Santo Spirito

This is an excerpt from the book “Florence in two days“.

Santo Spirito
Santo Spirito

CHURCH OF SANTO SPIRITO

The district of Santo Spirito in Oltrarno, the picturesque neighborhood populated by craftsmen, restorers and antique dealers, gets its name from the Church of Santo Spirito. Designed by Brunelleschi and begun in 1444, it is one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture. The interior, in the shape of a Latin cross with three naves, is pure Brunelleschian style.

Inside the church we can find a wooden crucifix by Michelangelo. The sacristy was built to plans by Giuliano da Sangallo. Next to the church is the Cenacle of Santo Spirito, where there is still a fragment of the “Last Supper” by Andrea Orcagna.

BRANCACCI CHAPEL

This chapel is famous throughout the world for its frescoes by Masaccio, a masterpiece of Renaissance painting; it is located in the 13th century church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Masolino was commissioned to do the frescoes and he began work in 1424 with the help of Masaccio. When Masaccio left Florence, the frescoes were completed after 1480 by Filippino Lippi.

MUSEO ZOOLOGICO LA SPECOLA

This museum contains a rich zoological collection of both existing and extinct animals, but above all it is famous for its collection of 18th century anatomical wax figures by Gaetano Zumbo: it is considered the finest in the world for beauty and quality.

CHURCH OF SANTA FELICITA

Inside this church, in the Capponi chapel is Pontormo’s painting of the “Deposition” (1525-28) which is considered one of the masterpieces of Florentine Mannerism.

Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti

PITTI PALACE AND THE BOBOLI GARDENS

This palace was commissioned by Luca Pitti in 1448. The original plans, attributed to Brunelleschi, called for a much smaller building than the one we see now: it was enlarged in 1549 when ownership passed to the Medici family.

The beautiful courtyard by Ammannati dates from that period. The Pitti Palace was enlarged and modified many times over the centuries: it was the seat of the Lorraine dynasty and, when Florence was capital of Italy, of the Court of Savoia.

Today it houses several museums and galleries the most important of which is the Palatine Gallery, containing the private collections of the Grand Dukes, with masterpieces dating from the 15th to 17th centuries, including paintings by Titian, Giorgione, Raphael, and Rubens.

The other museums are the Gallery of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Costume Gallery, the Carriage Museum, the Porcelain Museum, the Royal Apartments and the Apartment of the Duchess of Aosta. One of the most beautiful Italian gardens extends on the Boboli hill between the Pitti Palace and Forte Belvedere.

It was designed by Tribolo in 1549 and then enhanced by Ammannati and Buontalenti. The 16th century fortress, Forte Belvedere, dominates the gardens and the entire city; it was designed by Buontalenti for the Grand Duke Ferdinando I.

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo.

PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO AND SAN MINIATO AL MONTE

Piazzale Michelangelo was built in 1869 to plans by Giuseppe Poggi; it offers a splendid panorama of the city. In the middle of this plaza stand bronze copies of Michelangelo’s “David” and the four statues on the tombs in the Medici Chapels.

Just above Piazzale Michelangelo is the basilica of San Miniato al Monte.

Its green and white marble façade is considered one of the finest examples of the Florentine Romanesque style. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, it contains fine artworks such as the chapel of the “Crucifixion” by Michelozzo and the chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal both decorated by Luca della Robbia and the splendid frescoes by Spinello Aretino, depicting “Scenes from the Life of St. Benedict”.

MUSEO BARDINI

This museum contains the fine collection of art objects bequeathed to the city by the antique dealer Stefano Bardini. The many masterpieces of painting and sculpture include works by Nicola Pisano, Tino da Camaino, Pollaiolo and Donatello.

Where to stay in Florence

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