Casa Buonarotti ☆☆☆

"Battle of the Centaurs" (c. 1492) by Michelangelo, Casa Buonarotti, Florence, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
'Battle of the Centaurs' (c. 1492) by Michelangelo

This former home of Michelangelo's nephew has some early works by the Renaissance's greatest master

First thing you need to know: only die-hard Michelangelo fans or folks with plenty of time on their hands need bother with this one.

Yes, this house was bought in 1508 by the (arguably) greatest Renaissance artist of all time. However, Michelangelo never actually lived here—though he did leave it to his nephew and only heir, Leonardo Buonarotti.

And yes, the rooms do contain a few of Michelangelo Buonarotti's earliest attempts at sculpture. However, while they are fascinating in their own right, and an intriguing window into the portrait of the artist as a young man, these sculptures are not, with all due respect, The David.

What's on display in the Casa Buonarotti

These early Michelangelos are technically proficient, and offer a glimmer of the talent to come, but are otherwise the kind of largely derivative works you'd expect from a very young student.

There's a Madonna della Scala (Madonna of the Steps) (carved at age 15 or 16) that was inspired by Donatello's schiacciato super-low relief technique.

The squirming mass of bodies, Roman sarcophagus–style, of a Battle relief (carved at age 17) is based on the reliefs decorating Roman sarcophagi and shows the clear influence of Michelangelo's own sculpture tutor Giovanni di Bertoldo, himself a Donatello protégé.

The works are important largely for the mere fact that they encouraged the young artist to keep at it—and impressed his teachers, tutors, and eventual patrons enough to keep him encouraged and keep that hammer and chisel in his hands.

Also by the hand of Michelangelo are two more mature works, clay model of a torso for a river god statue and of Two Fighters, niether of which ever got carved.

Michelangelo was not just a sculptor, of course, and the foundation that owns this house also rotates onto display, a half-dozen at a time, some of its drawings by Michelangelo.

There is also art created by the descendents of Leonardo Buonarotti (let us just say that the gene for artistic genius did not, apparently, get passed along), plus piles of derivative works created by a variety of imitators and admirers, and a fine little collection of antiquities collected by Leonardo's son, Michelangelo the Younger.

The house itself

One other curiosity: the current structure was actually originally three neighboring houses that were linked into a single residence by Leonardo—based on plans drawn up by Michelangelo himself. Leonardo's son, also named Michelangelo, was the first to turn the home into a gallery dedicated to his namesake and famous great-uncle in 1612.

Sadly, this most direct line of Michelangelo descendents (the artist himself—who was almost certainly gay—never married or had kids) petered out in 1858, but not before the last in the line created the modern museum and left it all to the foundation that runs it to this day.

Photo gallery
  • Sketch of Michelangelo
  • Wooden model of Michelangelo
  • The Galleria, Casa Buonarotti, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • A portrait-bust of Michelangelo above the door, Casa Buonarotti, Italy (Photo by Giovanni Dall
  • , Casa Buonarotti, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
 

Tips

How long does Casa Buonarotti take?

Expect to spend no more than 30 minutes here, honestly. Maybe 45 minutes.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).