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Cato Dec 11th, 2005 11:31 AM

Florence: Favorite Churches
Like many of you, I love to visit churches while in Italy. This is especially true of those that are a little off the beaten path, have unique features and are not too crowded. Would appreciate hearing about your favorites. Please mention where they are located and what other sights, restuarants, shops are close by.

Santa Maria del Carmine across the river in the Oltrarno area looks interesting.

smalti Dec 11th, 2005 01:31 PM

Hi, Cato!

Of course there's the Duomo, hardly off the beaten path, but with unique features that can be appreciated without stepping foot inside: Brunelleschi's dome, Giotto's campanile, and the baptistry's bronze doors by Ghiberti.

One highlight I'd recommend is not truly a church but rather a chapel, in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, north of the Duomo. The chapel isn't crowded because only a few people are allowed inside at a time.

The chapel's walls are covered entirely by a mural painting: <i>Procession of the Magi</i>, by Benozzo Gozzoli, and walking into the chapel feels precisely like walking into the painting. It is surreal and wonderful, and I recommend it strongly.

Have a wonderful trip!

Cato Dec 11th, 2005 01:52 PM

Thanks smalti - that does sound interesting.

I found out about San Miniato which looks to be a beautiful church with chanting. I'm going to try and time it so we can walk down to Piazza Michalangelo at dusk for a great view over Florence.

Hours found below. I assume May would be summer hours?

Via del Monte alle Croci tel. 0552342731

Daily: Winter: Vespers at 16.30, Mass at 17, Summer: Vespers at 17.30, Mass at 18

Statia Dec 11th, 2005 02:00 PM

Aside from those mentioned, I also liked the Church of San Lorenzo. Especially in the summer, with it's cool, white marble interior. It was very nice and calm compared the tourist filled churches.

Statia Dec 11th, 2005 02:01 PM

Just thought of another...Dante's Chapel. Almost eerily serene.

Have a great trip, Cato!

Uma Dec 11th, 2005 02:13 PM

You might want to check out the church of Santa Croce. This is where, among others, Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Rossini are buried. Attached to the church is the Scuola
del Cuoio (Leather School), where you can watch the leather artisans at work and purchase their wares. The church is in a nice piazza, not far from Piazza della Signoria (Uffizi, Palazzo

Cato Dec 11th, 2005 02:18 PM

Thanks for all the feedback - lots of good options here.

The write up below makes Santissima Annunziata sound like a good one to see.

The church of Santissima Annunziata stands in one of the loveliest square in Florence. Built in 1250 the church was modified in the 15th century by Michelozzo. Interior is Baroque and contains important works by Perugino and Andrea del Castagno. Don't forget to visit the cloister of the dead (Chiostrino dei Morti) so called because it was originally used as a burial ground. Also is the beautiful fresco &quot;The Madonna del Sacco&quot; by Andrea del Sarto.

TravelsWithStDavid Dec 11th, 2005 02:25 PM

Sante Maria del Carmine houses the Brancacci Chapel with its magnificent frescos, well worth a trip across the river. There are lots of small, very local type trattorias in the neighborhood. We ate lunch in a place where we were surely the only Americans. The food was cheap and delicious, the choice of wine either red or white, period. I don't remember the name, but there were several similar ones in the neighborhood. The church of Santo Spirito is also in the area, but was closed when we were there.
It was designed by Brunelleschi, but not completed till long after his death.

San Miniato is a indeed a beautiful church, inside and out. It is in a peaceful setting. Be sure to go into the sacristy, it is wonderful.

Have a great trip.

SusanEva Dec 11th, 2005 02:26 PM

Hi Cato,

Yes definately go to San Miniato al Monte - great views from the Piazzela Michaelangelo. Inside are beautiful mosaics in the apse.

