If you’ve watched the second series of the Medici, you might be wondering if you can see any of those locations next time you come to Florence. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but it turns out that most of the scenes set in Florence were shot somewhere else.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t see them. The filming locations chosen by the directors – Pienza, Volterra and Montepulciano – are close enough to Florence that you’ll be able to visit them if you’re travelling around Tuscany. And you’re in for a surprise. These three small towns are among Tuscany’s most evocative places. So, let’s go on a Medici hunt around Tuscany!
Where was “Medici: the Magnificent” series filmed? All the locations in Tuscany
Scenes shot in Florence
The facts illustrated in the second season of series “Medici The Magnificent”, in reality happened between 1466 and 1478, the year of the Pazzi Conspiracy. It’s obvious that many places have changed a lot in the meantime – Florence more than other towns in Tuscany.
Spotnitz says that it wasn’t possible to shot in Florence “both because it’s swarming with tourists, and because it has changed so much”. As an example, the Medieval walls are all but gone – and what’s left has been included in the modern part of the city.
They did take some shots right in front of the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The thing is that the Duomo would have looked very different in the 15th century, when it didn’t have the marble facade that we see today. The facade was in fact a 19th century addition.
The palace where the Medici resided at the time was the Medici Riccardi Palace, in Florence. It was built by Cosimo the Elder, Lorenzo’s grandfather. But the rooms where you see Lorenzo and his family that are shown in the series are not to be found here (the main hall is in Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Piero’s bedroom is in Ferrara, Palazzo Shifanoia).
The most notable room in Palazzo Medici Riccardi does feature in the series, and can be visited. It’s the magnificent Magi Chapel, frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli for Piero de’ Medici.
Volterra and the Palazzo Priori
When you see the members of the Florentine Republic enter the imposing town hall, it’s not the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It would have been too complicated to shoot in Piazza Signoria, so the director opted for the Palazzo dei Priori in Volterra. It’s the oldest town hall in Tuscany, and bears a striking resemblance to the Palazzo Vecchio.
During the meeting of the Florentine government, we see a frescoed hall. This is the Council Hall in Palazzo dei Priori, that can be visited.
Whenever you see a shot of Florence’s walls – for example when the Duke of Sforza arrives in the city – the walls are those of Volterra which are better conserved.
Did you know? Volterra finally submitted to Florence in 1472 after the sack of the city. In the series Lorenzo is shown as a sort of ‘pacifist’ opposing the sending of troops to Volterra, this fact is far from the truth. In fact he was the one who ordered it.
Pienza, Piazza Duomo
The exterior of the Medici residence is Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza, built at the same time as palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence. It’s the work of Renaissance architect Rossellino, inspired by the theories of Leon Battista Alberti who was trying to create the formula for the ‘ideal city’.
The Palazzo Piccolomini was the residence of Pope Pio II, the one that planned and financed the face-lift of Pienza and made it into the beauty that we see today. Next to the palace you can see the facade of the Duomo.
Montepulciano and the joust
We see Lorenzo challenge the Pazzi in a tournament, won by Lorenzo. A joust did take place in 1469, when he was 19, as the poem by Luigi Pulci “Giostra di Lorenzo” celebrates. The joust was organised by the Medici shortly before Lorenzo’s wedding with Clarice Orsini, a noble young woman from Rome. People in Florence weren’t particularly happy to have a “foreigner’ marring a Medici, and the celebrations were supposed to cheer up the disappointed Florentines.
In reality the joust took place in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, a square that was usually used for tournaments and games – today it’s till the case, with the Calcio Storico, played every year in June.
The scenes are filmed in Piazza Grande in Montepulciano, one of Tuscany’s best preserved Renaissance squares. You can spot Palazzo Nobili-Tarugi and the Palazzo del Capitano.
The shows creators say that although CGI techniques have been used, a great deal of the views, including those of Montepulciano were filmed live as the towns have changed very little since the Medieval period.
Despite all the historical inaccuracies and the unavoidable anachronisms in locations, we’ve enjoyed the series. It celebrates beauty, ideals, and art – a time during the Renaissance when men’s ingenuity was enhanced and the divine was sought in beauty. And the locations and costumes look simply… great!