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michelangelo: graffiti artist
artist's wall scribbles preserved

by Nicole Martinelli,

With talent like Michelangelo's, even graffiti becomes a priceless treasure. Restoration efforts are underway in Florence to salvage wall sketches made by the Renaissance genius in a secret hideout where he took refuge from war in 1530.

The room remained a secret until art historian Paolo Dal Poggetto stumbled upon it in 1975. Experts were quick to realize the conditions presented a number of dangers to the preservation of the drawings and shored up the walls as best they could.

related books...

Michelangelo: The Frescoes of the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

more books..

Some 20 years after the first restoration, the opening of the room to air and humidity led to leaching of mineral salts from the plaster and the drawings were at risk. Thanks to sponsors, restorers are busy getting rid of mold, stains and installing state-of-the-art dehumidifiers. Once safeguarded, officials say they will open the room to the general public.

From his work on the church, Michelangelo knew about the cave-like space under the New Sacristy apse in San Lorenzo. When Papal and imperial troops stormed the fallen Florentine republic in 1530, the artist asked the church prior to let him hide there. Michelangelo was on the run -- charged with treason and ordered to be assassinated by the new Medici mayor of Florence -- because of his work on fortifications for the Republic of Florence.

Overcome by boredom during the six-weeks spent in refuge, the 55-year old Michelangelo used charcoal to draw on the walls. His mind though, was still on work -- in addition to a a self portrait and some caricatures he did preliminary drawings for the Sistine Chapel and statues for the New Sacristy. These doodles would prove helpful in the future -- Pope Clement granted him pardon on the condition the artist agreed to complete the Medici chapel. He finished the work but would never return to Florence, even to see the statues put into place.

see also...
*Tuscany Region
*Tuscany Guide
*Rub Shoulders With the Rich & Famous
*Discovering Monte Argentario
*Villa San Michele
*A Restaurant Discovery
*Tuscan Women Cook
*Battle of the Bridge
*Michelangelo: Graffiti Artist
*City Girl Meets Tuscan Farm
*Leaving Lucca
*The horseshoe adventure in Pinocchio's Hometown
*How to flirt: Lucchese Style
*A Tuscan Feast
*Traveling to Italy Forum

Michelangelo's hideout will eventually be open to tourists -- but until that happens, it's still possible to catch a glimpse of it. Look for lights on below ground at the back of the church -- near where the Maria Luisa Palatine Electress statue sits surrounded by a little lawn. editor Nicole Martinelli first went to Italy spend junior year in Florence back in 1991 -- and stayed. Now based in Milan, she divides her time between producing content for zoomata and freelancing for outfits including Newsweek, BBC, Becker Entertainment and Abitare TV.

Nicole has been known to proudly produce handfuls of official Italian documents at the least prompting; she also holds a degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University, a Masters in Media & Communications from the Universit´┐Ż degli Studi di Firenze and belongs to the Italian Order of Journalists. Recent after-work activities include research into stolen holy relics and advanced slalom on a Vespa.


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