude to what they will soon experience. The public is provided with wall texts and object labels throughout the main halls of the museum in both Italian and English.

The museum’s main hall leaves a lasting impression, exhibiting a replica of the first façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, accompanied by Lorenzo Ghiberti’s door for the Baptistery of San Giovani known as Gates of Paradise. Presented entirely in glass, the display was explicitly engineered and created during the period of renovation for Ghiberti’s doors. Creating a real-life experience, the museum has constructed very detailed and accurate sixteenth century Piazza del Duomo. Viewers continue within the museum and are provided the unique opportunity to observe the reconstructed piazza from above. The gallery as a whole is handsome and presents an exciting environment for the public to interact with the collection. The Museo del Duomo has created videos and short documentaries displayed throughout the space, providing the public with seated areas to experience it differently.

Continuing within the museum space, viewers find themselves standing directly in front of Donatello’s Penitent Magdalene. The masterpiece is centered perfectly within the room and is displayed entirely in glass. The public is therefore presented with the opportunity to experience the sculpture from all angles. Displaying the wooden sculpture in this method allows for an intimate experience while continuing to preserve it. Michelangelo’s The Deposition is displayed similarly, allowing guests to interact with the sculpture from all sides. This is especially interesting because it allows the viewer to observe the sculpture as a work in progress, as well as the marks where Michelangelo himself disfigured the sculpture that was once intended for his tomb.

Il Grande Museo del Duomo continues replicating devotional spaces with the original works of art commissioned for the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The cantorie, or singing galleries, created by Luca della Robbia for Santa Maria del Fiore, are raised and displayed in their appropriate position. There is music accompanying this room dedicated to the church sanctuary; however, viewers may find it a bit distracting while trying to navigate the space.

The purchase of a single ticket grants admission to the museum, as well as, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, and the Crypt of Santa Reparata; also included is a unique code to access Wi-Fi. Visitors can download the Museo Duomo App which provides video guides specifically made to be multi-sensory and extremely accessible. The application is also designed to provide information and various interpretations of the art. The museum itself is quite accessible, with ramps elevators and even wheelchairs available. However, problems arrive regarding the other monuments within the complex. Throughout the museum are various touchable replicas of sculptures, providing a tactile experience of the collection without the dependence of sight.

The museum has made an extensive effort to be accessible for all people, focusing on inclusion and active participation. These values are continued and respected within the educational activities, courses, and workshops offered by Il Grande Museo del Duomo. Offering a vast menu of educational programs and activities, the museum explores various teaching strategies such as traditional lectures to hands-on activities and multi-disciplinary approaches. The museum does an incredible job of representing the values within the mission statement, education students, and the public the history of Florence through centuries of religious art.

Since the reopening of Il Grande Museo del Duomo in 2015, there has been a staggering rise in attendance that now averages around 700,000 per year. It seems clear that the institution’s renovation and restructuring have provided the city of Florence and its public a beautiful museum that successfully recounts the history of Florence for all who are willing to listen.


Photo courtesy Isabella Pircio





Casa Buonarroti


Casa Buonarroti

by Kylie Flynn (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)

Edited by Isabella Pircio (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)



1 November – 28 February: 10.00 am – 4.30 pm

March 1 – October 31: 10 am-5pm

(Closed on Tuesdays)



After visiting the Basilica of Santa Croce, visitors can find Casa Buonarroti not far away, and easily accessible. The experience of Casa Buonarroti feels more personal, quiet, and private to the many other Florentine locations that are home to some of Michelangelo’s great works. There are no hordes of tourists, long lines, or security watching every move; instead, it is an intimate space and experience. This space is unique because it not only tells an exhaustive story of Michelangelo, but it also includes details of his family and their recognition that his talents needed a place for appreciation. Casa Buonarroti is still reminiscent of the home that it once was but serves as a monument to Michelangelo’s creative life.

Michelangelo was known not to want his preparatory work seen by anyone. Wanting to be remembered as a perfect artist, he believed anything alluding to the opposite should be destroyed to protect his reputation. While living in Florence, his nephew preserved as much art as he could. However, after his death in 1564, it was given to Cosimo I to earn status and recognition. Thankfully, his great-nephew Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, began to collect back his works and started the transformation of Casa Buonarroti. He commissioned multiple murals inside the house to honor and treasure Michelangelo’s life, and works of art still kept in his possession. After a rocky history of Michelangelo’s art being removed and disbursed again, Casa Buonarroti became a museum in 1858. For the time between 1960-1975, the drawings went to the Uffizi for proper restoration and then returned to their home.

The layout of the museum is simple to follow and flows throughout. The first floor is dedicated to a temporary exhibition space that is now hosting Michelangelo e i Medici attraverso le carte dell’Archivio Buonarroti, an exhibition dedicated to showing the relationship between Michelangelo and his commissioners, the Medici family. There is something special about these behind the scenes encounters. The letters display the precedent to the masterpiece and allow the viewer to become a part of the dialogue. The only downfall of this exhibit for international visitors is that all the labels are in Italian. Still, it does not take away the feeling of awe when seeing these dated documents between notable Renaissance figures.

The remainder of the first floor houses the archaeological room, Buonarroti Family Collections, and a collection on the derivations of Michelangelo, which is interesting to see his influential ideas on artists during the sixteenth century. Excluding the temporary exhibition space, the first floor begins including English labels to help viewers who are not familiar with Italian.

The upstairs of Casa Buonarroti houses the majority of the collection on display with rooms dedicated to his drawings, models, the studio that was created by Michelangelo the Younger, and other elaborately decorated spaces. Since the second floor is the permanent collection, there are some labels in English for international viewers. Some of the prized pieces that Casa Buonarroti are proud to have are the two relief works done early by Michelangelo, Madonna della Scala and Battle of the Centaurs. They are both located in the same room, which allows the viewer to compare the two works easily. Like most of the collection, the sculptures are behind a sheet of glass, which enables the viewer to see the process work and see how Michelangelo thought out his figures.

Casa Buonarroti has a unique presence in the city of Florence. The museum space is different from what Michelangelo’s art is traditionally shown in, providing the viewer with an intimate relationship with him and his legacy. While visiting the Santa Croce area, take the time to stop by Casa Buonarroti and enjoy learning about the family’s life, dedication to collecting, and their admiration for their monumental ancestor.


Photo courtesy Kylie Flynn



Natalia Goncharova’s Life: From Russia to Paris

Natalia Goncharova’s Life: From Russia to Paris

By Isabella Pircio (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Exhibition Dates: 28 September 2019 – 12 January 2020

Daily: 10:00 – 20:00

Thursday: 10:00 – 23:00


The recently inaugurated exhibit titled Natalia Goncharova with Gaugin, Matisse, and Picasso” has been creating buzz around the city of Florence. Located within Palazzo Strozzi, the exhibition commemorates the artist Natalia Goncharova in an innovative exhibit, offering visitors a unique window onto the life of the revolutionary Russian avant-garde artist. Fusing traditional Russian iconography with Western modernity, depression from the First World War, and the endless artistic innovation at the time, Goncharova’s art is a natural consequence of her life experiences. Ultimately, Goncharova’s art provides the perfect medium for visitors to immerse themselves in her life. The exhibition, curated by Ludovica Sebregondi and Matthew Gale, is specifically organized to transport the visitor back in time to “Natalia Goncharova’s Russia”, her voyage throughout Europe during the First World War, and her last residence in Paris.

Visitors begin their journey with a biography of Goncharova, presented through the painting titled “Portrait of Natalia Goncharova” (1907) by Mikhail Larionov, accompanied by photographs, quotes, and brief introductory texts in English and Italian. Natalia Goncharova, the first modern woman artist to be showcased in a monographic exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, is represented in all her artistic passions: as a painter, costume designer, illustrator, graphic artist, set designer, decorator, stylist, and actress.

As viewers continue through the exhibit, they are presented with paintings by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, who each deeply influenced Goncharova as a developing artist. Visitors may be expecting a stronger presence from these artists because of their place in the exhibition name; although, it is quite limited. Having provided specific examples of Goncharova’s inspirations, Palazzo Strozzi presents a unique opportunity for viewers to compare the development of her artistic style and technique. Displaying Goncharova’s artwork separately from those of her influencers allows for visitors to engage in a personal and intimate comparison, comfortably within individual levels of complexity. However, this manner of exhibiting may not directly engage the majority of visitors to participate in the intended discourse.

