Did you know that according to the UNESCO, Italy hosts around two thirds of all the artistic heritage in the world? Much of that heritage is in the city of Florence, and the Florentines have to thank one of the most powerful dynasties in history for that: The Medici. In Florence they found their home and the perfect scenario for their rise. They’re thought to have had a humble origin, but their influence grew so much that there were Medici that ended up being part of the European royalty (the French queen regents Catherine and Marie de Medici), and there were also three popes with the Medici surname (Leo X, Clement VII and Leo VI).
They started cultivating their fortune in the baking business. In the 15th century, the Medici Bank was the largest in the whole continent, and their wealth helped them gain control over the city government (which they would later officially hold). They started to focus on art, humanism and, especially, patronage. They promoted the rehabilitation of many basilicas and palaces, and commissioned many works of art.
Remnants of the Medici in Florence
After this brief walk through the history of the Medici in Florence, you must be looking forward to know exactly which masterpieces they commissioned. The most important ‘investment’ of the Medici was actually on a person and not a work of art – an artist that you probably know very well. We’re of course referring to Michelangelo, who produced masterpieces such as the David, that you can nowadays see in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. Besides the patronage, the Medici were also art collectors, and gathered all the art pieces that you can see there nowadays.
But the Uffizi Gallery isn’t all there is. They also built many of the important buildings of the City of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery itself, the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens or the Palazzo Medici. They commissioned the reconstruction of the San Lorenzo church, and the finishing of the Florence Duomo.
Besides their undeniable influence in the Italian artistic heritage, the Medici family had a long, turbulent history full of conspiracies and intrigues. The Medici in Florence are unavoidable, so you will be able to learn a lot about them the next time you visit this beautiful Italian city!