Tag Archives: Reliquaries

Christmas in Italy – Visiting the Tomb of the Medici

Standard
Christmas in Italy – Visiting the Tomb of the Medici

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

Wednesday, 03-Jan… I think.

So, somehow, I didn’t write down anything about visiting the Tomb of the Medici. I believe that we saw it on our last day, as part of the mad dash to check out the last few items on our tick list, but I somehow neglected to write down any notes on the trip. My apologies, but I’ll write as much as I can from memory alone… along with the pictures that I was able to snap while we explored.

The first memory I have of the tomb complex is that it honestly didn’t really seem like a tomb. I’m used to the sepulcher crypts of France and Spain, or the tombs below the Duomo and the Vatican. This was… not warm, but bright? It had the same architectural hallmarks, but somehow seemed to be more alive than most others. I think mostly due to the lighting – most of the tomb wasn’t actually underground, and most of the main tomb rooms had some form of windows letting natural light in.

I wouldn’t realize this until after the entryway, however, since the first stop is the reliquary area. Here we saw all of the ornate, guilded display cases that had been commissioned by the family to showcase their bone collection. All “certified”, of course… though I’m honestly not quite sure what that meant at the time, to be real bones of real saints. I think I saw a part of St. Peter in there somewhere, even. This part definitely did have the “tomb” feeling, don’t get me wrong.

The rest of the tomb was beautifully decorated, though, easily making up for the macabre nature of the beginning. The sarcophagi themselves were placed on pedestals, with soaring arches and high ceilings above them. We’re talking 20+ feet high, easily, with gorgeous stone inlays throughout.

The main attraction was the Michelangelo pieces, which were definitely worth seeing. Each sarcophagus overseen by Michelangelo displayed two contrasted figures; dawn and dusk, day and night, etc…, overseen by a figure exemplifying the person entombed within.