I never realized the history I’m surrounded by until this semester’s classes. On a tour with my Women of the Medici class, we passed the white statue of a man outside my dorm building in Piazza San Lorenzo.
The statue is of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, father of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Giovanni was a soldier, renowned for his bravery and courage. He was believed to be fearless. Not too long after his wife gave birth to a son, the Florentines were curious if the child would be as brave as its father, so to find out, Giovanni dalle Bande Nere had his wife drop his baby out of the second floor of my building. To the father’s delight, the baby didn’t cry, “proving” that he would be as brave as his father.
I also found out that the old building I’m next to with the pretty courtyard is the original Medici palace, commissioned by the first official-official Medici ruler (I believe), Cosimo Il Vecchio (The Elder). There was a competition between the architect/artists Michelozzo and Brunelleschi (was designed and built the dome on the Duomo) to earn the right of building the palace. Michelozzo’s modest design was chosen over Brunelleschi’s elaborate one.
It’s incredible to think that I’m literally living in some of the most potent and infamous history of the Western world. I’m basically living with the Medici (except that the last of them died about 200 years ago-details, details).