The Bargello and the Medici Chapels museums are offering guided tours conducted by English and Italian speaking academics throughout the whole summer. Guided tours are available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The English speaking tours are scheduled at 3 p.m., whilst the Italian tours at 4 p.m.. Admission is free as long you have a ticket to the museum itself, all you need to do is turn up on one of the allotted days.
Bargello Tours in July include: ‘Stone and water forms: decorative sculptures for fountains’ (July 7, 15, 23) ; ‘Ivories, enamels and metals. Treasures from the collections’ (July 8, 16, 28); ‘types and forms of the portrait in the 15th and 16th Century’ (July 9, 21, 29); and ‘The Art of War. Weapons and Armour’ (July 14, 22, 30).
The Medici Chapel tours include ‘The chapel of the principles and technical salesman in semi-precious stones’ (July 1, 7, 9, 15, 21, 23, 29 – Thursday tours start at 6pm); ‘The New Sacristy by Michelangelo: perfect synthesis of architecture and sculpture’ (July 2, 8, 14, 16, 22, 28, 30 – Thursday tours start at 6pm).
Situated on the corner of Via del Proconsolo and Via Ghibellina, the Bargello stands as one of the oldest buildings in Florence, dating back to 1255. Its sumptuous main hall is home to the effeminate symbol of Florentine freedom: Donatello’s David.
David became an adopted mascot to Florence when the people exiled de facto rulers the Medici in the late 15th Century. The new Florentine republic subsequently repelled the family’s belligerent attempts, orchestrated from the powerful Rome, to take back control of the city. The Florentines wanted a republic and their small state briefly achieved it through courage against the odds. A stunning depiction of the infamous underdog cast in bronze, the his sculpture exudes renaissance class and virtuosity. His elegant contrapposto stance and pronounced hips draw attention to his nudity which is further emphasized by his choice of attire: a hat and a pair of boots. Its nudity is not just a nod to antiquity, but is symbolic of Florentine bravery and their desire to excel through artistic means.
The Medici Chapel is located on Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini and is part of a monumental complex developed over almost two centuries in close connection with the adjoining church of San Lorenzo, the “official” church of the Medici family who lived in the neighbouring palace on Via Larga (it is now known as the Medici-Riccardi Palace).
The decision by the Medici to build a family mausoleum in this church dates to the 14th century (Giovanni di Bicci and his wife Piccarda were buried in the Old Sacristy, on a project designed by Brunelleschi). The project of building a proper family mausoleum was conceived in 1520, when Michelangelo began work on the New Sacristy upon the request of Cardinal Giulio de Medici, the future Pope Clement VII, who expressed a desire to erect the mausoleum for some members of his family: Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano; Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino; and Giuliano, Duke of Nemours.
After completing the architectural works in 1524, Michelangelo worked until 1533 on the sculptures and the sarcophagi that were to be featured on the chapel walls. The only ones actually completed were the statues of Lorenzo, the Duke of Urbino; Giuliano, the Duke of Nemours; the four statues of the allegories of Day and Night, and Dawn and Dusk; and the group representing the Madonna and Child; they are flanked by statues of Saints Cosma and Damian (protectors of the Medici), executed respectively by Montorsoli and Baccio da Montelupo, both of whom were pupils of Michelangelo.