Later in the exhibit, Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni are both displayed within the context of “Goncharova and Italy” accompanied by Goncharova’s oil on canvas titled “Cyclist” (1913), and watercolor collage “Four Evangelists” (1916). Goncharova’s experimentation of style and technique becomes quite visible in the company of Boccioni’s “Dynamism of a Cyclist” (1913) and “The City Rises” (1913). It is no coincidence that Goncharova’s art was previously displayed and collected with paintings by Giacomo Balla, Mikhail Larionov, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.


Visitors walk through a well-organized space, accompanied by labels, wall panels, and quotes from Goncharova available in both Italian and English. The exhibition space is adorned with bold colors, patterns, and decorations from Goncharova’s art, creating a consistently vibrant environment that is reflective of the energy and creativity in Goncharova’s art. Footage of Natalia Goncharova is shown at multiple points in the exhibit, creating a unique connection between the artist and the viewer. Palazzo Strozzi also provides a multitude of resources for all that are interested in learning more in the Reading Room. Audio guides are offered in English and Italian, at an additional cost. There is also a specially made audio-guide for children. Guided tours of the exhibition are available, designed for both adults and children. For any visitor that is interested in sketching or taking notes, a Drawing Kit is available free of charge at the Info Point, providing a pencil, manual, and additional suggestions.

Palazzo Strozzi is ADA accessible; elevators are accessible throughout the museum. Visitors can take advantage of the various seating that is located throughout the exhibition. Wheelchairs are also obtainable to those who request them, a beneficial feature for those who are traveling.

By exploring the life of an unconventional artist through this exhibition, visitors are transported from Florence and guided through a journey from Russia to Natalia Goncharova’s last days in Paris. Highlighting not only Goncharova’s masterpieces but, providing viewers with a window into her life, as well as the art that inspired her, creates a highly engaging experience. Located in the heart of the Renaissance, the exhibition Natalia Goncharova with Gaugin, Matisse, and Picasso” is a beautifully atypical experience available until January.


Photo Courtesy Isabella Pircio


Gucci Museum

Gucci Museum – Gucci Garden Galleria

By Nora V. Zamora (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)

Edited by Isabella Pircio (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Hours: Monday – Sunday (9 am – 10 pm)


Florence, a living museum rich in history and proud in the quality in craftsmanship and beauty of its architecture, sculptures, paintings, and drawings does not exclude its citizens; who through fashion become living artwork. There is a direct relationship between a fashion house and the person wearing the pieces and becoming expressions of art.

“The art we wear and live with is the art we become. Art—fashion and otherwise
— reflects who we are and who we aspire to be.”  – Georges Berges

Art and fashion, as social, financial, academic, and political status symbols is Florentine at heart. While it is undoubtedly true today, it traces back hundreds of years to the prominent and influential Florentine families, specifically, the Medici’s. Through their commissions of paintings, architecture, and sculpture, they proclaimed their social and political status among the townspeople. The fashion they wore was no exception. They wore brightly colored garments which were expensive to produce and almost impossible to afford. Hence, making a clear statement on their status, wealth, and exclusivity.

It is then no surprise that Florence is host to many museums, including the Gucci Museum. The brand, through its evolution, has become a symbol of quality, elegance, and craftsmanship and has become distinctive and an expression of “made in Italy”.

The Gucci Museum is in the Palazzo della Mercanzia (Palace of the Merchandise) in Piazza della Signoria.

Even if not immediately recognizable as a museum, it is a hidden gem that encapsulates the elegance, style, craftsmanship, uniqueness, and exclusivity of the House. A must-see for a fair in price.

Visitors must enter the store to access the museum — a smart business move. As visitors walk in, the store embodies the Gucci Garden experience. The items displayed in a way that leaves the visitor wondering if they are on exhibit as a collection or if they are for sale. The visitor becomes part of the experience.

Consisting of a variety of exhibits, the museum features “Gucci Garden Galleria: A New Chapter“. Curated especially to recount the various stories of the Gucci brand, the room is supported by various media and arts; a video series displayed in a dark viewing room reminds visitors of a cinema or a nightclub lounge.

All the rooms highlight not only the fashion and the items themselves, but it tells the story of the Gucci woman and the Gucci man. Through these rooms, we begin to see characters come to life, and maybe we see ourselves in the collection.

One of the rooms is: Détournement, which in French conceptually means rerouting, refers to the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble. The room features a wall by contemporary artist Yuko Higuchi who created a mythical creature and incorporated many of the Gucci House motifs. The collection includes ready-to-wear pieces with the Gucci logo displayed in diverse forms and fabrics including a dress from 1969 and a leather jacket with embroidered Donald Duck Disney appliqué.

In the Jardin d’hiver room, the collection is delicate and exquisite. The curator uses technology elegantly and delicately to enhance the user experience, yet it does not overpower the exhibit. The use is purposeful. The room has flowers illustrated on the walls, enhanced by projected birds and butterflies flying. It is all brought together by delicate bird songs playing in the background. Giving the room an ethereal feel, the items embody the Gucci essence.

While walking through the displays, visitors will directly engage with garments, travel trunks, and accessories that each tell their story. Visitors can interact with the quality, craftsmanship, and exclusivity of the Gucci brand and the Gucci client. This museum has just the right mix of history, storytelling, and feeling.

The museum generates a sensation, a nostalgia a longing, desire, and appreciation. The Gucci museum takes this to the next level by allowing the visitor an opportunity to take that feeling home via the items for sale at their store, which presents as delicately as the exhibits themselves.


Galleria dell’Accademia

There’s More to Life than David: Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze

By Isabella Pircio (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Tuesday – Sunday: 08:15 – 18:50


Located on a tranquil Florentine street corner, The Accademia Gallery would be quite easy to miss if it weren’t for the long lines of tourists waiting to enter.  At first glance one might not even recognize the name; Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze seems to be the name of well… an academy!  While the museum was a teaching facility in the 18th century, it is now known globally as “the museum that houses Michelangelo’s David”.  While not a negative associate, the majority of the museum seems to be disregarded by the average visitor.

It’s easy to get distracted by the illuminated and seemingly angelic David that towers at 517 centimeters.  He stands perfectly, with almost no signs of aging on his beautiful white marble façade.  It is quite easy to notice how perfect David stands; however, visitors often don’t learn that the museum was redesigned in the 19th century specifically to house the David.  The custom tribune extenuates Michelangelo’s craftmanship and allows visitors to engage with the piece from all possible angles.  Benches are also provided, encouraging visitors to do more than just take a picture of the masterpiece.

Home to one of the most recognized works of art, the Accademia seems to be a victim of its own fortune.  While the David attracts visitors from around the world, it also pulls them away from the massive collection of altarpieces, musical instruments from the Medici, the Gipsoteca, and even Michelangelo’s Prisoners.  Large crowds seem to flock to Michelangelo’s masterpiece; however, the remainder of the museum seems to be empty in comparison.

It’s hard to imagine walking past a room filled with works by Giotto, however it seems all too common here.  The confusing layout of the museum certainly doesn’t help.  Clear signs would be helpful in such a space; however, the existing signs are misleading and overall confusing.  With all the grand works of art housed here, it is unfortunate that the labeling lacks in quality, and fails to communicate the significance of various works.

Michelangelo’s Prisoners seem to have also been victim to poor labeling and placement.  Placed throughout the hallway leading up to the David, viewers are offered an exclusive look into the mind of a genius.  The Prisoners offer a very unique preview for what awaits; however, it seems that visitors walk past them entirely, being pulled by David’s glow.  Even if one does walk straight to the David, it is not hard to realize the museum lacks technological advancements as well as the organization to provide a layout that encourages visitors to explore the many treasuries within the museum.

Audio guides are offered in a variety of languages; however, are not included with the ticket.  While following the path in Bartolini’s Gallery of plaster casts, viewers will find a continuously rolling video providing very intriguing information.  Unfortunately, the screen has been placed towards the end of the exhibition rather than providing information to the viewer while still immersed in the exhibition.

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze is certainty one of the most visited museums here in Florence; however, it has potential to be so much more than just “the museum that houses Michelangelo’s David”.  Essentially a hidden treasure concealed in David’s shadow, the various collections that makeup The Galleria dell’Accademia are well worth the maze of misleading signs and photo crazy tourists.



