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

 The List :: The Lost

Siena   †   Pisa



















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 big-draw churches.

For the outer limits I've gone largely with the outer Renaissance city walls -built 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

Click here to send me an encouraging e-mail

This is Me
and my other sites are...


These sites also have their own Facebook page...
The Friends of Fictional Cities and the Churches of Venice & Florence

Click on the link and Like the page for regular news updates.
You can post (positive) comments too.

1st January 2024
No trips in the second half of 2023 to add to these pages, just a few books mined, and information gleaned. But surely 2024 will see a visit or two to provide some fresh content. Surely!
Happy New Year.

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 HERE.

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 ahead also.

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, though.

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 ruined Sant'Orsola 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 nuns of 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.

21st March 2020
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.

January/February 2020
Making plans for 2020. Over on 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 them in!
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.






















The two standard works about the churches of Florence are Notizie Istoriche delle Chiese Fiorentine, written by Giuseppe Richa in 1754/62 and a five-volume book by Walter and Elisabeth Paatz called Kirchen von Florenz published in the 1950s in German, and derived from the Richa. Neither of them are what you'd call current, as you can see, and neither was translated into 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. Some volumes called Le Chiese di Firenze by Alberto Busignani published late in the 20th century have recently been brought to my attention. I'm working my way through them and seeing what I can find out, and scan.

Three late-20th-century 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 the 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. Ditto recent contact with author Ross King and Laura Llewellyn from the London National Gallery.






Copyright © Jeff Cotton 2011-2024

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