Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici
In a tiny garden, at the back of the church of San Lorenzo, sits a statue of a woman to whom the city of Florence (and in particular all of its residents who work in the tourist industry) owes a huge debt of gratitude.
Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667-1743) was the sister of Gian Gastone (r. 1723-37), the seventh and final member of the Medici family to reign as Grand Duke of Tuscany. Gian Gastone died, without an heir, on July 9th 1737 and the grand duchy passed to Francis Stephen of the House of Lorraine. The Medici family's fabulous collection of paintings, sculptures, precious books, jewels etc, may have gone the same way, had it not been for the famous Patto di Famiglia (Family Pact).
In 1691, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici married Johann Wilhelm (1658-1716), Elector Palatine. The couple had no children. On October 31st 1737, she made a will which ensured that all of her family's art and treasures, which had been collected over nearly three centuries, remained in Florence 'Per ornamento dello Stato, per utilità del Pubblico e per attirare la curiosità dei Forestieri' (For the ornament of the State, the use of the public and to attract the curiosity of foreigners).
Anna Maria Luisa, the last lineal descendant of the main branch of the House of Medici, died on February 18th 1743. She is interred in the Cappella dei Principi, the family mausoleum, which she had helped complete.