A Renaissance Spa, Restored: Discover Cosimo de’ Medici’s 'Comodo' in Palazzo Vecchio

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 03:00
what to see in Florence

More than just a ‘bathroom’, Cosimo de’ Medici’s so-called Comodo, located inside Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, has been restored, as part of the ‘Florence I Care’ project,  which gives private citizens and companies the possibility to finance the restoration of and help safeguard Florence’s artistic heritage.  

The Comodo could be likened to a sort of today’s spa, albeit private: it was the typical Renaissance bathroom-sauna, which included a tub and a hydraulic system that heated water and produced steam. These rooms were very much in vogue in the noble palaces of the Renaissance, as intimate spaces devoted to one’s wellness and body care.

The Comodo has a large stone tub, equipped with two holes, for hot and cold water, and an oval niche where, at the bottom, was a slot for, most likely, a grill which was used to place containers holding essential oils; there was also a canal through which the air, heated in an adjacent room, passed through.

Cosimo’s Comodo is elegantly decorated with grotesques, stuccos and scenes inspired by Apuleius’ story of Cupid and Psyche, perhaps a reference to the wedding between Francesco I de' Medici, son of Cosimo, and Giovanna d'Austria, in 1565. The decorations are the work of Marco da Faenza, an artist close to Giorgio Vasari.

The bathroom/sauna is located near the Sala dei Duecento, on the first floor, under the ladder that connected Cosimo I’s apartment to that of duchess Eleanor.

The restoration took five months to complete and cost 20,000 euros. It was sponsored by Geberit-Pozzi Ginori, a company specialized in bathroom design, which described Cosimo’s Comodo as “A beautiful place, light and delicate (a bathroom, a bathroom/sauna, a room for body care and well-being) embellished with paintings by Marco da Faenza from the Vasari school, which make it a true work of art.”

Cosimo’s Comodo should soon be added to the itinerary of the Palazzo Vecchio visit.