I didn’t much care for the first season of this program (I thought Richard Madden was miscast as Cosimo “il vecchio”), but I really liked Seasons 2 and 3, which follow the life of Cosimo’s grandson “Il Magnifico.”
I particularly liked the fact that they didn’t sugarcoat Lorenzo’s complicated history (other than maybe by casting a good looking actor – Lorenzo was famously ugly). Lorenzo was not the banker his grandfather was – he relied on his agents, some of whom were loyal, and others who stole from him. But he was a superb judge of artistic talent, and believed that encouraging young artists was the best way of burnishing his and his city’s reputation. He also was a skillful and courageous diplomatic negotiator. On several occasions, when trying to avoid war he essentially offered himself as a hostage by traveling to other courts to negotiate peace, sometimes even when the enemy army was literally at the gates. In an era where Renaissance princes often acted more like Mafia capos than modern day heads of state, that took real courage.
The last season just finished its run on RAI (Italian television) and should be available on Netflix early in the new year.