Museo Galileo

Museo Galileo

For inquisitive minds of all ages

By Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Open daily from 9:30 – 18:00


The Galileo Museum provides the opportunity for visitors to observe developments in scientific technology from the 16th to 20th centuries and witness various aspects of their practical application. It not only allows visitors a window into the past, but through their programming and didactic communication they are able to utilize modern technology to explain significant scientific advancements in Early Modern history.

As with so many of Florence’s museums the permanent collection was founded by the Medici, beginning with Cosimo I (1519-1574) during the mid 16th century and enlarged by successive generations. It is organized dynastically and thematically as opposed to strictly chronologically allowing for similar objects spanning hundreds of years to be grouped together effectively highlighting developments in scientific technology. While the museum’s collection boasts over 5,000 items, the current display showcases roughly 1/5th of the items allowing each the space for contemplation without overcrowding.

The museum encourages visitors to download a free application that provides basic information regarding operating hours and location while functioning as both an audio guide and map. This feature, available in both English and Italian, is supplemented by free WIFI allowing visitors without data to take advantage of the additional information conveyed through text and short videos on the application. The application allows the museum to effectively utilize current technology to communicate technology of the past.

The itinerary begins on the ground floor which houses display cases holding objects taken from the museum’s vast deposit. Visitors are provided with a timeline illustrating the history of the collection with brief summaries of the most significant events from its inception until the last major rebranding in 2010. Pictorial representations punctuate the text aiding to accentuate pivotal moments in the museum’s history including when the collection was first moved in 1930 to Palazzo Castellani, one of the oldest buildings in the city, and images of their historical displays which highlight the success of the museum’s redesign.

The first floor of the museum holds the earliest objects collected by the Medici family and is divided thematically. The initial display, which includes both a traditional portrait of Ferdinando II (1610-1670) holding a compass while measuring architectural drawings as well as a curious anamorphic portrait of French production, has been decorated with yellow damask wall coverings acting to recall the princely spaces in which the instruments would have originally been displayed. It also includes a didactic video, an additional educational tool used throughout the museum in various locations, helping to illustrate the function of an astrolabe, a tool used by astronomers and navigators to determine latitude on land and sea. It would be used for measuring time, and to aid navigation, which was fundamental to the expansion and exploration of the known world.

The curatorial narration next leads visitors through a display devoted to terrestrial and celestial globes, the star piece of the collection being a Ptolemaic model of the universe created by cosmographer Antoni Santucci (?-1613) for Ferdinando I de’ Medici (1549-1609) and to be housed in the Cosmographic Room in the Uffizi. The decorative scheme of the room, a darkened wood paneled space, creates an atmospheric effect recalling the Guardaroba Nuova of the Uffizi commissioned by Cosimo I, painted with detailed maps and conceived to house similar globes symbolically representing intellectual dominance over the known world.

The importance of geographical knowledge is emphasized in the two successive rooms dedicated to instruments used in navigation and for militaristic campaigns. The wall texts, displayed throughout the museum for those not using the application, explain the expansionist ambitions of the Medici both in Tuscany and in the New World.

Another key feature of the museum is a room devoted to its namesake, famed astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). It combines historical objects, including a framed lens used by Galileo himself and curiously a reliquary-like display of Galileo’s finger, reproductions of several instruments, and video displays which communicate how the objects functioned and how the technology would have been applied contemporarily to its production.

The second floor is dedicated to the Lorraine dynasty and holds a series of graphic wax medical models from La Specola, where the scientific instruments were housed after its foundation as the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History in 1775. This floor also contains the gargantuan experimental electric models used both for scientific discovery and for awe and entertainment in the 18th century court.

Before leaving the museum there is a space dedicated to interactive models, popular with children and adults alike, in which reproductions of the museum’s displays can be used by visitors to further communicate the function of some of the instruments.

The Galileo Museum not only houses historical objects fundamental to the development of scientific technology in the western world, but creates an interactive space allowing for visitors to gain further understanding of their function and significance. Their application, descriptive videos, and narrative panels recount the history of science in Tuscany and beyond create an interactive and accessible experience for visitors of all ages.




Museo Galileo

Per menti curiose di tutte le età

Di Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Aperto tutti i giorni dalle 9:30 – 18:00



Il museo Galileo offre ai visitatori l’opportunità di osservare gli sviluppi della tecnologia scientifica dal XVI al XX secolo e di poter osservare diversi aspetti della loro applicazione pratica. Non solo propone al pubblico una finestra sul passato, ma attraverso la sua programmazione e comunicazione didattica è in grado di impiegare la moderna tecnologia per spiegare significativi progressi scientifici della prima Età Moderna.

Come in molti musei fiorentini, la collezione permanente fu raccolta dai Medici, a partire da Cosimo I (1519-1574) durante la metà del XVI secolo e ampliata dalle generazioni successive. È ordinata seguendo le dinastie che si sono succedute a Firenze e tematicamente, invece di un ordinamento strettamente cronologico, permettendo a oggetti simili realizzati nel corso di centinaia di anni di essere raggruppati insieme evidenziando efficacemente gli sviluppi della tecnologia scientifica. Mentre la collezione del museo vanta oltre cinquemila oggetti, l’esposizione attuale presenta circa un quinto di essi assegnando a ciascuno il proprio spazio così che possa essere contemplato senza sovraffollamento.

Il museo incoraggia i visitatori a scaricare un’applicazione gratuita che fornisce informazioni di base per quanto riguarda gli orari e il luogo e funziona anche come un’audioguida e una mappa. Questa funzione, disponibile sia in inglese che in italiano, è favorita dal Wi-Fi gratuito che consente ai visitatori senza internet di usufruire delle informazioni aggiuntive trasmesse attraverso testi e brevi video sull’applicazione. Questa permette inoltre al museo di utilizzare efficacemente la tecnologia attuale per narrare la tecnologia del passato.

L’itinerario inizia al piano terra, dove si trovano teche che contengono oggetti selezionati dal vasto deposito del museo. Ai visitatori viene fornita una sequenza temporale volta ad illustrare la storia della collezione con brevi riassunti degli eventi più significativi, dalla sua nascita fino all’ultimo importante rinnovamento del 2010. Le rappresentazioni pittoriche accompagnano il testo aiutando a sottolineare i momenti cardine della storia del museo, compreso sia quando la collezione fu spostata per la prima volta nel 1930 a Palazzo Castellani, uno degli edifici più antichi della città, sia immagini degli allestimenti storici che evidenziano il successo della riprogettazione del museo.

Il primo piano conserva i primi oggetti collezionati dalla famiglia Medici ed è diviso tematicamente. Il primo ambiente, che comprende sia un ritratto tradizionale di Ferdinando II (1610-1670) con in mano un compasso mentre misura disegni architettonici, nonché un curioso ritratto anamorfico di produzione francese, è stato arredato con parati damascati gialli alle pareti che richiamano alla mente gli ambienti principeschi nei quali gli strumenti sarebbero stati originariamente esposti. Include anche un video didattico, un dispositivo educativo aggiuntivo utilizzato in tutto il museo in diverse postazioni, che contribuisce ad illustrare la funzione di un astrolabio, uno strumento impiegato da astronomi e navigatori per determinare la latitudine sulla terra e sul mare. Sarebbe stato utilizzato per misurare anche il tempo, e per aiutare la navigazione, che era fondamentale per l’espansione e l’esplorazione del mondo conosciuto.

L’allestimento conduce i visitatori attraverso una sala dedicata ai globi terrestri e celesti: il pezzo di punta della collezione è un modello tolemaico dell’universo creato dal cosmografo Antonio Santucci (?-1613) per Ferdinando I de’ Medici (1549-1609) per essere ospitato nella Stanza della cosmografia agli Uffizi. Lo schema decorativo della sala, uno spazio rivestito in legno scuro, crea un effetto d’atmosfera che richiama la Guardaroba Nuova degli Uffizi commissionata da Cosimo I, dipinta con mappe dettagliate e concepita per ospitare simili globi che rappresentano simbolicamente il dominio dell’intelletto sul mondo conosciuto.

L’importanza della conoscenza geografica è sottolineata nelle due sale successive dedicate agli strumenti utilizzati nella navigazione e nelle campagne militari. I testi sulle pareti, esposti in tutto il museo per chi non utilizza l’applicazione, spiegano le ambizioni espansionistiche dei Medici sia in Toscana che nel Nuovo Mondo.

