I have to begin by saying
that, as with my
Churches of Venice site, this is a site
inspired by my passion for art, architecture and history, not
by religious belief. The differences from the Venice site are -
more frescoes, more gothic and more architectural variety.
Venice's division into sestieri made the organisation of that site
easier, though. In 1343 Florence was divided into four quartieri,
each was named after its most important church - Santo Spirito, Santa
Croce, Santa Maria Novella and San Giovanni (the Baptistery). Here I've gone with a version of this division
- labelled East, West, Centre and Oltrarno. Only the East/West split needs
explaining, I think - it is divided by the via Cavour so you'll need to
tilt your map a little anti-clockwise to 'get' it. The centre is basically
the area east of (but not including) Santa Maria Novella; and south and
west of (and including) the Duomo, an area corresponding to the original
Roman walls. Each area thereby gets two unmissable
For the outer limits I've gone largely with the outer Renaissance city
in the 14th century and demolished in the 19th . I say
'largely' because I couldn't really ignore San Miniato and San Salvi. And
a few more are also essential, through their connections with other
churches or for the art that they once housed. In June 2015 I added a page
devoted to Fiesole - how could I not? - and in early 2017 a page devoted
to Siena became presentable. Possible future pages could cover Prato,
Arezzo or Pisa.
A word about hospitals. As with convents and monasteries it's impossible
to write about churches in Florence and not mention the ospedali.
But if - and this is admittedly not usual - they did not or do not now
have churches attached I've tended to exclude them.
There is no current book, certainly not in English, that lists all of the
churches. And although there is a comprehensive selection on the Italian
Wikipedia site, the entries there are mostly sparse and often taken
word-for-word from those old brown boards on poles outside the important
buildings of Florence, which are often more than somewhat unreliable. My
most-used bibliographic sources are listed below, with any useful books that are devoted to just
one church listed in that church's entry.
To search just within this site using Google, enter your search terms
into the box as usual and then type in site:churchesofflorence.com
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23rd June 2023
I've been back from my trip to
Pisa and Lucca a week and have sweated over fresh photos and such since
then, so that the long-gestating page devoted to Pisa, mentioned below, is
now pretty presentable, I think. Click on the word
Pisa above to have a look. The page for
Lucca is still at a very early stage, but I liked the place a lot. You can
read about my trip by clicking
21st December 2022
As we reach year's end my greetings for the season and my favourite
reads and listens of 2022 are
HERE, and there is lots to look
forward to and much cake needing eating. For this site there was
only the usual organic process of updates in 2022, but a page devoted to
Pisa was begun before Covid, and I'm looking to visit
that city to bring presentability nearer in 2023.
1st March 2022
I'm just back from the Florence trip
mentioned below, and
written up here. It was my first trip to Italy since Venice in November 2019 and
my first trip to Florence since September 2018. I had a trip to Florence
booked for February 2020 but it had to be cancelled, at the beginning of two years of cancellations,
lockdowns, staycations and online courses. Rules have been relaxing very fast in England of late but Italy
was still not taking any chances. Anyway expect to see updates here (scaffolding! cloisters!) in the coming weeks, and some nice new photos.
1st January 2022
Trepidation and carefulness are all
well and good, but sometimes a chap just has to take a chance, and book a
week in Florence in February. It's a guided tour, which I don't really
need, but it's a favourite art historian and a couple of old tour friends
are on it. It also means someone else is taking care of the tests and
forms. But I'll be crossing my own fingers. For more trips in the year
23rd October 2021
With only a couple of cold months left
in 2021 I am becoming resigned to staying in my own country until next
year. Travel to Europe has become possible, but what with the talk
of passenger locator forms, green passes, and the PCR/antigen tests
business, not to mention the need to wear a mask, I am thinking that waiting
for the Spring might make for a pleasanter experience. The first of my
guided art trips postponed to 2022 is Toulouse in March - neatly exactly
two years after my last (Covid-cursed) trip abroad, to the Van Eyck
exhibition in Ghent. Two years! Still I've kept busy and my churches pages
have all been refreshed with book reading and updated with reports from
more intrepid travellers, as well as sundry sprucings up and tidyings.
Some memorable travel around my own country too. Onward!
11th August 2021
I'm having to accept the decreasing likelihood of travel to Italy getting
possible and comfortable soon, but I'm getting knowledge and updates where
I can. A book called
The Italian Renaissance Altarpiece
by David Ekserdjian, which I'd worried might be too general in scope, is
providing loads of sharp and interesting facts and observations, adding
much to my paragraphs about altarpieces.
17th March 2021
I've just finished reading a new book
by Ross King called
The Bookseller of Florence: Vespasiano da Bisticci and the Manuscripts
that Illuminated the Renaissance and reviewed it on
Fictional Cities. It has also added
clarity and knowledge to my entry for the church of
San Jacopo di
Ripoli on this site. Two for one!
25th February 2021
Having discovered and been gobsmacked by the
monumental cemeteries in Bologna, Siena and Ferrara in recent years I have
decided to give the
Monumental Cemetery of the Misericordia in Siena its own page
on this site and add the
Certosa Monumental Cemetery to my Bologna
pages on Churches of Venice.
