Saturday I took a tour with Florencepass and discovered more of my beloved Florence, the Medici family and the commesso fiorentino. Thanks to the tour I visited the Medici Chapels and an original artisan workshop.
The Medici Chapels
The Medici Chapels are generally off the main tourist paths, event though they’re a unique museum located in the San Lorenzo borough few steps from the Duomo. They were built to celebrate the Medici family, patrons of the Church of San Lorenzo and Grand Dukes of Tuscany. As a matter of fact in crypt at the entrance you can see the tombs of the family members. The construction of this monumental architecture dates back to 16th century and great masters as Michelangelo worked at it. It’s divided into two parts: the Sagrestia Nuova and the Cappella dei Principi.
The Sagrestia Nuova was intended by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici and his cousin Pope Leo X as a mortuary chapel for members of the Medici family. Here you can admire the genius of Michelangelo, who projected and realized the structure and the beautiful statues of Night and Day and the Dusk and Dawn. Actually Michelangelo never really finished his work and you can see clearly in his unfinished statues.
The Cappella dei Principi is really unique. It’s covered by precious hard stones, marbles and commesso fiorentino. It was the result of collaboration among designers and patrons, following the original idea of Cosimo I. To built this opulent building, it was established the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a specialized Grand Ducal workshop. The chapel is surmounted by a tall dome, that you can clearly distinguish in Florence skyline.
The commesso fiorentino
The commesso fiorentino is an antique art of assembled jig-sawn fragments of specimen stones to form the designs of the revetment that entirely cover the walls. Sometimes we call it hard-stone mosaic, even though it’s not completely correct.
The peculiarity of this art is to create a picture cutting the pieces out from hard stone, that are as the colors for the painters. As a matter of the good result depends on the shades of stones and the virtuosity of the artist.
In addition to visit the Opificio delle Pietre Dure you can still few artisans at work in Florence. One of them is the Bottega of Lastrucci in Santa Croce. This is the third generation making commesso and the workshop is full of thousands of hard and semi-precious stones, most of them found directly by them. Every work is unique and requires quite some time (about 2-3 months for small mosaics). Since it’s really hard to describe it in words I recommend you visit it, since they’ve also got a small museums of commesso fiorentino where I got stunned from the beauty of this art.
As the name says this Florentine tour operator is the perfect pass to Florence, especially if you really want to get the best out of your visit. Florencepass offers a large selection of Florence guided tours both for “beginners” and “advance users”. Some of their guided tours are to Uffizi and Vasari Corridor, Duomo and Giotto’s Bell Tower, walking tour trough Florence monuments and of course unconventional tours such as the one I did that is called “Florence and the artisans: discovering commesso fiorentino“.
Of course tours are in different languages. I had the chance to meet Maurizio, owner and guide and I can tell you that he really knows the city and its secrets, as well as he really loves his job and I loved it 🙂