“A secret room” in Florence, Italy, connotes images of hidden wealth — gold bars, diamonds, and other jewels, perhaps — and after-dark intrigue.
When the room was discovered to be a sanctuary for the 15th/16th-century artist Michelangelo, the wow factor went off the charts, as did the anticipation of those hoping to see inside.
About 100 people can do so each week starting Nov. 15.
The room, 33 feet long, 10 feet wide, and eight feet high, lies beneath the Medici Chapels, where Michelangelo sculpted the ruling Medici family members’ tombs.
In 1975, dozens of charcoal and chalk drawings, thought by some experts to be plans for the artist’s future works, were discovered under two layers of plaster in a corridor underneath the sacristy, which had been used to store coal.
Paolo Dal Poggetto, the former director of the Medici Chapels, attributed the drawings to the artist known for the Sistine Chapel frescoes, the statues of David and Pietà, the Moses sculpture, the Holy Family painting, and other works.
Other scholars continue to debate whether the drawings are Michelangelo’s.
If the sketches are his, he would have likely done them when he went into hiding for two months in 1530, experts say.
Three years earlier, Michelangelo joined a revolt against the ruling family, leading to its exile. When the Medicis returned, Pope Clement VII, one of four popes from the family bloodline, ordered Michelangelo to be executed. The order was lifted to allow him to work on the Sistine Chapel and the Medici family tomb.
The artist's death did not come until 89 in 1564 in Rome. His body was eventually returned to Florence; there was a well-attended funeral for him in San Lorenzo,
Still, Francesca de Luca, curator of the Museum of the Medici Chapels, calls the opportunity to visit the “secret room” and see what was created inside ‘the unique experience of being able to come into direct contact not only with the creative process of the maestro but also with the perception of the formation of his myth as a divine artist.”
The 15-minute visits will be conducted in four groups every day except Tuesdays and Sundays.
Tickets will cost 20 euros ($21.44). There is also a 10-euro entry fee to the site and a 3-euro reservation charge.