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Northern Florence-Basilica di San Lorenzo, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Cappelle Medicee and Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

San Lorenzo was the Medici’s neighbourhood and is where their palazzo, church, library and mausoleum can be found. No doubt with all the splendour they favoured for so long. 
The 15th century Basilica di San Lorenzo (Picture 1) was reconstructed on the site of the 4th century original basilica. Brunelleschi was the brain behind the project. The building was created according to the Renaissance style to later become the worshipping and resting place of most of the Medici family. (Piazza San Lorenzo; open 10am-5pm Mon-Sat, 1.30-5pm Sun). The basilica’s façade designed by Michelangelo in Carrara marble was never finished.
Inside there are pietra serena columns topped off with Corinthian capitals which divide the nave and aisles. The sculpted pulpits in bronze embellished with panels of the crucifixion were made by Donatello who passed away when he was still working on the project. His tomb is in the chapel where the Annunciation by Fra’ Filippo Lippi hangs. The ancient sacristy was planned by Brunelleschi but mostly decorated by Donatello.


From the cloisters sitting to the left of the basilica, Michelangelo’s steps connect to the marvellous Biblioteca Laurenziana Medicea (tel. 055 21 15 90; www.bml.firenze.sbn.it;  Piazza San Lorenzo; open 9.30am-1pm, closed Sat). The idea of creating the library was that it would become Clement VII’ s room to keep a collection that Cosimo the Elder had already started to establish.
The steps and vestibule by Michelangelo are attractive pieces created in pietra serena. A shift from strict Renaissance style can be seen in the curved staircase which are closer to Mannerism in style.


All the glory of the Medici family is shown in their mausoleum (tel. 055 238 86 02; Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini; open 8.15am-4.50pm Tue-Sat ; 1st and 3rd Sun and 2nd and 4th Mon each month) It is a display of granite, the best quality marble, semiprecious stones, and Michelangelo’s sculptures. 49 Medici members are buried here. Francesco I, Ferdinando I, Ferdinando II and CosimoI, II and III are in the Princes’ chapel, while Lorenzo il Magnifico, Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino and his son Giuliano are in the New Sacristy (Picture 3). The embellishment of this sacristy was the first architectural commission given to Michelangelo. His captivating sculptures Dawn and Dusk, Night and Day, Madonna and Child embellish the different tombs.


The Palazzo Medici–Riccardi was commissioned by Cosimo the Elder to Michelozzo. (tel. 055 276 03 40; www.palazzo-medici.it; Via Cavour 3; open 9am- 7pm, closed Wed). This residence, planned to be the family home, became a model for other palaces built later on such as Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Strozzi.
Cosimo the Elder did not commission a fortified palace for he believed the power of the Medici was strong enough not to require it. Therefore, the building was simply built in a strong square shape. The ground floor facade has a stern appearance but the first and second floor belong to the classical style typical of the transition to the Renaissance. In 1540 when the Riccardi moved into the residence, the palace was luxuriously decorated and the Sala Luca Giordano added. His Allegory of Divine Wisdom in baroque style is an explosion of colour and gold. At present the Provincial Authority Offices are in charge of the palazzo  which also plays host to many temporary exhibitions in rooms available to public.
Undoubtedly the most mesmerizing attraction in the palazzo is its Chapel of the Magi where you will find the best renaissance painting. The chapel ‘s frescoes have undergone restoration but date back to the 15th century, and were executed by Benozzo Gozzoli and Fra’ Angelico. In their Procession of the Magi to Bethlehem, one can spot Lorenzo il Magnifico and Cosimo the Elder among the crowds.  Fra’Filippo Lippi’s 15th century Adoration of the Child altarpiece is only a reproduction. Tickets have to be reserved at the palazzo´s ticket desk since the maximum number of visitors allowed at any time is only 10 visitors for 5 minutes to contemplate such splendour.


 
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