Some of the greatest works by Michelangelo (1475-1564) are in Florence: drawings, sculpture, paintings, works of architecture. Here an itinerary where to find the most important in Florence.
The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia museum houses the original sculpture of David. It is considered one of Michelangelo’s finest works of art. The statue once stood in Signoria square, at the feet of the City Hall. David is portrayed in a pre-battle position, perfectly poised, pensive and ready to fight. The statue that you see in Signoria square today is a copy made in 1865 to replace the original. Another one, but in bronze, is in Michelangelo hilltop square, famous for its panorama.
Inside the museum you will admire other works made by Michelangelo, the “Prisoners”, a marble group sculpted for the Pope Julius II and the “Saint Matthew”, made for the Cathedral of Florence.
Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo’s house)
Although he never lived in it, Michelangelo owned the property where the museum is housed, in Via Ghibellina 70. It contains several sculptures and drawings, including Michelangelo’s early sculptures.
Follow via Ghibellina towards the centre, on the left you will find the Bargello National Museum. This medieval building, the old City Hall and prison, now houses some of the most important early Renaissance sculptures.
On the ground floor the gallery holds works such as the elegant Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and his Pitti Tondo, a relief sculpture in the round depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.. Michelangelo’s later unfinished bust of Brutus, and of the David-Apollo are also held here. The David-Apollo was carved for Baccio Valori, later accused of treason and beheaded on order of Duke Cosimo I, who confiscated the David-Apollo sculpture, and kept it in his bedchamber.
Michelangelo’Art in the Museum of the Opera of the Duomo
Leaving the Bargello, take the Via del Proconsolo towards the Cathedral and visit the Museum of the Opera of the Duomo.
This building was the workshop for the Cathedral’s construction and now houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance, the original decorations of the Duomo. It has been also the Duomo’s sculpture studio, used by Michelangelo for the creation of the David, originally made for the Duomo to adorn the exterior of the Cathedral.
Inside the museum you’ll find The Deposition, a fine sculpture by the Renaissance master (Michelangelo’s more famous Pietà is in Rome).
The Deposition shows the dead Christ held up by the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Nicodemus. The figure of Nicodemus is said to be a self portrait of the artist. According to Vasari, this sculpture was intended for Michelangelo’s own tomb.
Not so far from the Duomo is the Church of San Lorenzo with its unfinished façade.
The entrance for the Medici chapels is in Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini. Inside you will find Michelangelo’s “Night and Day” on the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici and “Dawn and Dusk” on the tomb Lorenzo de’ Medici.
Santa Croce Church
Here there is the tomb made by Giorgio Vasari, adorned with the allegorical figures of sculpture, architecture and painting. Michelangelo died in Rome at the great age of 89. His remains were returned to Florence and interred in Santa Croce after a funeral befitting a prince.
Inside the Gallery is showed his only Florentine painting, an absolute masterpiece: the Doni Tondo, or the Holy Family with the Infant and St. John the Baptist. It’s the only painting by the great artist remaining in Florence.