I had never heard of her until I went to Florence, Italy a few months ago. But now I thank God for Anna Maria Luisa de Medici. She was the last of the Medici family, and she was dying without an heir. The 300 year reign of the famous (or infamous) Medici family would end with her. Fortunately, she was foresighted enough to see that her family had collected hundreds of priceless works of art, and these masterpieces could be sold and distributed all of Europe upon her death.
So, in her will she stipulated that all her family’s magnificent art be kept in the Uffizi (Italian for “offices”) and later opened to the
public for viewing. She died in 1743. Sixteen years later in 1765 one of the world’s first public art museums opened up. To this very
day it is one of the most visited art museums in the world. For good reason too: the great works of Botticelli and Giotto, Caravaggio and Raphael and Michaelangelo are there. They even have two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci!! Of course, down the street at “L’Accademia” is the amazing “Statue of David” (he is seventeen feet tall and looks like he could step down and start talking to you!).
We went to the Uffizi with a tour guide and spent five hours there. It seemed like five minutes. The greatest works of art that I had
only seen in books, suddenly there they were right in front of me. It was yet another dream come true.
So, thank you Anna Maria Luisa de Medici for long ago ensuring that Florence Italy would forever be a great tourist center…and for
allowing me to see some of the greatest art the world has ever known.