What was Michelangelo’s diet like, one of the greatest artists of all time? The Italian genius used to eat fish, bread and lots of wine. Kept in the artist’s archive inside his mansion “Casa Buonarroti”, Florence, this shopping list old beyond 500 years, was written by the Tuscan artist on the back of a letter, in order to make it visible for his servant to read. Filled out on 18th March 1518, Michelangelo first wrote the text then proceeded into illustrating it with several sketches, an understanding memorandum that even his (probably) illiterate servant was able to comprehend.

On the cover Daniele da Volterra, depicted by Michelangelo. Below: the 500 years old shopping list of Michelangelo. Public Domain picture

The list starts off with “Pani Dua” and includes:

– tortelli
– herring
– spinach
– wine
– anchovy
– fennel soup

The absence of meat-based items would not mislead into thinking that Michelangelo was a vegetarian ahead of time. It is necessary to keep in mind that the period in which he wrote down the list was Lent as back to that year Easter fell on the 4th April.

Despite today a menu such as that one can seem pretty ordinary, for the period when the list had been created, it displays a wealthy standard of living, with a rather relevant income compared to the common people. At that time Michelangelo was based in Florence and had just won the competition to work on the church of San Lorenzo, become pope Leone X (Giovanni son of Lorenzo de’Medici known as “The Magnificent”).

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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