Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

Library in San Lorenzo & San Marco
Image by DEA / G. NIMATALLAH / Getty Images

Beyond the Basilica di San Lorenzo ticket office lie peaceful cloisters framing a garden with orange trees. Stairs lead up the loggia to the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, commissioned by Giulio de' Medici (Pope Clement VII) in 1524 to house the extensive Medici library (started by Cosimo the Elder and greatly added to by Lorenzo Il Magnifico). The extraordinary staircase in the vestibule, intended as a 'dark prelude' to the magnificent Sala di Lettura (Reading Room), was designed by Michelangelo.