Santo Spirito, Florence
Several wealthy Florentine families joined forces in the early years of the 15th century to build a new church on the site of one that had been burned down. They commissioned Brunelleschi, the city's famous architect, to design it. At the time of his death (1446) building work had progressed as far as the vaulting, but then it practically came to a standstill under various architects (bell-tower: Baccio d'Agnolo, 1503-1517) and was never completed wholly in accordance with the original plans. This is why the austere exterior of the building gives no hint of the fact that Santo Spirito inside is one of the purest Renaissance churches.The facade of the church, which was consecrated in 1481, dates from the 18th century and is totally without decoration, just bare plaster. Its principal feature is its outline and the large round window in the center. There are three different-sized doors in the facade, one each for the nave and the two aisles.
Santo Spirito Map
Address: Piazza Santo Spirito, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Useful tips: Photography prohibited.
Transit: Bus: 3, 6, 11, 15, 31, 32, 36, 37.
Santo Spirito Highlights
The entrance to the Cenacolo di Santo Spirito is to the left of the church. This refectory is all that remains of the old Augustinian monastery, and it contains the great fresco of the Last Supper (ca. 1360). This was attributed to Andrea Orcagna by Ghiberti, a view confirmed after considerable research and restoration. Although badly damaged, it is one of the sublimest 14th century works of art in Florence.The refectory also contains the fine sculpture of the Salvatore Romano Foundation.
Address: Piazza Santo Spirito 29, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 8am-12pm; Tue: 8am-4pm; Thu: 8am-4pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), Liberation Day - Italy (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter Monday - Christian
Useful tips: Photography prohibited.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Interpretive sessions sometimes available.
The interior is on the plan of a Latin cross 97m/318ft long, 32m/108ft wide, 58m/190ft in the transept, with a colonnaded central nave and side aisles and forty semicircular side-chapels backing on to straight walls. Thanks to its many works of art, tombs and monuments, Santo Spirito resembles a very impressive museum.The side altars are resplendent with paintings and statuary, reliefs and liturgical objects.
Left Arm of the Transept
In the first chapel Michele Ghirlandaio's "Ascent of Calvary" and the window are worth seeing. The adjoining chapel has Raffaele di Carli's panel "Madonna in Majesty" (1505). In the next but one chapel along there is another panel, "Trinity worshipped by St Catherine and St Mary Magdalene", which is ascribed to Francesco Granacci.Next comes the Cappella Corbinelli (sacramental chapel), exquisitely designed by Andrea Sansovino (1492), who was also responsible for the sculpture.
Another door in the vestibule leads into the first cloister, which is by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi (ca. 1600). The second cloister, built by Ammanati between 1564 and 1569, is usually not open to the public because it is used for administrative purposes.
In the apse, on the left-hand side, can be seen an "Annunciation" (15th century Florentine school) and a Nativity by the school of Ghirlandaio, while on the right there is a polyptych by Maso di Banco (ca. 1340).
Right Arm of the Transept
The right arm of the transept holds the altarpiece that is the most important work in the church, the "Madonna and Child with Saints and Donors" by Filippino Lippi (1490).
In the left aisle is the entrance to a beautiful vestibule built by Cronaca (1492-1494) with a door leading into the sacristy, an octagonal chamber designed by Giuliano da Sangallo (1495/1496) and a masterpiece of European architecture.
In the crossing is Caccini's early Baroque baldachin altar, richly ornamented with pietra dura.
The rose-window in the facade was designed by Perugino ("Descent of the Holy Ghost").
Map - Santo Spirito
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