Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Via Camillo Benso Cavour, 2-8, Florence, Italy

The cold stone façade of this palazzo gives no hint of the treasures within. Skip the grand Medici rooms, and go straight to the tiny Cappella dei Magi, adorned with a fresco cycle painted between 1459 and 1461 by Benozzo Gozzoli. Because the chapel has double walls and no windows, the frescoes have never been exposed to dampness or direct light, so their colors remain stunningly vivid. They depict the journey of the three Magi to Bethlehem, but Gozzoli incorporated portraits of recognizable personalities who had come to Florence in 1438 for a council meeting. Several Medici men can be seen riding in the procession, while exotic animals frolic in the background. The paintings are marvelously dense, and even though the chapel is small (no more than eight people are allowed in at a time), plan to spend enough time here to take in all the details. Closed Wednesdays. 

Written by Simone Girner

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