Un altro aspetto chiave del museo è una sala dedicata all’omonimo e celebre astronomo Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Sono qui riuniti insieme oggetti storici, tra cui una lente incorniciata utilizzata dallo stesso Galileo e curiosamente una sorta di reliquiario con il dito di Galileo, riproduzioni di diversi strumenti e video che permettono di capire come gli oggetti funzionassero e come la tecnologia sarebbe stata applicata contemporaneamente per la loro produzione.

Il secondo piano è dedicato al collezionismo della dinastia dei Lorena e presenta una serie di modelli medici in cera provenienti da La Specola, dove gli strumenti scientifici sono stati ospitati dopo la sua fondazione come Reale Museo di fisica e storia naturale nel 1775. Questo piano contiene anche i giganteschi modelli elettrici sperimentali utilizzati sia per scoperte scientifiche che per destare stupore e intrattenimento nella corte del XVIII secolo.

Prima di lasciare il museo, è presente uno spazio dedicato ai modelli interattivi, popolari tra i bambini e gli adulti, in cui le riproduzioni degli oggetti esposti nel museo possono essere utilizzate dai visitatori per comprendere ulteriormente la funzione di alcuni degli strumenti.

Il museo Galileo non solo ospita oggetti storici fondamentali per lo sviluppo della tecnologia scientifica nel mondo occidentale, ma crea uno spazio interattivo che consente ai visitatori di capire profondamente la loro funzione e il loro significato. La sua applicazione, i video descrittivi e i pannelli esplicativi raccontano la storia della scienza in Toscana e oltre, offrendo un’esperienza interattiva e accessibile ai visitatori di tutte le età.


Traduzione di Camilla Torracchi (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

Photo Courtesy Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)

The Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano

The Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano

The centuries-old history of the monumental apartments

By Camilla Torracchi (Università degli Studi di Firenze)


Not far from Florence and surrounded by the hills of Tuscany the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano, also known as Villa Ambra, stands out.

The building was initiated by Giuliano da Sangallo at the will of Lorenzo the Magnificent and is characterized by its unusual architecture which, seen from above is in the shape of an ‘H’. It consists, in fact, of two principle wings connected by an immense hall, as opposed to the more conventional, at the time, internal courtyard. Immersed in greenery, at a more elevated height than the city center, it is a testimony to the harmonious union created by man between architecture and the surrounding natural landscape, shaped through the creation of gardens and orchards rich in diverse geometrically ordered plants.

From first impact, the villa conveys the centuries old history that changed, in part, the intended floor plan in the 15th century, initially a Medicean residence, then of the Lorraine, and finally residence of Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister, and of the Savoy dynasty. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013, today it also houses the Museum of Still Life, where around two-hundred works from the Medici collections are gathered and arranged according to the development of the Medicean collection itself, from the 16th to 18th centuries. It can be visited free of charge, becoming the first museum of its kind in Italy and hosting, among others, paintings by Bartolomeo Bimbi and frames by Vittorio Crosten.

The visit begins on the ground floor, with the rooms originally designed for service functions, which correspond externally with the villa’s imposing basement. Beyond the first hall decorated in 19th century style, one enters the theater hall. The richly framed stage is visible on the wall with sumptuous decorations and a painted background, constructed in 1675 at the orders of Margherita Luisa d’Orléans, wife of Cosimo III. The billiard room follows, named for the presence of two billiard tables dating back to the time of the Savoy family, remaining the same as the era, including ceilings frescoed with cherubs and animals filling a pergola against a sky-blue background, a work of the Bolognese scenographer and painter Domenico Ferri. The last room on the ground floor is the apartment of Bianca Cappello, the second wife of Grand Duke Francesco I. Here the public has the opportunity to see the Deposition of Christ by Giorgio Vasari executed around 1561 for the villa’s chapel; also remaining onsite is the splendid Buontalenti-style fireplace and the staircase permitting access to the Grand Duke’s apartment.

The main living room is located on the first floor and named after Leo X as he was responsible for the works and decoration of this area, as can be observed by the finely crafted emblem on the ceiling recalling both the Medici family and the pontificate itself. The fresco cycle was realized by Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, and finally concluded by Alessandro Allori, prominent figures who painted scenes from ancient Rome, according to an iconographic program meant to allude to the glories of the Medici court, establishing a parallelism between the protagonists of Roman splendor and members of the Medici family.

One cannot but be awestruck by this environment, surrounded by frescos of imposing dimensions, as well as by the light that penetrates the room from two enormous windows, through which it is possible to admire the incredible panoramic Tuscan hills.

Visitors can then access the dining room with frescoed ceilings by Anton Domenico Gabbiani and the apartment of Emanuele II of Savoy, still furnished although with a limited number of items. While some of the rooms allow for free movement within the spaces, others are inaccessible, and its only possible to look from behind a red rope placed at the door, as is the case for Vittorio Emanuele II’s military camp tent or Countess Mirafiori’s room, a limit that still allows the public to understand how the villa would have appeared during the 19th century.

Finally, visitors gain access to a room housing enormous tapestries and the Della Robbia style frieze, a copy of which is exposed to the outside, below the classical tympanum placed on the façade. The visit ends just below the portico, descending from the distinctive helicoidal stairs dating back to the 19th century, and visitors are free to visit the rich surrounding gardens.

The villa can be visited free of charge and without the necessity of a reservation; every half-hour it is possible to access tours accompanied by the museum’s staff who, although not acting exactly as guides, provide necessary indications to understand the history of the building and of the various eras in which the rooms and their furnishings were realized, the majority of which in the Savoy era. The staff is very helpful in answering questions, and at complete disposal for clarifications and curiosities, making the visit both enjoyable and full of art-historical information in addition to that provided in the explanatory panels. These also act as labels for the works and furniture, since individual labels are rarely ever present, and are written in Italian, English, French and German. They are mostly small in size, thus contributing on one hand to provide the necessary information and on the other to maintain the dwelling aspect of the villa, which despite being a museum, has maintained its residential feel.

There is also a rich program of collateral events and extended opening hours that help to maintain livelihood at the villa and allow visitors a unique experience just a short distance from Florence.


(Translated by Marie-Claire Desjardin – Istituto Lorenzo De’ Medici)



La villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano

La secolare storia degli appartamenti monumentali

Di Camilla Torracchi (Università degli Studi di Firenze)


Poco distante da Firenze e immersa fra i colli della Toscana si impone la villa medicea di Poggio a Caiano conosciuta anche come villa Ambra.

L’edificio fu iniziato da Giuliano da Sangallo per volere di Lorenzo il Magnifico e si caratterizza per un’insolita architettura che vista dall’alto risulta a forma di “H”: è costituita infatti da due ali principali comunicanti fra loro da un immenso salone, invece del più consueto, all’epoca, cortile interno. Immersa fra il verde, ad una quota sopraelevata dal centro cittadino, è testimonianza dell’unione armonica creata dall’uomo fra l’architettura e la natura circostante, plasmata attraverso la creazione di giardini ed orti ricchi di piante diverse e geometricamente ordinati.

Fin dal primo impatto, la villa tradisce la secolare storia che ha mutato in parte l’impianto pensato nel XV secolo, dimora inizialmente medicea, poi lorenese, è stata infine residenza di Elisa Baciocchi, sorella di Napoleone, e della dinastia Savoia. Patrimonio dell’Unesco dal 2013, oggi è sede anche del Museo della Natura Morta dove sono raccolte circa duecento opere provenienti dalle collezioni medicee e disposte secondo lo sviluppo del collezionismo mediceo stesso, dal XVI al XVIII secolo. Visitabile gratuitamente, si attesta come il primo museo nel suo genere in Italia e ospita fra gli altri, dipinti di Bartolomeo Bimbi e cornici di Vittorio Crosten.

Il percorso inizia dal piano terra, dagli ambienti originariamente concepiti per funzioni di servizio, che corrispondono esternamente all’imponente basamento della villa. Oltre il primo salone con decorazioni ottocentesche, si accede alla sala del teatro. È visibile il palcoscenico riccamente inquadrato nella parete con decorazioni fastose e lo sfondo dipinto, fatto costruire nel 1675 da Margherita Luisa d’Orléans, moglie di Cosimo III. Segue poi la sala del biliardo, cosiddetta per la presenza di due biliardi risalenti al tempo dei Savoia, così come dell’epoca è la volta affrescata da un pergolato abitato da puttini e animali su di uno sfondo azzurro del cielo, opera dello scenografo e pittore bolognese Domenico Ferri. L’ultimo ambiente del pian terreno è l’appartamento di Bianca Cappello, seconda moglie del Granduca Francesco I. Il pubblico ha la possibilità di vedere qui la Deposizione di Cristo di Giorgio Vasari eseguita intorno al 1561 per la cappella della villa stessa; è rimasto in loco anche lo splendido camino buontalentiano e le scale che permettevano di accedere agli appartamenti del Granduca.

