Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici

The Medici who took the family big time, became Duke of Florence, then ruled all of Tuscany as Grand Duke

Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (1519–1574) started off simply as a second cousin on a lesser branch of the Medici family tree, who in 1537 was tapped at age 17 to take over as head of the family in Florence when the main Medici line petered out with the assasination of Duke Alessandro de' Medici.

Everyone expected young Cosimo to be an easily controlled push-over.

Everyone was wrong.

Cosimo I ended up reigning for 33 years and transforming the Medici from Florence's foremost banking concern and titular Dukes of Florence into the Grand Dukes of Tuscany (as of 1569) and major players on the European political scene.

He also took on the family mantle as a leading patron of the arts (Vasari, Cellini, Pontormo, Bronzino, etc.).

Cosimo I also built the Uffizi (as the family offices) and enlarged the Pitti Palace (the new family house).

Tips & links

Medici tours
How long does Florence take?

Planning your day: Florence would well be worth a week, but you can still fit a lot into just a day or three.

To help you get the most out of your limited time in the Cradle of the Renaissance, here are some perfect itineraries, whether you have one, two, or three days to spend in Florence.

» Florence itineraries

Florence tours

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