Free Museums & Historical Reenactment in Tribute to Anna Maria de’ Medici

A number of Florentine museums — thanks to the generous bequest of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici —  will be free to the public on February 18, the 276th anniversary of her death.

Sites which offer free admission on the day include the city-run museums.  Palazzo Vecchio, including the archaeological site, will be open from 9 am to 7 pm, while the tower will be accessible from 10 am to 5 pm. The Novecento Museum of 20th Century Art can be visited from 11 am to 7 pm. Santa Maria Novella welcomes visitors from 9 am to 5:30 pm. The Masaccio, Masolino, and Filippino Lippi frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel can be admired from 10 am to 5 pm. The Salvatore Romano Antiquities Foundation can be toured from 10 am to 5 pm. The Stefano Bardini Museum will be open from 11 am to 5 pm. The Bigallo Museum will offer reserved visits, either at 10 am, 12 noon, or 3 pm. Palazzo Medici Riccardi will be open from 9 am to 7 pm.

A colorful parade of Florentines in historical costume, complete with musicians and flag bearers, will leave from Palagio di Parte Guelfa (near Piazza della Repubblica) at 10:20 am and will walk to Piazza Signoria and via dei Calzaiuoli to arrive at the de’ Medici chapel in San Lorenzo at 10:45 am, where city authorities will leave a wreath of flowers at her grave.

For history buffs, there will be an opportunity to meet the woman herself, or at least her reenactor. Historical reenactments featuring Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici herself will be offered for free by appointment at 3, 4, and 5 pm (reserve by calling either 055-2768224 or 055-2768558) at the Pitti’s Palace’s Sala del Fiorino.  Entrance is included in the ticket price (€10) to the entire Pitti complex Palatine Gallery. The reenactment at the times cited will be in Palazzo Pitti on Sunday, February 17 and Palazzo Vecchio (with free admission to the latter)  on February 18. The occasion will feature both a young Anna Maria de’ Medici from 1691 as well as the older Duchess after her return to Florence in 1717.

The Marino Marini Museum, dedicated to Tuscan sculptor Marino Marini (1901 – 1980), will also be free to the public on February 16, 17, and 18 from 10 am to 7 pm. The museum, which is the only one the city center dedicated to a modern artist, will be gifting visitors with commemorative “vintage’ posters of Marini’s work along with a guidebook to the museum for Valentine’s weekend, which coincides with the Anna Maria celebration.

Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici was born in 1667 into the de’ Medici family in their fourth century of ruling Florence, the only daughter of Cosimo III de’ Medici and Marguerite Louise d’Orleans. In 1691 she was married to the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm (1658 – 1716) of Germany, with whom she never had children. She helped to arranged the marriage of her younger brother Gian Gastone in 1697.  He died in 1737 without heirs.

Her father attempted to include her in the line of succession for the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany due to the lack of males in the family, especially after the death of his oldest son Ferdinando in 1713. Every attempt, however, was either denied or not put into effect because of Cosimo’s forced obedience to the Holy Roman Emperor. When her husband passed away in 1717, Anna Maria Luisa came home to Florence, where she spent the rest of her days until her death on February 18, 1743.

At the time of her death, she was the sole remaining member of the de’ Medici family, with the death of her younger brother in 1737. Her greatest achievement in these later years of her life was the Family Pact, which decreed that all of her family’s art collections, should be left to the state of Tuscany, never to be removed from Florence after her death.

Thanks to her legacy and the money bequeathed in her will and objects in her family’s collections, the city of Florence established museums throughout the city, including the Uffizi Gallery.  (katy sparks)