Al primo piano è ubicato il salone principale detto di Leone X in quanto proprio a lui si devono le riprese dei lavori e la decorazione di questo ambiente, come ben si vede dallo stemma nella volta, finemente lavorata, che richiama sia alla casata medicea che al suo pontificato stesso. Il ciclo di affreschi fu realizzato da Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio e infine concluso da Alessandro Allori, personalità di spicco che dipinsero scene dell’antica Roma, secondo un programma iconografico volto ad alludere alle glorie della corte medicea, instituendo un parallelismo fra i protagonisti dei fasti romani e i membri di casa Medici.

Non si può che rimanere colpiti da questo ambiente, circondati degli affreschi di dimensioni imponenti, nonché dalla luce che penetra nella sala dalle due enormi finestre, dalle quali è possibile ammirare l’incredibile panorama dei colli toscani.

È visitabile poi la sala da pranzo con il soffitto affrescato da Anton Domenico Gabbiani e l’appartamento di Emanuele II di Savoia, ancora arredato seppur con un limitato numero di elementi. Se in alcune stanze è consentito passeggiare e muoversi liberamente, altre sono invece inaccessibili, ed è possibile solo dare un’occhiata stando al di qua di corde rosse poste alle porte, come avviene per la camera da campo di Vittorio Emanuele II o la camera della contessa Mirafiori, limite che consente comunque al pubblico di comprendere come dovesse apparire arredata la villa nell’Ottocento.

Infine, si accede alla sala che ospita un enorme arazzo e il fregio in stile robbiano una cui copia è esposta all’esterno, al di sotto del timpano classicheggiante posto in facciata. Proprio sotto al portico termina la visita e scendendo dalle scale elicoidali distintive della villa e risalenti all’Ottocento, il visitatore è libero di poter visitare i ricchi giardini circostanti.

La villa è visitabile gratuitamente senza necessità di prenotazione; alla mezza di ogni ora è possibile accedere accompagnati dal personale del museo che, pur non svolgendo la funzione propriamente di guida, fornisce le indicazioni necessarie per poter comprendere la storia dell’edificio e le diverse epoche in cui sono stati realizzati gli ambienti e gli arredi ancora presenti all’interno, in maggioranza di epoca sabauda. Il personale è molto disponibile nel rispondere alle domande ed è a completa disposizione per chiarimenti e curiosità rendendo la visita al contempo piacevole e ricca di informazioni storico-artistiche che si sommano a quelle fornite nei pannelli esplicativi. Questi fungono anche da didascalie per le opere e la mobilia esposta, in quanto le targhette non sono quasi mai presenti, e sono scritti in lingua italiana, inglese, francese e tedesca. Sono per lo più di piccolo formato, così da contribuire da un lato a dispensare necessarie informazioni e dall’altro a mantenere l’aspetto di dimora della villa, che pur musealizzata, ha mantenuto il suo aspetto principale di residenza.

È previsto inoltre un ricco programma di eventi collaterali e aperture straordinarie che rendono ancora viva la villa e permettono di vivere un’esperienza unica a pochi passi da Firenze.


Photo Courtesy Camilla Torracchi (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

Palazzo Medici Riccardi beyond the Renaissance – The museum paths through Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Palazzo Medici Riccardi beyond the Renaissance

The museum paths through Palazzo Medici Riccardi


By Benedetta Gestri and Camilla Torracchi (Università degli studi di Firenze)

Every-day from 9:00 – 19:00 (the ticket office closes an hour prior)

Closed Wednesdays


Located in the heart of Medicean Florence, just a few steps from Santa Maria Novella station and San Lorenzo, close to Brunelleschi’s dome, stand Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in its imposing sobriety. One of the greatest examples of civil Renaissance architecture, the building was constructed at the request of Cosimo the Elder de’ Medici following a design by Michelozzo in 1444. It would play residence to Lorenzo the Magnificent eventually becoming a treasury of masterpieces by some of the most brilliant artists active in the Medici home including Donatello, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

The palace was acquired in 1659 by the Riccardi family who undertook the expansion and renovation work while respecting the centuries old history of the building by not changing its external façade. The building is still characterized today by the ashlar bricks, a material used in the homes of the most illustrious Florentine families of the fifteenth century.

One of the museum’s strong points is the wide variety of different routes proposed to the public which respond to various interests. Visitors are allowed access to the statue garden, fountains and citrus trees free of charge, as well as the fifteenth-century internal sandstone courtyard that hosts ‘exhibitions’ on its walls in the frames designed by Giovanni Battista Foggini which contain pieces of antiquities from the Riccardi collection including inscriptions and surveys.

It’s advisable to start the visit from the underground spaces that, following a campaign of archeological excavations, have recently been opened as a museum space in which the contemporary architecture and the ancient finds interact. The rooms collect two millennia of history offering the public the opportunity to interact through a display that allows visitors to discover a Florence that rarely has a chance to be seen. The itinerary then continues with the so-called Museo dei Marmi, opened in 2005, where it’s possible to admire twenty-two examples of classical antiquities form the Riccardi collection, amongst which are busts of emperors and philosophers.

Upon arriving to the first floor the visitor is immerged in the splendor of the Magi Chapel, frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli in the second half of the fifteenth-century. The walls, which are entirely painted, are decorated with the voyage of the journey of the kings towards Bethlehem, a procession crowded with figures richly dressed in brightly colored clothes among which portraits of the Medici family and a self-portrait of the painter can be found.

Whoever enters cannot help but to be struck with a sense of awe and wonder while being captivated by the infinite variety of details, the fairy-tale aura in which the ‘bourgeois’ reality of time is transposed, and the precious materials such as gold and lapis lazuli that are used throughout contributing to the atmosphere of the small but jewel like space.

Because of space limitations the capacity of the space is limited to fifteen people at a time, with a maximum visit time of fifteen minutes per group.

The route continues in successive rooms with seventeenth and eighteenth-century works of art and tapestries that are displayed based of a criterion of rarefaction, particularly the portraits of the Medici family which are concentrated in rooms VII, VIII, and IX, the last of which allows the possibility to admire the celebrated Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi.

The visit concludes with the evocative Gallery, decorated by Luca Giordano, commissioned by the Riccardi family in 1685. The painter created the Apotheosis of the Medici Dynasty, a complex cycle of frescoes that represents a virtuous path of humanity towards various allegorical figures and in the center the celebration of the Medici house. The gallery was conceived as a representative space, but also as a space to conserve precious objects of small dimensions in cabinets arranged along the right wall, alternated with mirrors painted with cherubs, floral, and animal subjects realized by Anton Domenico Gabbiani, Bartolomeo Bimbi and Pandolfo Reschi.

Compared to the sobriety of the previous rooms, the public will be surprised to find themselves immersed in of the greatest masterpieces of the Baroque period, overwhelmed by the dense and sumptuous decoration which is enriched by stuccoes designed by Foggini. The room is a real delight, which at times suffers from access restrictions as it is also used for conferences and conventions.

If on one hand the visitor can ideally retrace the history of the building through testimonies from different eras, on the other they need a guide to accompany them the journey given the limited art historical information made available by the museum. The public can be overwhelmed by the beauty of some of the rooms, without sufficient tools to understand and contextualize what they are seeing. In fact, the explanatory panels, in both Italian and English, are not present in all of the rooms and only offer a general panorama without providing details about the works on display, often displayed without labels. For a non-expert public, it is therefore advisable to book a guided tour by contacting the museum of by going to the recently renovated ticket office, to fully enjoy the works of some of the most significant personalities of Renaissance Florence and beyond.


