Cappelle Medicee

Friday, August 8, 2008

This morning a little before 8am, I was on my way to the Mercato Centrale near San Lorenzo so that I could get some fresh pesce (fish) and I decided to visit the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels). I walked past the Cappelle Mediceeand read that it opened at 8:15 am. I walked to a pasticceria (pastry shop), Pasticceria Sieni, where I had a cappuccino and a warm sfoglia con crema (puff pastry with cream). I find their sfoglie to be the best in Florence because they are cooked in such a way that the sugar on the outside is perfectly caramelized.

I still arrived before the Cappelle Medicee opened, so I waited outside with a few people who were standing in front.

I had been wanting to visit the Cappelle Medicee for a long time, but never found the right time to go. Usually I walk by after having shopped for food at the Mercato Centrale and I feel it cumbersome to visit a national monument while I'm holding bags of groceries.

I didn't read anything about the Cappelle Medicee before visiting it as I like to go in with fresh eyes the first time so I had no idea what to expect. By doing so, I'm forced to look at everything and not give any importance to any one item.

After I handed the woman at the biglietteria (ticket office) my Amici degli Uffizi tessera (card) so that she waived the 7 Euro entrance fee, I looked around the gloomy underground chambers. I am always intrigued by the reliquiari (reliquaries) that contain the reliquie (relics) of saints. I didn't recognize the names of the saints just as I couldn't identify what was in the reliquiari.

I went up a large staircase to the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of Princes). I was shocked the second I walked in to the cappella. It literally took my breath away even though almost every wall was had impalcatura (scaffolding) in front hindering the view. They are doing some work on the structure after one of the marble pieces from above fell to the ground. On a monitor in one of the corners, they explained how it happened and allowed them to see how the cappella was constructed.

The cappella was impressive because of its design and grandeur. It reminded me of something that I've seen in the San Pietro chiesa (church) in Rome. The ground and walls were covered with dark maroon and green marble. The six marble sarcofagi (sarcophagi) built for the grand dukes were massive. Their names were written in Latin at the top, but I could only read two of them as the others were not visible.

I had to sit down on one of the wooden chairs they put out for visitors to get a good look at the entire cappella. I watched the donna delle pulizie (cleaning lady) walk back and forth across the marble floor to mop it. I wondered how long it was after she began working inside the cappella that she became used to its awesomeness and beauty.

I walked through a small walkway to the Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy) where Michelangelo completed two of the monuments. The Sagrestia Nuova seemed too bright and austere after having visited the Cappella dei Principi. I unfortunately didn't stay long inside this much smaller cappella because a few people were talking loudly and it was distracting as their voices bounced off the walls.

I walked back into the Cappella dei Principi for a last look and perused the glass cases that were filled with letters, books, and trinkets from the Medici family.

I plan on going back to the Cappella dei Principi another day once they have finished working so I can see the walls without the impalcatura. I'm sure I'll be even more impressed with the cappella than I was today.

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August 2008


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