Santa Maria Novella Church, Florence
One Of The Most Stunning Churchs In Florence, And Maybe Italy!
The Church of Santa Maria Novella is often overlooked by visitors to Florence who tend to pack their days viewing The Duomo, The Uffizi Gallery and The Academia Galleria (statue of David). This must change. I insist, if not summon you to carve out 1.5 hours in your Florence itinerary as I promise the church and its immense grounds will be one of the most spectacular sites you will visit.
What makes this church so special?
One morning I was on my usual random walk around town when I came across the Church of Santa Maria Novella. As I had nothing else happening, I paid the €5 entry fee, threw my shawl around my shoulders and mosied on in. Holy Batman! I immediately succumbed to its beauty and charm. I stood at the back, faced the main altar which seemed miles away, and gawked. This is not hyperbole. I literally planted my feet and did not move – the arches both overhead and to the side drew my eyes to the enormous crucifix hanging in the center of Santa Maria Novella. The enormity of it is like nothing I had ever seen.
As I walked closer to the crucifix, I noticed the multiple chapels within the church. Each chapel is dedicated to a different religious figure and with frescoes representing their life. The chapels on either side of the main altar are viewed by climbing a few stairs. From the landing, the views of Santa Maria Novella are breathtaking. As I stood at the Gondi Chapel to the left of the main altar a gentleman began playing a small organ. The sound of music reverberating through the Church of Santa Maria Novella stopped everyone in their tracks. Most of us sat on a pew and took in the awesomeness of the music in one of the most incredible settings. It was if he was performing a secret show to only a select few. It was at this moment that I let out a sigh and melted into the church atmosphere.
Time passed, who knows how long, and I thought that was the end of my Santa Maria Novella experience. I was wrong. When I exited the church, opposite the entrance, I realized that there was so much more to see – Cloister of the Dead, Spanish Chapel, Grand Cloister, and Refectory.
CLOISTER OF THE DEAD
Walk under the cloister vaults and notice on either side thousands of names of the deceased from centuries past. The open archway and calming gray walls are soothing, which is much needed when walking through an old cemetery.
Walk into Cappellone degli Spagnoli and view the frescoes depicting Christ’s death and resurrection, Triumph of the Catholic Doctrine, and St. Peter Martyr.
This larger room houses art, frescoes, sacred objects and religious clothes from centuries past.
THE GRAND CLOISTER
I came at the perfect time as this Cloister used to be closed to the public as it originally housed the school of Marescialli and Brigadiers of the Carabinieri. How lucky to have walked through the 56 arcades with notable frescoes and portraits depicting Dominican Saints, Christ, and influential members of Santa Maria Novella.
SANTA MARIA NOVELLA PROFUMO
This is one of the most beautiful perfume shops with romantic decor that equally match its high-end products. Each room is dedicated to certain items and the soft smells of soaps, perfumes, and essences to the beautifully packaged cosmetics, candles, and liqueurs are a perfect gift for yourself or others.
- What: The Church of Santa Maria Novella
- Where: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (3-minute walk from train station)
- Hours: Mon – Thurs 9.00 – 5.30pm, Fri 11.00 – 5.30pm, Sat 9.00 – 5.00pm, Sundays and religious holidays 1.00 – 5.00pm
- Price: €5