Translated by Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)





Palazzo Medici Riccardi oltre il Rinascimento

I percorsi museali di Palazzo Medici Riccardi


Di Benedetta Gestri e Camilla Torracchi (Università degli studi di Firenze)

Tutti i giorni: 9:00- 19:00 (la biglietteria chiude un’ora prima)

Chiuso il mercoledì


Ubicato nel cuore della Firenze medicea a pochi passi dalla Stazione di Santa Maria Novella e da San Lorenzo, vicino alla Cupola del Brunelleschi si erge nella sua imponente sobrietà Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Uno dei massimi esempi dell’architettura civile rinascimentale, l’edificio venne costruito per volere di Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici su progetto di Michelozzo nel 1444, dimora poi di Lorenzo il Magnifico e scrigno dei capolavori di alcuni dei più geniali artisti attivi per la casata medicea quali Donatello, Botticelli e Michelangelo.

Il palazzo venne acquistato nel 1659 dai Riccardi che intrapresero lavori di ampliamento e rinnovamento rispettando però la secolare storia dell’edificio, tanto da non modificare affatto il suo aspetto esterno. La dimora ancora oggi si caratterizza infatti per il bugnato, materiale impiegato nelle abitazioni delle più illustri famiglie fiorentine del Quattrocento.

Un punto di forza del Museo è l’ampia offerta proposta al pubblico che può fruire di percorsi museali diversi, in grado di rispondere a svariati interessi. Si può accedere gratuitamente sia al giardino con statue, fontane e piante di agrumi, sia al quattrocentesco cortile interno in pietra serena sulle cui pareti si ritrovano ‘mostre’, sorte di cornici ideate da Giovanni Battista Foggini che racchiudono pezzi della collezione di antichità dei Riccardi, come iscrizioni e rilievi.

È consigliabile iniziare la visita dagli ambienti sotterranei che, a seguito di una campagna di scavi archeologici, sono stati adibiti recentemente a spazio museale in cui dialogano architettura contemporanea e antichissimi reperti. Le sale raccolgono due millenni di storia e coinvolgono il pubblico in attività interattive attraverso display che permettono di scoprire una Firenze che raramente si ha occasione di conoscere. Il percorso prosegue poi con il cosiddetto Museo dei Marmi, inaugurato nel 2005, dove è possibile ammirare ventidue pezzi della collezione di antichità classiche dei Riccardi, tra cui busti di imperatori e filosofi.

Salendo al primo piano del palazzo il visitatore si immerge nello splendore della Cappella dei Magi affrescata da Benozzo Gozzoli nella seconda metà del XV secolo. Sulle pareti interamente dipinte si svolge il Viaggio de Magi verso Betlemme, un corteo affollato di figure riccamente vestite con abiti dai colori vivaci fra le quali è possibile scorgere ritratti dei membri della casata medicea e un autoritratto dello stesso pittore.

Chi vi entra non può che rimanere pervaso da un senso di stupore e meraviglia rapito dall’infinita varietà di dettagli, dall’aurea fiabesca in cui è trasposta la realtà “borghese” dell’epoca e dalla preziosità dei materiali impiegati come oro e lapislazzuli, tutte qualità che contribuiscono a rendere questo ambiente un piccolo ma grande gioiello.

Per l’esiguo spazio, la capienza della Cappella è di quindici persone per volta, per un massimo di quindici minuti per visita.

Il percorso si svolge poi in diverse sale in successione con opere d’arte e arazzi Sei e Settecenteschi esposti secondo un criterio di rarefazione, in particolare ritratti della famiglia Medici concentrati nelle sale VII, VIII e IX e in quest’ultima è possibile ammirare anche la celebre Madonna con Bambino di Filippo Lippi.

La visita si conclude con la suggestiva Galleria, la cui volta fu decorata da Luca Giordano, su incarico dei Riccardi, nel 1685. Il pittore realizzò l’Apotesi della dinastia dei Medici, un complesso ciclo di affreschi che presenta ai lati un cammino virtuoso dell’umanità attraverso diverse figure allegoriche e al centro la celebrazione della casata medicea. La Galleria fu concepita come ambiente di rappresentanza, ma anche come luogo in cui conservare oggetti preziosi di piccole dimensioni in armadi disposti lungo la parete destra, alternati da specchi dipinti con puttini, soggetti floreali e animali realizzati da Anton Domenico Gabbiani, Bartolomeo Bimbi e Pandolfo Reschi.

Rispetto alla sobrietà degli ambienti precedenti, il pubblico con sorpresa si trova immerso in uno dei massimi capolavori del barocco, sopraffatto dalla decorazione fitta e fastosa arricchita da stucchi ideati da Foggini. Una vera delizia, che tuttavia a volte subisce delle limitazioni di accesso poiché la sala viene utilizzata anche per congressi e convegni.

Se da una parte il visitatore può idealmente ripercorrere la storia del palazzo attraverso testimonianze di epoche diverse, dall’altra necessita di una guida che l’accompagni in questo viaggio vista l’esiguità delle informazioni storico-artistiche messe a disposizione dal museo. Il pubblico resta sopraffatto dalla bellezza di alcuni ambienti, senza che gli siano forniti strumenti sufficienti per comprendere e contestualizzare ciò che sta ammirando. I pannelli esplicativi infatti, in italiano e inglese, non sono presenti in tutte le sale e offrono solo una panoramica generale senza fornire dettagli sulle opere esposte, spesso prive di targhetta. Per un pubblico non esperto è quindi consigliabile prenotare visite guidate, contattando il Museo o recandosi alla biglietteria recentemente rinnovata, per poter godere a pieno delle opere di alcune delle personalità più significative della Firenze del Rinascimento e oltre.



Photo Courtesy Camilla Torracchi (Università di Firenze)


Traces of Florence: Remembering Firenze com’era

Traces of Florence: Remembering Firenze com’era

By Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Palazzo Vecchio

From April to September:
Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun 9 a. m. – 9 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Entry: Free


Over the centuries since its foundation the city of Florence has undergone many transformations to its urban infrastructure, some of which are documented in Traces of Florence, a small free museum on the ground floor of Palazzo Vecchio. Founded during the reconstructive projects of the 19th century which saw the destruction of a number of ancient buildings, the museum has changed its name and location over the successive decades before settling in one of Florence’s most symbolically representative civic buildings.

Since reopening in 2012, the museum has offered visitors glimpses into Florence’s architectural and atmospheric history with a series of engravings, paintings, photographs, drawings, and multimedia displays that illustrate the city’s urban development from the late Middle Ages until the 20th century.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are invited to follow a counter clock-wise chronological path that begins, appropriately, with three enormous sets of keys that were used over centuries to open and close the city’s gates. Although the exact number of variations in their construction is debated, the walls have been rebuilt and fortified to accommodate city’s population several times since the Roman Empire, until being almost completely destroyed during the 19th century. However, the towering gates through which visitors and citizens have passed since the late 13th century can still be observed around the city. The keys preserved in the museum, those of Porta San Gallo, Porta Romana, and Porta San Frediano, provide a reminder of the fortified protective enclosure traditionally thought to have been designed by Arnolfo di Cambio.

Following the museum’s narrative path, visitors can observe an oversized 19th century reproduction by Francesco and Raffaello Petrini of the Chain View, one of the most recognizable pictorial representations of Renaissance era Florence. The mural painting is accompanied by an interactive display reproducing the map. Using a touch-screen visitors gain to access brief historical descriptions of important monuments around the city. The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore and the soaring tower of Palazzo Vecchio are easily recognizable, but the reconstruction and expansion of some of the still extant landmarks can be observed and understood thanks to this additional element of display. Some of the most notable changes can be found in the buildings associated with the Medici family. The 15th century map predated the establishment of the duchy and notably absent is the Fortezza da Basso, Forte Belvedere, and the expansion project of Palazzo Pitti once purchased by Cosimo I and Eleonora de Toledo. The additional interactive element creates a richer historical experience of the pictorial display by guiding viewers through significant changes to the historic city center. Displayed to the left of the painting is an engraving of Stefano Bonsignori’s 1598 topographic map, observed from the same point as the earlier painting but from a higher elevation. Although the close proximity of the two representations allows a direct comparison between the 15th and 16th century cityscapes, combining illustrations from both maps on the touch screen would create a more comprehensive technological description for viewers.

The narrative continues with a selection of 17th, 18th and 19th century engravings and paintings illustrating the city’s most celebrated architecture, buildings that were lost to modernization, and elements of daily life that provide a window into the more recent past. Among these are a series of small paintings by Augusto Marriani dating from 1885-1891 preserving views of the winding alley-ways of the ‘old center’, a space now occupied by Piazza della Repubblica. By the late 16th century the ‘old-market’, built on the city’s Roman forum, had been occupied by the city’s less fortunate and would eventually be closed by Duke Cosimo I to be used as a Ghetto. The area would be redeveloped in the 19th century to make way for the grand square we see today, and the paintings serve as a reminder of the lost characteristic neighborhood.

