san_lorenzoThe Medici were living large from the 13th to the 17th century. This powerful Florentine family produced three popes (Leo X, Clement VII and Leo XI), numerous rulers of Florence (notably Lorenzo the Magnificent, patron of some of the most famous works of Renaissance art) and later members of the French and English royalty. They ate, drank and made merry and some would say led Italy into the Renaissance. Through banking and commerce they achieved great wealth and political influence throughout Europe.

So I was very surprised when I first saw the unassuming Church of San Lorenzo ,the official church of the Medici where six of the Medici dukes are buried as well as other family members. Michelangelo was commissioned to create a chapel of tombs for the Medici family. His famous
sculptures of Dusk and Dawn, Night and Day are to be found here. The other part of the Medici Chapels is a domed octagonal room where the grand dukes themselves are buried. I like the gray and white interior and austere facade of San Lorenzo and I’m glad that Michelangelo left Florence without completing the exterior of the basilica. Work was abruptly cancelled by his financially-strapped patrons before any real progress had been made and the basilica lacks a facade to this day.

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