October 10, 2007

The Bargello of Florence

Posted in museums tagged , at 2:41 pm by classicalmusic

A 13th Century Palazzo

The Palazzo del Bargello was built in the mid 1200’s as the residence of the chief magistrate of the city of Firenze (Florence).  It was then turned into a police station where many instances of torture took place in the center of its majestic courtyard, and where guilty prisoners were often thrown to their death from the roof top.

The palazzo is a beautiful, austere example of medieval architecture which is not easy to recognize because it is located on a very narrow street immediately opposite a large 10th century church called the Badia.  Today the Bargello is a museum housing some absolutely magnificent Renaissance sculpture.

Michelangelo at the Bargello

One of the main reasons that I love Firenze is that it totally oozes Michelangelos, and the Bargello is one of the places to see some of his great works.  There is a most impressive, lifelike bust of Brutus, so handsome that you can fall in love with him.  There is also a drunken Bacchus and a gorgeous medallion relief of the Virgin and Child with St. John.  Tourists who whiz through Firenze do not usually get to the Bargello for Michelangelo.  They see the more famous of his works:  David, the Medici Tombs.  But these smaller Michelangelos are pearls and not to be missed.

Also at this museum is the not to be missed Donatello bronze sculpture of David.  It is not as impressive as the monumental Michelangelo David, but beautiful in its own way.  On the same floor as the Donatello, there are some charming works of art by the Della Robbia family.

The museum is not a large one, but it is well worth a visit when touring Firenze.