Additionally, the museum houses a small space dedicated to temporary exhibitions. Currently on display are a series of works created for the Wagon of St. John the Baptist which would be paraded around the city to celebrate the saint’s name day on June 24th. The exhibition included a series of 13 decorative panel paintings by Jacopo Pontormo and a number of sculptures used to decorate the wagon until its use was discontinued between 1808-1810.

Despite its small stature, traces of Florence allows visitors the opportunity to revisit glimpses of the city’s lost urban landscape preserving the memory of its development over the last 500 years. The museum’s rich collection creates an engaging narrative that could be expanded upon by drawing from their vast storage if only space would allow.




Tracce di Firenze: ricordando Firenze com’era

di Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Palazzo Vecchio

Da Aprile a Settembre

Lunedì-Domenica: 9:00-21:00

Giovedì: 9:00-14:00

Ingresso gratuito


Nel corso dei secoli, a partire dalla sua fondazione, la città di Firenze ha subìto molte trasformazioni nel suo assetto urbano, alcune delle quali sono documentate in Tracce di Firenze, un piccolo museo indipendente al piano terra di Palazzo Vecchio. Fondato durante i progetti di ricostruzione del XIX secolo che videro la distruzione di un certo numero di edifici, il museo ha cambiato nome e sede nei decenni successi, prima di stabilirsi in uno dei più simbolici e rappresentativi palazzi di Firenze.

Dal momento della riapertura nel 2012, il museo ha offerto ai visitatori scorci della storia architettonica e dell’atmosfera di Firenze con una serie di incisioni, dipinti, fotografie, disegni e materiali multimediali che illustrano lo sviluppo urbano della città dal tardo Medioevo fino al XX secolo.

Entrando nel Museo, i visitatori sono invitati a seguire un percorso cronologico in senso antiorario che inizia, in modo appropriato, con tre enormi paia di chiavi che sono state utilizzate nel corso dei secoli per aprire e chiudere le porte della città. Anche se il numero esatto di ricostruzioni è dibattuto, le mura sono state riedificate e fortificate più volte per ospitare la popolazione della città dal periodo dell’Impero Romano, fino ad essere quasi completamente distrutte nel corso del XIX secolo. Tuttavia, le imponenti porte attraverso le quali i visitatori e i cittadini sono passati dalla fine del XIII secolo possono ancora essere osservate intorno alla città. Le chiavi conservate nel museo, quelle di Porta San Gallo, di Porta Romana e di Porta San Frediano, forniscono una testimonianza della cerchia muraria e fortificata tradizionalmente attribuita ad Arnolfo di Cambio.

Seguendo il percorso narrativo del museo, i visitatori possono osservare una grande riproduzione del XIX secolo di Francesco e Raffaello Petrini della Carta della Catena, una delle rappresentazioni pittoriche più riconoscibili dell’epoca rinascimentale di Firenze.

La pittura parietale è accompagnata da un display interattivo che riproduce la mappa. Utilizzando uno schermo touch-screen i visitatori possono accedere a brevi descrizioni storiche di importanti monumenti sparsi per la città. La cupola di Santa Maria del Fiore e l’alta Torre di Palazzo Vecchio sono facilmente riconoscibili, ma la ricostruzione e l’ampliamento di alcuni dei monumenti ancora oggi esistenti possono essere osservati e compresi grazie a questo ulteriore elemento di esposizione. Alcuni dei cambiamenti più notevoli si possono trovare negli edifici associati alla famiglia Medici. La mappa del XV secolo precede l’insediamento del Ducato e in particolare è assente la Fortezza da Basso, Forte Belvedere, e il progetto di ampliamento di Palazzo Pitti una volta acquistato da Cosimo I e Eleonora di Toledo. La possibilità di utilizzare il display interattivo offre un’esperienza storica più ricca del materiale pittorico, guidando gli spettatori attraverso i cambiamenti significativi del centro storico della città. Esposto a sinistra del dipinto si trova un’incisione della mappa topografica del 1598 di Stefano Bonsignori, colta dallo stesso punto di osservazione del dipinto precedente, ma da una prospettiva più elevata.

Anche se la vicinanza delle due rappresentazioni permette un confronto diretto tra i paesaggi urbani del XV e XVI secolo, unire le illustrazioni di entrambe le mappe sullo schermo touch-screen creerebbe una descrizione tecnologica più completa per gli spettatori.

La narrazione prosegue con una selezione di incisioni e dipinti del XVII, XVIII e XIX secolo che illustrano l’architettura più celebre della città, edifici che si sono persi a causa di ammodernamenti, ed elementi di vita quotidiana che offrono una finestra nel passato più recente. Tra queste vi sono una serie di piccoli dipinti di Augusto Marriani risalenti al 1885-1891 che conservano la vista dei tortuosi vicoli del ‘vecchio centro’, uno spazio ora occupato da Piazza della Repubblica. Alla fine del XVI secolo il ‘mercato vecchio’, costruito sul foro romano della città, era stato occupato dalla popolazione meno abbiente e alla fine sarebbe stato chiuso dal duca Cosimo I per essere utilizzato come Ghetto. L’area sarebbe stata poi ripensata nel XIX secolo per far spazio alla grande piazza che vediamo oggi, e i dipinti servono proprio come promemoria del caratteristico quartiere perduto.

Inoltre, il museo ospita anche un piccolo spazio dedicato alle mostre temporanee. Attualmente sono in mostra una serie di opere realizzate per il carro di San Giovanni Battista che veniva fatto sfilare in giro per la città per celebrare il giorno del Santo Patrono il 24 giugno. La mostra comprende una serie di 13 pannelli decorativi dipinti da Jacopo da Pontormo e un certo numero di sculture utilizzate per decorare il carro fino a quando il suo utilizzo fu interrotto tra 1808-1810.

Nonostante le dimensioni contenute, Tracce di Firenze permette al pubblico di rivisitare scorci del paesaggio urbano perduto della città preservando la memoria del suo sviluppo negli ultimi 500 anni. La ricca collezione del museo crea una narrazione coinvolgente che potrebbe essere ampliata attingendo dal suo vasto archivio se solo lo spazio lo permettesse.



Translated by Camilla Torracchi (Università di Firenze)


Photo Courtesy Marie-Claire Desjardin (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)

Museo Stibbert – A journey into the world of an avid collector

Museo Stibbert

A journey into the world of an avid collector

By Maire-Claire Desjardin (Instituto Lorenzo de’ Medici)


Monday-Wednesday: 10:00-14:00 (ticket office closes at 13:00)

Friday-Sunday: 10:00-18:00 (ticket office closes at 17:00)

Full price ticket: € 8,00

Reduced rate: € 6,00

Tucked away on a scenic hillside just outside of the city center, easily accessible by tram, the Stibbert Museum houses an enormous collection armor and art amassed by Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906) a wealthy Anglo-Italian aristocrat. Separating the museum, born through Stibbert’s passion for antiquities, from the founder is a seemingly impossible task due in part to its being held inside of his former private residence. Donated to the city of Florence after his death, the Stibbert Museum was opened to the public in 1909. The museum itself is a spectacular journey through various eras and geographical locales, Stibbert’s personal taste and method of display is omnipresent in the space adding to its characteristic appeal. Many of the original installations chosen by the founder remain, inspired by paintings and frescoes, acting to maintain the historic 19th century aesthetic decided by its founder.

Because of the open nature of the arrangements, and vastness of the collection, visitors are required to be accompanied throughout the space. This is possible for the duration of museum opening hours and is done at the top of the hour for groups of up to 25 people per visit. The tour requires approximately an hour and a half, and although not guided, the knowledgeable staff point out details of the collection, and about the collector, that could otherwise be easily missed without this service.