24th February 2021
So on Monday we Brits were shown our
slow way back to post-covid normality which will come on the 21st of June. Not until
the 17th of May can international travel resume, although this will be
reliant on other country’s vaccination states and rulings, of course. City
breaks in the UK are tempting me for the summer, but Italy is still
looking unlikely before the Autumn. It’s good to have a some rough idea,
12th February 2021
We're still in Covid lockdown, and as
a new season of art-history trips approaches so a new batch of
cancellations is upon me. Lucca this March is now Lucca in March 2022 and
Siena in May has just been cancelled and is now Toulouse, also in
March 2022. Parma and Modena this June has yet to cancelled, but is
looking dicey, I'd suggest. I'd like to vaguely and broadly conject that
UK trips might become possible in late Spring, maybe even around Easter,
with foreign travel maybe in the Autumn. Venice and Florence are certainly
high up my list when things ease up, especially if I can get to them
before the masses. The roll-out of the vaccine and the fall in the rate of
transmission and deaths across the UK suggests that some optimism may be
in order. Our esteemed leader is set to make some sort of announcement on
the 22nd of this month.
26th January 2021
Some hopeful news from Florence
seeps out. Museums and galleries reopened last week, amazingly even on
Monday, when museums in Italy are usually always closed. On the 24th the
Andrea Bocelli Foundation ceremoniously opened its new HQ and
education hub in the San
Firenze complex, which formerly housed the law courts. And
there's been yet another announcement of a rebuilding project for the
complex, this time it involves a French developer called Artea and a 31.5
million euro restoration aiming to provide a community centre. Work is
expected to begin in 2022 and be completed by 2025. We'll see..
15th January 2021
January can be a depressing month in
the best of years, and Lockdown 3 in the UK has made this January even
grimmer - stopping at home very strongly advised and only essential shops
open. But this week began with us getting two new cats and has ended up
with me getting my Covid vaccination. So some optimism that trips might be
possible this Spring.
May? June? Let's have hope.
14th November 2020
We’re a week into Lockdown 2 in the
UK, and as museums and cathedrals are closed until early December my life
currently consists of food shopping, online art-history courses and
working on the websites. So the colour scheme of this site is no longer
green, but a tasteful terracotta. I tried the green of the marble on SM
Novella, using Windows’ new built-in colour-sampling function on photos of
the facade, but it was too murky.
This site and The Churches of Venice are also benefiting from some good
stuff found on Oxfam’s online bookshop. A big hardback catalogue of the
Accademia in Venice has been gone through and been a benefit, especially
to the Scuole pages. Some 1970s guidebooks to the Frari in Venice, Santa
Fosca on Torcello and Santa Croce in Florence are next on the pile,
smelling strongly of old books. In hot new book news for Florence Ross
King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo and the
Pope’s Ceiling and a giver of two lectures amongst the aforementioned
online courses, has a book out on April 1st 2021 with some content
concerning the printing-press
San Jacopo di Ripoli.
12th October 2020
When the coronavirus situation
improved in the summer, and lockdowns were eased, it looked like a
September or October trip to Italy might be possible. But Autumn is
bringing further restricting and measures and it's looking increasingly
unlikely that I'll be getting my ass to Italy this year. I have been
working on a page devoted to Pisa for this site, but it needs more church
visits and photos to be presentable. Three art-historical guided trips, to
Siena, Lucca and Parma, have been postponed from this year to the first
half of 2021 and I really hope that they, and some solo church research
trips, happen. I'm getting around England, our cathedrals are grand, and
empty museums are a treat, but I'm definitely suffering from gelato,
gilded-altarpiece and fresco-cycle withdrawal. But life goes on
and hope helps.
Due to the coronavirus
lockdown in Italy Florence is now not getting visited by me next week and
neither is Siena in April. In better news all of my websites are now
shifted to their new hosting, I'm very happy to say. With several months
of triplessness in prospect and spending so much time at home, I'm now
contemplating projects. Adding a new city, in optimistic anticipation of a
comprehensive visit, is one option. Another is being more systematic about
each church having an image (and a discussion?) of its best painting, at
the very least. So now's the time - if you've ever thought 'Jeff's
websites are great but I really wish he'd...' let me know.
Making plans for 2020.
The Churches of Venice
Bologna and Venice
have had a fair amount of attention of late, but Verona has fallen behind
a bit, my last visit being in 2017. On this
site Siena got a lot of work last year and Florence is getting visited
this March. In addition I'm taking an art history tour of Siena and San
Gimignano in April. Guided trips don't offer much freedom to research, as
a rule, but often do lead to considerable content provision, and this one
includes the Chigi-Saracini collection and the church of Sant'Agostino,
both rarely or barely accessible.
Also my new camera (a Fujifilm X-T30 mirrorless)
helped my take some fine photos in Venice in November, and I now have a
new very-wide-angle lens, which means that I’ve now got to revisit every
church, especially the ones across narrow streets, to get even more of
Even more prosaically all of my sites will be moving to new hosting
next year, and I hope this will go so smoothly you won’t even notice.