At its height Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often-bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which was that of the Medici. From relatively modest beginnings, the Medici became bankers to rich and powerful families in Europe and bankers to the Pope. But perhaps their most enduring legacy and for which the world owes the Medici a debt of gratitude is their patronage of the arts. Artists such as Brunelleschi, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, and Michelangelo all thrived under Medici patronage. Join Renaissance art historian, Elaine Ruffolo as she charts this family’s influence on the political, economic, and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, to the golden era under Lorenzo il Magnifico, to the family’s ultimate goal: a papal tiara.
Speaker Elaine Ruffolo has been teaching Renaissance art history in Florence for over 30 years and is a popular instructor for students and adults. Elaine holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Syracuse University, and first came to Italy as a Florence Fellow in 1989. Ruffolo has lectured to many American programs in Italy including those sponsored by Syracuse, Stanford, and Vanderbilt Universities, and currently develops academic travel programs for small groups such as the Smithsonian Associates, Yale Alumni, College of William and Mary, the Clark Institute at Williams College, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is on the advisory board of the Friends of Florence, and consults for CEO and YPO programs in Europe including Rome, Florence, Sicily, Naples and Greece. Ruffolo recently began online art history presentations (entitled “Art History Encounters”) as a way to bring the art and culture of Italy directly to people’s homes.