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In the heart of Florence, a few steps from the Cathedral square, one of the most beautiful palaces of Florence bears witness to the city's glorious past: it is Palazzo Medici Riccardi.


Scala Tacca 2 brFirst of all, why the double name? Who were the Riccardi? While everyone knows the Medici, the same cannot be said for the Riccardi: dignitaries of the Medici court, they bought the palace from the Grand Duke Ferdinando II de'Medici in 1659, enlarging it and calling great artists such as Luca Giordano to decorate it and changing the interiors according to the taste of the era.
Walking in the courtyard and in the garden is like a blast from the past, when the Medici had their bank there and received distinguished visitors who were dazzled by the sight of the magnificent Chapel of the Magi, frescoed in the fifteenth century by Benozzo Gozzoli.

In what was the first home of the Medici and the prototype of Florentine Renaissance palaces, there are high quality works of art to be found like the renowned Madonna with Child by Filippo Lippi or the frescoes in the Luca Giordano Hall, just to mention the most famous ones.

But the visit of the palace holds pleasant surprises for the more discerning tourist too: the wonderful collection of Roman heads that belonged to the Riccardi is displayed in the basement, in the Marble Museum. An array of sculptures ranging from the wonderful Riccardi Athlete, derived from a Greek original of the fifth century BC, to the portrait of a child of the third century BC. The exhibit continues with many more sculptures of the classical period, portraying emperors, athletes, philosophers and poets, that were collected by the Riccardi during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Furthermore, in the wondrous fifteenth-century courtyard by Michelozzo, the slinky spiral staircase designed by Ferdinando Tacca in the seventeenth century has recently been made visible again. The elliptical staircase was part of the project for the palace's enlargement and adaptation to the splendour of the age, following its purchase by the Riccardi; starting from the south east side of the courtyard the staircase leads to the upper floors, up to the roof.

One last peculiar piece of news: the press office of the Città Metropolitana di Firenze, current owner of the palace, is producing a series of videos on fun facts and small Florentine mysteries, taking its cues right from the history and the records of Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The videos on the "wine windows" and the bust of Lorenzo Il Magnfico are already available on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

Published: 15/2/2018

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