The itinerary is not presented in a strictly chronological order, but rather through geographical and atmospheric groupings. The visit begins in what is essentially a painting gallery but adds the intriguing element of a wide variety of European parade armor displayed on mannequins at eye level throughout the space. The paintings, at times originals by European masters such as Alessandro Allori and Justus Sustermans, and others later copies, help to illustrate various civilian and military fashions mainly from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Continuing through the museum itinerary visitors are guided into a smaller room boasting the oldest elements of the collection. Two Egyptian sarcophagi are displayed in a space custom built to house them, and among the seemingly endless variety of small metal military accessories are examples from the Etruscan and Roman Imperial periods. It is in this room that visitors are first presented to the eccentric display choices of the collector himself: a life-sized model of horse and rider, emulating John Hawkwood’s tomb in Santa Maria del Fiore. The use of mannequins and models continues throughout many of the museum’s spaces allowing for the armor and dressage accessories to be displayed three-dimensionally and creating an imposing visual effect.

Visitors are then guided through two rooms dedicated to Middle Eastern Armory containing examples of military and civilian wear from the diverse and far-reaching Turkish, Persian, Moghul and Sindhi dynasties. These are displayed together in a fantastical room designed by Stibbert himself and inspired by the intricate interior decorations of Alhambra. Included in this section of the museum is an interactive didactic installation where visitors are invited to try on replica helmets and chain-mail.

The second floor contains the largest collection of Japanese armor outside of Japan with examples of swords, armor, textiles and costumes spanning from the Momoyama to Edo periods 1568-1868). Although Stibbert never visited himself, he was inspired to create the space after visiting an international exhibition in the late 1870s.

The enormous museum space continues through the private residence where visitors are able to view luxurious contemporary features of the building and Stibbert’s own comparatively modest room. Parts of the space have been utilized to display European garments, perhaps most notably the ‘petit costume’ made for Napoleon’s coronation as king of Italy.

The museum concludes with a temporary exhibition space included in the price of entry. Currently visitors are invited to further contemplate Stibbert’s multifaceted personality with the exhibition Artist and Collector, open until September 1st. Lesser known contemporary elements of his enormous collection are displayed with his own paintings creating a dialogue between collector as artist and popular painters of 19th century. Visitors are introduced to the young Stibbert and his pictorial training through a series of genre paintings, historical subjects, and romantic views that previously decorated the private rooms of the villa. The most celebrated of Stibbert’s works displayed in the exhibition include a series of illustrations for his book of military and civilian costumes that would be published after his death.

The Stibbert Museum offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in centuries of history through the unparalleled collection of armor, costumes, art, and interior decoration. The fantastical display works to captivate audiences of all ages and gives insight into the mind of an eccentric 19th century collector. Through the museum we are able to visit a wide variety of eras and locations, no passport required.

Museo Stibbert

Un viaggio nel mondo di un insaziabile collezionista

Di Marie-Claire Desjardin (Instituto Lorenzo de’Medici)


Lunedì-Mercoledì: 10:00-14:00 (la biglietteria chiude alle ore 13:00)

Venerdì-Domenica: 10:00-18:00 (la biglietteria chiude alle ore 17:00)

Biglietto intero: € 8,00

Biglietto ridotto: € 6,00

Nascosto su una collina panoramica appena fuori dal centro della città, facilmente raggiungibile con l’autobus, il Museo Stibbert ospita un’imponente collezione di armature e opere d’arte raccolta da Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906), un ricco aristocratico anglo-italiano. Scindere il museo, nato dalla passione di Stibbert per le antichità, dal suo fondatore è un compito apparentemente impossibile dovuto in parte al fatto che ha sede all’interno della sua antica residenza privata. Donato alla città di Firenze a seguito della sua morte, il museo Stibbert è stato aperto al pubblico nel 1909. Il museo stesso è un viaggio spettacolare attraverso epoche e luoghi diversi, il gusto personale di Stibbert e la sua metodologia allestitiva sono onnipresenti all’interno degli ambienti arricchiti dal suo fascino caratteristico. Molte delle originarie installazioni scelte dal fondatore sono ancora presenti, ispirate da dipinti e affreschi, che contribuiscono a mantenere l’aspetto storico del XIX secolo voluto da Stibbert.

Per la natura aperta della disposizione degli oggetti, e la vastità della collezione, è necessario che i visitatori siano accompagnati in tutto il percorso. Questo è possibile nell’orario di apertura del museo e si ripete all’inizio di ogni ora per gruppi fino a 25 persone massimo per ogni visita. Il tour richiede circa un’ora e mezza di tempo e, anche se non guidato, prevede informazioni fornite dal personale esperto, in merito al collezionista e ai dettagli della collezione che altrimenti potrebbero passare facilmente inosservati senza questo servizio.

L’itinerario non è presentato in ordine strettamente cronologico, bensì attraverso ordinamenti geografici e di atmosfera. La visita inizia in quella che è essenzialmente una galleria di dipinti, ma con l’elemento intrigante di una grande varietà di armature da parata europee esposte su manichini ad altezza occhi in tutto lo spazio. I dipinti, alcuni originali di maestri europei come Alessandro Allori e Justus Sustermans, e altre copie successive, contribuiscono ad illustrare le diverse mode civili e militari principalmente dal XVI al XVIII secolo.

Proseguendo attraverso il percorso museale, i visitatori sono guidati in una stanza più piccola che vanta gli elementi più antichi della collezione. Due sarcofagi egiziani sono esposti in uno spazio costruito appositamente per ospitarli, e tra la varietà, apparentemente infinita, di piccoli accessori militari metallici si trovano esempi risalenti al periodo etrusco e dell’Impero Romano. È in questa sala che i visitatori sono introdotti per la prima volta alle eccentriche scelte allestitive del collezionista stesso: un modello a grandezza naturale di cavallo e cavaliere che emula la tomba di Giovanni Acuto in Santa Maria del Fiore. L’uso di manichini e modelli si ritrova in molti ambienti del museo e permette di disporre le armature e gli elementi da indossare tridimensionalmente creando un effetto visivo grandioso.

Il pubblico è poi accompagnato in due sale dedicate all’armeria mediorientale che ospitano esempi di abbigliamento militare e civile proveniente da diverse e lontane dinastie turche, persiane, Moghul e Sindhi. Queste sono esposte insieme in un’incredibile sala progettata dallo stesso Stibbert e ispirata alle intricate decorazioni interne dell’Alhambra. Inclusa in questa sezione del Museo è un’installazione didattica interattiva in cui i visitatori sono invitati a provare riproduzioni di elmi e cotte di maglia.

Il secondo piano accoglie la più grande collezione di armature giapponesi al di fuori del Giappone con esempi di spade, armature, tessuti e costumi che spaziano dal periodo Momoyama al periodo Edo (1568-1868). Sebbene Stibbert non vi sia mai stato, per creare l’ambiente ha preso ispirazione dopo aver visitato una mostra internazionale alla fine degli anni 70 del XIX secolo.

Il grande spazio museale prosegue attraverso la residenza privata dove i visitatori possono vedere le lussuose caratteristiche contemporanee dell’edificio e la stanza privata, relativamente modesta, di Stibbert. Una parte degli ambienti è stata utilizzata per esporre capi europei, e forse il più notevole fra questi è il ‘petit costume’ realizzato per l’incoronazione di Napoleone a re d’Italia.

Il museo termina con uno spazio espositivo temporaneo incluso nel prezzo d’ingresso. Attualmente i visitatori sono invitati a contemplare ulteriormente la personalità poliedrica di Stibbert con la mostra Artist and Collector, aperta fino al primo settembre. Elementi contemporanei meno conosciuti della sua ricca collezione sono esposti insieme ai dipinti da lui realizzati, creando un dialogo tra il collezionista nella sua veste di artista e pittori famosi del XIX secolo. I visitatori sono introdotti al giovane Stibbert e alla sua formazione pittorica attraverso una serie di dipinti di genere, soggetti storici e vedute romantiche che in precedenza decoravano le stanze private della villa. Fra le più celebri opere di Stibbert esposte in mostra vi è una serie di illustrazioni per il suo libro di costumi militari e civili, che fu pubblicato postumo.

Il Museo Stibbert offre al pubblico la possibilità di immergersi in secoli di storia attraverso l’impareggiabile collezione di armature, costumi, opere d’arte e decorazioni d’interni. L’allestimento scenografico funziona per catturare il pubblico di tutte le età e offre una visione della mente di un eccentrico collezionista del XIX secolo. Attraverso il museo siamo in grado di visitare una gran varietà di epoche e luoghi, e nessun passaporto è richiesto.


Traduzione di Camilla Torracchi, Università di Firenze

Photo courtesy Marie-Claire Desjardin