Audio File length: 2.19
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English Language: English

To the right of the entrance underneath the courtyard's portico, a staircase leads to the first floor where you can visit a jewel that has been left untouched since the mid-1400s, during Cosimo the Elder's times: the Magi Chapel.

In this limited space (only small groups can visit the chapel for up to a quarter of an hour) you can see an exuberance of extreme refinement: the golden ceiling, the wooden panels inlaid along the walls and doors, the beautiful floor with colored marble inserts, including a large porphyry disc that was brought in from Constantinople for a huge expense.

The only non-original detail is the altarpiece by Filippo Lippi, which is a copy of the one preserved in Berlin. But you should pay the most attention to the cycle of frescoes on the walls, which with an incredible vivacity depict the Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem and their lavish procession. Among the many painters working in Florence shortly after the mid-1400s, Cosimo the Elder chose Benozzo Gozzoli for this work, a very trustworthy collaborator of Fra Angelico: the painter blessed the Medici with a spectacular, truly princely result.

You should know that the Medici, while aware and very protective of their power, intended to "democratically" propose themselves as the leaders of the Florentine Republic. For this reason, the image of the Magi walking along the same path effectively symbolizes "good governance" and agreement. The exuberance of the costumes, the splendor of the horses, and the festive atmosphere of the procession might make you think of the spectacular public ceremonies of the time.

In addition to the Magi Chapel, you can also visit other rooms on the first floor where you can admire beautiful paintings, Baroque tapestries, and magnificent rooms dating back to the renovations carried out by the Riccardi family in the seventeenth century; the Gallery is also a spellbinding sight, frescoed by the Neapolitan painter Luca Giordano. The scenographic effect is multiplied by the presence of large mirrors along the walls.

 

FUN FACT: in the chapel's frescoes, Benozzo Gozzoli inserted several members of the Medici family, depicted with great accuracy: among them you can even recognize the painter himself, wearing a red hat with his name written on it.

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