Don't miss Santa Croce, for me second to the Duomo for historical interest. Lovely outside facade facing the piazza, monuments to Dante, Michaelangelo, Machiavelli, more historic art than you can see in one visit, two lovely cloisters (we got stuck in the furthest cloister on our first visit, not understanding the Italian announcement that they were closing the cloister at the noon hour - chaised out by a very cranky caretaker! Good thing we didn't understand what he was saying - couldn't have been curses in such a holy place?) Lots of shopping near this area, including the Leather School.

Smalti already mentioned the Bapistry, and it's famous bronze reproduction doors. I love the building for the mosaics on its interior ceiling. Terrifying scenes from the last judgement, including an image of Satan devouring men like he was eating a chicken wing.

(You probably already know that the original brass plates of the Bapistry are in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, worth a visit to see Donatello statues, a Michaelangelo Pieta, and the choir stalls of Donatello and della Robbia.)

I think Santa Maria Novella is worth seeing for it's wonderful green and white facade and the piazza it faces. Nearby is the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, an historic place. Shop for herbs, soaps, etc.

For a very special and personal space, a visit to San Marco, not far from the Duomo. The cloister is peaceful and simple. The cloister cells are decorated with frescoes by Fra Angelico. Beautiful to imagine what it was like to be part of this religious community 500 years ago.

Wish I could come along in your pocket!


ParadiseLost Dec 11th, 2005 03:42 PM

I liked the Santa Margherita de' Cerchi just down the alley from the so-called Casa Dante tourist site.
It's a small family chapel/church where Dante's secret love Beatrice is buried.

He idolized her thru-out his life and in his writings and artists have painted their one-sided romance for centuries.

A brief history of Beatrice and Dante

Was his love even at such a young age due to 'love at 1st sight' and a life soulmate?
Or was this unrequited-secret Love just a fad of his day?

I like to believe the former :). Regards, Walter

Cato Dec 11th, 2005 06:32 PM

Another one to add to the list.

Santo Spirito: early Renaissance by Brunelleschi, on the other side of the river, in the populated district of San Frediano. Wonderful interior, remarkable for its harmonious proportions and use of colours. The church has 38 side altars, decorated with 15th &amp; 16th century paintings and sculptures.

Cato Dec 12th, 2005 06:53 AM


DejaVu Dec 12th, 2005 01:34 PM

I like Santissima Annunziata myself. I have a nice memory of going to a Sunday Mass there once. (My Italian is good enough to follow most of it--well, it's not like I don't know the script :-)-- although I got a teensy lost during the homily!)Although I am conspicuously not Italian looking (Germano-Celtic redhead) and was by myself, people smiled and were super super friendly during the sharing of the peace. Also, during the Lord's Prayer, the whole congregation held hands, which even in the comparatively &quot;liberal&quot; US Catholic Church isn't very common. It was very homey service. There's an interesting relic in the back of the church also.

Yes, Yes, Yes, visit the monastery of San Marco!!!! Oh, it is so beautiful and peaceful.

I love the artwork in Sta Croce but am sad they now charge admission. It was very crowded in there the last time I visited (may 2004).

Cato Dec 14th, 2005 08:21 AM

DejaVU, the monastery of San Marco is on my visit list.

I don't speak Italian, but may also try to attend mass somewhere.

Cato Apr 22nd, 2006 08:37 AM

To the top

nospam Apr 22nd, 2006 09:21 AM

For something a bit different, try the English Church (St. Marks), located near the Pitti palace at via Maggio, 16. Every evening, they have a concert featuring piano and opera and desserts at the break. Really, really nice...

Cato Apr 22nd, 2006 09:37 AM

nospam, sounds lovely.

valtor Apr 22nd, 2006 09:42 AM

1. duomo
2. Santa Cruoce
3. San Miniato
4. Santa Maaria Novella

Cato Apr 23rd, 2006 03:56 PM

Appreciate all the inputs.

Angelyn Apr 23rd, 2006 06:06 PM

Another vote for San Miniato--so beautiful inside and out--and with spectacular views of the city. If you don't want to walk both ways, it's easy to take bus 12 or 13 up then walk back down.

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