The Medici family ordered a copy of the world map by Fra Mauro (active ca. 1430-ca. 1459/1464) some time between 1478 and 1480. The abbot of the San Michele monastery, Pietro Dolfin (1444-1525), who later became General of the Camaldolite Order, translated many of the map’s cartouches into Latin, collecting them in a booklet which has since been lost. Dolfin mentions this booklet in a letter sent to the Prior of San Michele, Bernardino Gadolo (1463-1499), who in 1494 had requested a copy of the Latin translation, which Gadolo may have intended to use in composing his history of the Camaldolite Order.

Dolfin suggested that the prior might look for the booklet in his cell in San Michele, explaining that, despite his friendship with Piero de’ Medici (1416-1469), the anti-Medicean riots led by Savonarola (1452-1498) were impeding him from having his translations transcribed directly from the copy of the world map then conserved at the Medici palace in Via Larga. It is likely that the Florentine copy of the “San Michele world map”, as it was then called, was destroyed during the tumults.

The Medici commission, in any case, is clear testimony of the map’s celebrity during the second half of the 15th century, at least up to the discovery of the New World, which would bring about a radical revision in geographical knowledge.