Benozzo Gozzoli, from Florence to Castelfiorentino
The Chapel of the Magi and the Benozzo Gozzoli Museum, two Tuscan treasures worth visiting.
It’s not hard to happen upon spectacular places in Florence, where Renaissance art shines in its full glory and artists from ages ago leave us breathless with their singular talent and “vision.”
One of these genius Renaissance artists, creator of one of the most breathtaking works in Florence, is Benozzo Gozzoli, a 15th-century artist whose legacy reigns in Florence and the Valdelsa area.
Chapel of the Magi: a mural dating back to 1400
Sure, the name of this chapel might be misleading.
After reading it, you imagine a scene like many others, a “painting” you’ve seen somewhere else; after all, it’s one of the most represented episodes of the Christian tradition in art history.
But it’s not what you think: Benozzo’s fresco is unparalleled.
First, for its location: the piano nobile of the Medici Palace, one of Florence’s most beautiful Renaissance palaces that today is home to offices and temporary art exhibitions, not to mention its year round museum.
Second, for its execution: it wouldn’t be wrong to call it a 15th-century 3D mural. Especially today, with chatter of augmented reality and “panoramic images,” it’s amazing to think that centuries ago, without the technology available today, an artist was able to create an environment that completely absorbs its spectators to the point of making us feel like we’re part of the frescoed walls.
The chapel is fairly small, an aspect that accentuates the mural’s 3D effect.
The fresco, which represents a historical moment of Medici power (the procession of Pope Pius II arriving in Florence in April 1458 on his way to Mantua), surrounds you on four walls and absorbs you like a movie set.
You can almost hear the clatter of hooves and the shots of firearms emanating from the hunting scenes in the back, while the procession passes before your eyes: you are now a spectator watching from the bends of the winding road.
The details in the fresco are spectacular, while the perspective is so realistic that the characters seem to emerge from the walls. It’ll leave you absolutely breathless.
The Benozzo Gozzoli Museum
There’s another place tied to Benozzo in the Florentine territory, a museum dedicated to the man himself known as the BeGo Museum. You’ll find it in Castelfiorentino, a city in the Valdelsa about 40 kilometers from Florence near the well-known medieval town of Certaldo and not far from Montaione.
Here, you’ll find a modern museum whose focal points are a series of educational objectives and full accessibility.
Just as Benozzo represented the procession of the Magi with care and detail, telling us a story in a semi “tutorial” way, the museum honors Benozzo’s method by focusing primarily on educational objectives.
The BeGo Museum organizes dynamic guided tours, workshops for kids and educational courses focused on the historical and artistic heritage of the Florentine Valdelsa area.
The large variety of options caters to all kinds of schools and levels, including families.
The museum also prides itself on being accessible: it provides tactile and audio paths for the visually impaired and organizes workshops for people with Alzheimer’s. In short, the museum covers a full 360 degrees of services… almost like the Chapel of the Magi.
Want some advice?Go check it out.
Chapel of the Magi, Medici Riccardi Palace
Via Cavour, 3
Full price € 7,00 / Reduced € 4,00
Benozzo Gozzoli Museum
Via Testaferrata, 33, Castelfiorentino
Full price € 3,00 / Reduced € 2,00
Monday and Friday: 9:00–1:00pm
Tuesday and Thursday: 4:00-7:00pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 10:00-12:00pm / 4:00-7:00pm