Centre :: East :: West :: Oltrarno :: Fiesole

 The List :: The Lost

New: Siena




















I have to begin by saying that, as with my Churches of Venice site, this is a site inspired by my passion for renaissance art, architecture and history, not by any religious beliefs. 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. Each area thereby gets two unmissable big-draw churches.

For the outer limits I've gone largely with the outer (14th century) city walls. 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 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. Prato and Pisa might well be added later too.

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 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 bibliographic sources are listed below, with any books devoted to just the one church listed in that church's entry.

October 2017
I'm off for a week in Florence and Siena in the first week in November, so expect more than a little updating and upgrading.
I'm also experimenting with making  the text in every other paragraph grey, to differentiate between them without using up space with blank lines. I tried red text at first, being inspired in the whole thing by illuminated manuscripts, but changed it to grey because I thought that it looked too much like I was highlighting that text as more important - which I'm not.
January 2017
As my Churches of Venice site celebrates its 10th birthday I realise that I missed this site's 5th anniversary last year. As I've pointed out over on CofV improvements and expansions on both sites continue. Here a page devoted to Siena is now presentable, and new pages devoted to Pisa and Prato are possible.

October 2016
Just back from Florence where a variety of visits (some first-ever) will make for many improved entries over the coming weeks.
Santi Apostoli, the Baptistery, the Sacristy of Santa Felicita, Santa Lucia dei Magnoli, Santa Tržnita, Santa Croce, and the Chiostro Grande at Santa Maria Novella were all fruitful visits.

August 2016
Two trips over the next two months should see additions and updates here. Next month I'm off to Siena (with a bit of Pisa) with the intention of making a Siena page (and later one for Pisa). Then in October I'm off to Florence.

May/June 2016
Regular and eagle-eyed visitors to this site may have noticed that last year I experimented with a different style of page layout. It was an attempt to solve a niggling problem and ring some changes, but wasn't entirely successful. I'm now partially returning to the previous two-column scheme, but with a narrower left-hand text column (for ease of reading) and wider right-hand column for photos, and retaining the wider page of last-year's scheme.

 The churches on the list below are the best,

and now have a page to themselves.
San Lorenzo
San Marco
San Miniato
Santa Croce
Santa Maria degli Angeli

Santa Maria del Carmine
Santa Maria Novella
Santa Tržnita
Santissima Annunziata
Santo Spirito























The two standard works about the churches of Florence are Notizie Istoriche delle Chiese Fiorentine, written by Giuseppe Richa in 1754 and a book by a pair of Germans called Paatz called Kirchen von Florenz, written in the 1940s, in German, and derived from the Richa. Neither of them are what you'd call current, as you can see, and neither is available in English. The list and map in the latter enabled me to make my list of churches comprehensive and to find all of those that still stand.

Three books that I've picked up over the years have formed a basis. They are Florence - an architectural guide by Guido Zucconi; Firenze architecture by Lorenzo Capellini and Churches of Florence by Verdon, Coppellotti and Fabri. This last little book is closest to the most useful, as you might imagine, but annoyingly lacks both an index and a contents page.

Eve Borsook's Companion Guide to Florence and The Blue Guide to Florence by Alta Macadam have both been darn useful on recent trips, and for reliability.

The Renaissance Hospital: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul by John Henderson proved fruitful with regard to those churches attached to hospitals.

The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence by Megan Holmes is an unusual investigation of the power and use of images, rather than the more usual concentration on the makers and commissioners of these images.

Correspondence with Jonathan Buckley, the man responsible for the excellent Rough Guides to Florence and Venice and many fine novels, has also been a boon.






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Centre :: East :: West :: Oltrarno :: Fiesole