the truths about michelangelo

Documentation by Vasari and Condivi to support the theory of Michelangelo Buonarroti being born in Chiusi della Verna

The biographers, Ascanio Condivi and Giorgio Vasari, reported the birth of Michelangelo in their writings.

Condivi wrote his biography, published in 1553, in close contact with the alive artist, who claimed that he was born in Casentino, in Arno valley and not in the Tiber valley, where Caprese is situated instead.

Vasari in the second edition of Vite, published in 1568, after making further enquiries and depth research, distinguished the ideal homeland from the real birthplace of Michelangelo  specifying:

Sotto fatale e felice stella nel Casentino - Baldini
From the book “Sotto fatale e felice stella nel casentino” by Nicoletta Baldini

So, a son was born under fatal and blessed star in Casentino, from an honest and noble woman, in the year 1474 to Ludovico di Lionardo Buonarroti, who is descendant, according to what is said, from the noble age and ancient family of the counts of Canossa. To Lodovico, Podestà that year of the castle of Chiusi and Caprese, near the Sasso della Verna, where San Francesco received the stigmate, in the diocese of Arezzo, was born a son on Sunday the sixth of March, around eight in the evening, that he named Michelangelo [….]

To assess the reliability of Vasari’s testimony, it is necessary to consider the relationship between the historian and the artist, confidential and every day more frequent. Vasari says this himself in the “Life of Michelagnelo”, part of the second edition of the “Vite” (1568), affirming that:

[….] everything that was written and that I will write now is the truth, I do know no one that was more in confidence with him than me, and that has been a more faithful friend and servant; I believe that there is no one who can show more letters written by him, or with more affection than he has showed to me [….]

We received the originals of these letters, which are autographed by Michelangelo and which are now preserved, with the rest of the Archives of the Vasari family, in Arezzo, in the homonymous Museum; they testify, in fact, the great relationship, not only between Michelangelo and Vasari, but also between the latter and the artist’s favourite nephew, Leonardo.

Hence the question: why after few centuries, Caprese took Michelangelo’s “birth rights”? It seems that a birth certificate appeared mysteriously in the Buonarroti archive, which is nowadays considered a fake by the academics. You can most certainly study in depth the topic through the above-mentioned book.

Enjoy the reading!  

From the book “Michelangelo nasce in Casentino" by Andrea Menetti

The Franciscan Fathers handed down the birth of Michelangelo in this place. 

Another important academic, specialist and enthusiast of Michelangelo who for years affirmed that the artist was born in Casentino, is Andrea Manetti in “MICHELANGELO NASCE IN CASENTINO”. As in the previous book, there are series of unquestionable quotes and documents from Vasari, Condivi, Benedetto Varchi, Raffaello Borghini, Giuseppe Scipione Mannucci, and other illustrious personalities of that period.

Very important is the reference to Salvatore Vitale, Franciscan Father and Doctor in Law. He lived for three years in La Verna and he is the author of the “Monte Serafico”.

After talking about Count Orlando in Chiusi, he adds:

Now it is Podesteria, its mayor handles the jurisdiction and sends his attorney to Montefatucchio every Saturday, to carry out administrative functions. In that castle of Chiusi, the Florentine Michelangelo Buonarroti was born; story goes that his father came from Florence to be the Podestà of Chiusi, with his already pregnant wife; she gave birth there, so we can definitely say, that he was rather Casentinese, for being born in that place, than otherwise.” Testimony in print of 1626.

Father Francesco from Menabbio, in 1636, recalls the importance of a booklet that precisely confirms the birth of Michelangelo in this place:

This booklet was for almost three centuries the historical and official Guide of the Sanctuary, which was reprinted whenever the edition was sold out. Every new print contained additions, rectifications and adjustments, the title itself was changed several times, and eventually, for the will of the publisher, also the name of the original author was suppressed.” *(Mecherini 1914, p.506 – At the first edition of 1636, there are 14 others)

So even the Franciscan Friars keep the memories of the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The rock of adam

The landscape of Michelangelo and the “Rock of Adam”

tondo doni - Progettoidea chiusi della verna
creazione di adamo - Progettoidea chiusi della verna

Generally, Michelangelo is not considered a great landscape artist. His backgrounds are bare and there is little interest in the natural side and the views. However, recent researchers have identified the places described by Buonarroti.

The landscapes of Mount Penna are the same that can be found in the “Tondo Doni” (Uffizi Gallery – Florence) and “The Creation of Adam” (Sistine Chapel – Rome).

In the “Creation of Adam”, the profile of the Sanctuary of La Verna and the rocks on which Adam is laying are perfectly recognisable. They have almost a photographic precision with the real ones, so similar that the contour of the body coincides exactly with the rocks still present on site. It is no coincidence that this place is known as the Rock of Adam.

The landscape of the Creation of Adam is located near the Podesteria of Chiusi della Verna. The discovery of the Michelangelo’s scenarios was made in 2004 by Professor Simmaco Percario, a Michelangelo scholar, in collaboration with a local artist, Alessandro De Vivo.

The resemblance between the real landscape and the one reproduced by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel is so strong to suggest that the artist created the fresco considering a drawing or a preparatory sketch taken directly on the spot.    

Detailed study by Simmaco Percario