There is a rich fifteenth century history of silence, solitude and simplicity at the Convent of San Marco. Cosimo de’Medici (1389-1464) often retreated here from the busyness of being the unofficial leader of Florence. He came for study and contemplation. On the other hand, the Dominican monk, Savonarola (before he was burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria in 1494) lived at the convent as he rallied the Florentine citizens to lead a pious life and take back the government from the wealthy families and merchants. Interesting to note that neither men weren’t confined to one cell, but had a suite. Cosimo had two rooms, Savonarola, three.
Even today, as someone drawn to silence, solitude and simplicity, this is the palace to be. Each cell is about 12’ x 12’. Back when monks were living there, we believe that all each cell contained was a bed and table and maybe a chair. What more could they hold, and besides, what else did a monk have or need?
I have more furniture in this apartment than I need, but my belongings are simple. Just like at my cottage by the sea, I use few dishes, wear the same few clothes, and accumulate as little as possible. Like Cosimo, I’d love to retreat to a cell in the Convent of San Marco.