Cosimo the Elder commissioned to Michelozzo the design of a building on Via Larga (now Via Cavour) intended to serve as the family residence.
The Medici were forced out of the city and the Palace in Via Larga, which was confiscated, with its contents, by the new Republican government.
Thanks to intercession of the pope, Leone X, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Medicis returned to the city, reclaiming their historical dwelling.
The Palace is sold by Ferdinand II of the Medici to the Marquis Gabriello Riccardi who commissioned expansion and modernization works.
The Riccardi family sell the building to the State, who transformed it into administrative offices, requiring major works of renovation.
Purchased by the Province of Florence, in the early 20th century, a series of interventions were carried out to restore its original appearance.
The history of the Palace
Commissioned in 1444 by Cosimo the Elder, the residence of the Medici family constitutes a model of civil architecture in the Renaissance. Its design was entrusted to the architect Michelozzo, to the detriment of the project by his colleague Filippo Brunelleschi, judged by Cosimo as being “too sumptuous and magnificent” and “more likely to stir up envy him among his fellow citizens than to confer grandeur or adornment on the city, or bring comfort to himself” (G. Vasari, 1568).
Not only private residence of the members of the family, among which Lorenzo the Magnificent, the palace performs its public function by welcoming important political figures such as Galeazzo Maria Sforza, whose portrait we find in the Magi Chapel by Benozzo Gozzoli (1459), depicted with members of the Medici family.
In 1494 the palace was confiscated together with all its contents by the new government, born as a result of the insurgency movement headed by the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola. The Medici were driven out of Florence and works such as Donatello’s David and the Judith were transferred to the Palazzo della Signoria, seat of the newborn Republic.
Having returned to the city in 1512, the Medici family once again resided in the palace in Via Larga, restored to the dignity of their residence, and it remained so until 1540, when the young Duke Cosimo I dei Medici decided in favour of the more strategic Palazzo della Signoria.
Now deemed too austere compared to the magnificence of the time, in 1659 Palazzo Medici was sold to the Marquis Gabriello Riccardi for forty thousand scudi. He enlarged the building and renovated the interiors with somptuous interventions of Baroque taste.
To this period belongs the construction of the so-called “Gallery”, with its beautifully decorated ceiling by the maximum Baroque painter, Luca Giordano (1682-1685), with a fresco representing the Apotheosis of the Medicis.
The rapid economic decline of the family, due to a luxurious lifestyle and continuous overspending, forced the Riccardi family to sell the palace in 1814 to the State, who turned it into the seat for administrative offices until 1874, when the building was purchased by the Province of Florence (today Metropolitan City), operating still today together with the Prefecture and the Historical Institute of the Resistance in Tuscany.