Oltrarno’s main piazza, Piazza Santo Spirito
, is a hive of activity presided over by the Basilica di Santo Spirito
(open 9.30am-12.30pm, 4 to 5.30pm Thu-Tue). The piazza plays host to
concerts and is a meeting point for many, especially the young. The inside of the basilica is
flanked on both sides by semicircular chapels and Corinthian columns of
pietra forte (Picture 1) which lend a grand atmosphere. Check
out the Cappella Velutti
’s Madonna of the Relief
by Dominico di Zanobi (1485) and Filippino Lippi ‘s Madonna with Child and Saints
which he painted between 1493 and 1494 and which is housed in the Cappella Nerli
. The baroque main altar seems awkward in such an austere interior. The sacristy
houses a wooden crucifix supposedly by Michelangelo.
By the church sits the Cenacolo di Santo Spirito
(tel. 055 28 70 43; open only Sat 9am-5pm Apr-Oct, 10.30am-1.30pm Nov-Mar) dominated by the Last Supper
by Andrea Orcagna
(c 1370) and some unidentifiable pre Romanesque sculptures are also on show here.Basilica di Santa Maria del Carmine
on Piazza del Carmine was built in the 13th century, destroyed by fire in the 18th century. However, the Cappella Brancacci
frescoes survived the fire (tel. 055 276 82 24/055 76 85 58; open 10am
to 4.30pm Wed-Sat and Mon, 1-4.30pm Sun). The access is through the
cloisters sitting to the right of the church entrance. Only 30 visitors can visit the chapel at once and just for 15
minutes. Booking is also necessary.
Masolino da Panicale, Masaccio
and Filippino Lippi‘s artwork is housed in the chapel. The events in
Saint Peter’s life were depicted by Masaccio who departed from the Gothi
c style to start using the Renaissance techniques. His best pieces are the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise
cycle and the Tribute Money
, also here. They were not completed by him since after a trip to Rome he died
and the cycle had to be continued by Masolino and then finished by Filippino
Lippi. Masaccio portrayed himself in Saint Peter Enthroned
as well as
Brunelleschi, Masolino and Alberti. Botticelli and Filippino Lippi
appear in Saint Peter ‘s Crucifixion
painted by Lippi himself. It was fairly common among artists to feature themselves in their work, even if only in crowd scenes.
Basilica di San Miniato al Monte
(Via Monte alle Croce; open 8am- 7pm May-Oct, 8am-noon, and
3-6pm rest of the year) features a terrace with wonderful views over
Florence. The church owes its name to San Minias
whose life after death has many versions such as him being able to fly or walk around beheaded! He was one of the first martyrs in Florence.
church was constructed in the 11th century. Its facade (Picture 2) is composed of
marble in many colours. Christ, the Virgin and Saint Minias are
represented on the mosaics on the façade, and it is widely regarded as one of
the prettiest in the country.
Its interior (Picture 3) is decorated with
frescoes and inlaid marble on the nave walls. Spinello Aretinopainted the
frescoes themed on Saint Benedict in the sacristy. The choir and
presbytery’s pulpit are constructed in ornate marble decorated with
The Cappella del Crocefisso
features a tabernacle created by Michelozzo and adorned by Agnolo Gaddi and Luca della Robbia.
In the Cappella del Cardinale del Portogallo
constructed in the 15th century there is a tomb decorated by Antonio Rossellino
and Luca della Robbia‘s terracotta tabernacle ceiling.