Bones Abroad: Visiting the Famous Dead in Florence

From the Piazzale Michelangelo, the vista of Florence

Over the weekend, I was able to take a day trip away from Rome to visit Florence. Florence is fairly close to Rome, and if you’re up for doing a rapid tour and lots of walking you can see the major sites in one day. Many come to Florence for the famous galleries, specifically the Uffizi gallery which features the art of Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, and many others, or the Accademia Galleria which contains the original David by Michelangelo as well as many plaster works by Bartoloni. Others come to shop at the many trendy stores, some of which were closed to the public while I was there due to Madonna doing some private shopping of her own, and open air discount leather markets that fill the street with a new leather smell.

I came for the famous crypts of the best and brightest of Italy’s Renaissance. In addition to living in Florence during this period of rebirth, many of its scholars and artists were also buried there. Whether their burials were preserved though is quite another story altogether. Below I’m going to discuss some of the more famous burials you may wish to visit on your trip to Florence.

Florence Cathedral: The cathedral, more commonly referred to as the Duomo, was designed in the 13th century by Cambio, completed structurally in the 15th century by Brunelleschi, and was given its elaborate Gothic Revival facade in the 19th cenutry by De Fabris. It is quite easily the most impressive structure in Florence, and also the most easy to spot from a distance. The crypt below includes burials of the Florentine bishops, the architect Brunelleschi, and both Pope Nicholas II and Pope Stephen IX. It is an interesting contrast of the simple and austere burials found in the crypt beneath such an elaborate and extravagant cathedral. As you head out from the cathedral, make sure to check out the Last Judgement painted on dome which includes some wonderful images of skeletons

Basilica of Santa Croce: This is the mecca for the famous dead in Florence, and should be visited by any true lover of the Italian scholarship and art. The building was constructed in the late 13th century for a Franciscan order who hoped to be closer to the poor, and is more austere and smaller in comparison to the cathedral. It was a popular place for worship and burial because of its wealthy and famous patrons. Now it is the resting place of those considered to be the great minds of Italy, including Leon Battista Alberti the architect, Eugenio Barsanti the co-inventor of the internal combustion engine, Dante Alighieri the author of the Divine Comedy, Galileo Galilei the astronomer, Michelangelo Buonarroti the painter and sculptor, and Gioacchino Rossini the composer of the Barber of Seville. Now, this aren’t all complete burials of these individuals. Dante is actually buried in Ravenna and only a monument is located here. Galileo is missing a finger that was removed at his funeral as a memento, and it can be found at Florence’s Galileo Museum.

Medici Chapel: Located near the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the tombs house the remains of the Medici family, one of the great wealthy and ruling families of Italy, especially during the Renaissance period. The tombs are magnificently painted by artists like Michelangelo and crypts designed by architects like Buontalenti. The sarcophagi are quite exquisite and you should take the time to check out the saintly relics stashed away in glass eggs. There is a range of variation in style and form, but all of their mortuary pieces are quite grand.

St. Ursula Convent: While sadly I was not able to visit this church, I would love for someone to and report on what they find there. Beneath the flooring of their chapel, a burial was found that was potentially identified as Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo, or the model for the Mona Lisa. While this is now questioned, the digging has continued since they know her burial is somewhere in the church. I would love to know if anything is actually occurring there now, or if they are showing anything from the burial!

Although it is unrelated to bones, you should end your day in Florence by heading up to the Piazzale Michelangelo where you can take postcard perfect photos of the entire city.

29 responses to “Bones Abroad: Visiting the Famous Dead in Florence

  1. There are two more burial places I found interesting during my four-month stay in Florence.If you keep heading up from Piazzale Michelangelo, you reach San Miniato al Monte, a beautiful church with a breathtaking cemetery (Cimitero delle Porte Sante). It is an fascinating mix of tombs which provide the visitor with an interesting look at the ways in which people adorn graves. The second (am my favorite) is located in the tiny and peaceful Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi. The church is down the street from the Dante Museum and right across from a leather shop called Dantesca. As you mentioned, Dante is buried in Ravenna; however his muse, Beatrice Portinari is buried here along with her nurse Monna Tessa. This is the same church where Dante is said to have married Gemma Donati-interesting, isn’t it, that his muse was buried here? Happy travels!

  2. Pingback: Presenting at UMMA « Bones Don't Lie·

  3. Pingback: Great Job. | imperfectlypoised·

  4. Pingback: Machiavelli and the Problem of Memory in Tigana « The Vinciolo Journal·

  5. Pingback: 25 Cities From Around The World That You Absolutely Have To Visit·

  6. Pingback: 25个有生之年要旅游的世界城市 | 流行趋势和网络照片故事·

  7. Pingback: 25 Cities From Around The World That You Absolutely Have To Visit |·

  8. Pingback: The Top 25 Best Cities In The World According To Travelers. How Many Have You Visited? | vdoobv·

  9. Pingback: The Top 25 Best Cities In The World According To Travelers | azzuri.org·

  10. Pingback: The Top 25 Cities In The World You Must Visit In Your Lifetime. You’ll Never Guess #1! » buzzcarl·

  11. Pingback: 25 BEST RATED CITIES IN THE WORLD TO VISIT | Thamani Travel·

  12. Pingback: List of 25 top cities you should visit in your lifetime·

  13. Pingback: Top 25 Cities You Should Definitely Visit in Your Lifetime - The Viral Writer·

  14. Pingback: 25 Luxury Capitals of the World that you must visit in your lifetime - Destination Luxury·

  15. Pingback: Here Are The Top 25 Cities You Should Visit In Your Lifetime. You’ll Never Guess #1! - Eye Opening Info | Eye Opening Info·

  16. Pingback: Les plus belles villes au monde | Véronyque Tremblay·

  17. Pingback: 25 городов, которые нужно увидеть хотя бы раз в жизни ! Угадайте, кто на первом месте! Golbis | Golbis·

  18. Pingback: 25 городов, которые нужно увидеть хотя бы раз в жизни | PureNet·

  19. Pingback: 25 городов, которые нужно увидеть хотя бы раз в жизни | Kleinburd News·

  20. Pingback: 25 городов, которые нужно увидеть хотя бы раз в жизни | Cloverty·

  21. Pingback: 25 Cities That You Should Visit In Your Life | Answers To Unasked Questions·

  22. Pingback: The Top 25 Cities You MUST Put On Your Bucket List Then Visit! - JujavibeJujavibe·

  23. Pingback: 25 Cities Everyone Should Visit Before They Die·

  24. Pingback: 25 Cities Everyone Should Visit Before They Die | eKanpSack·

  25. Pingback: Bangkok Globe | 25 Cities Everyone Should Visit Before They Die·

  26. Pingback: 25 Cities Everyone Should Visit Before They Die | Low Boredom·

  27. Pingback: Bangkok Breaking News | 25 Cities Everyone Should Visit Before They Die·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s