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

 The List :: The Lost





















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. 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 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. Prato, Arezzo and Pisa are some more possible later additions.

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.

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9th June 2020
After three months of lockdown in the UK there's some easing. There's no immediate prospect of travel abroad getting easy, but at least the prospect of having to put yourself into quarantine when you return seems to be receding. There's still the close contact involved in aircraft seating and the likelihood that the airport check-in and security process will become even more tedious and lengthy though. Also hotels are saying that their breakfast buffet will be replaced by a la carte or room service, which will take away much of the essential joy of breakfasting.
But still - a spark of hope.

16th May 2020
After two months of coronavirus lockdown in the UK there's talk of easing, and even some planning, but not much prospect of anything approaching normality for a while yet. I'm a bit of an antisocial bugger so I'm not pining for meetings with friends or trips to the pub, but I am missing art, the London Library, restaurant meals, and trips to Italy - this is the first year since 2009 that I've had no spring trips there. Cancellations have meant that the Siena and Florence pages here have not seen updates. But on the positive side I have begun creating a page devoted to Ferrara on Churches of Venice, as well as revising the Venice pages there, have discovered a new favourite fruitcake, and I am growing a beard. And looking forward to 2021.

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 Iíve 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 wonít even notice.

December 2019
This year has been a bit lean with regard to work on the Florence pages, but I'm currently reading a book called From Giotto to Botticelli - the artistic patronage of the Humiliati in Florence which looks like being a trove for my Ognissanti page.

April 2019
I've been back from Siena a couple of weeks, so them pages has been getting very much improvified. Some recent books and exhibition catalogues devoted to Florence have been read too, resulting in sundry bits of extra enlightenment here and there. Improvement rather than expansion is my goal this year.

September 2018
 Just back from my trip to Florence and Arezzo with a fair amount of info and photos to add to the Florence pages, and small content but big hopes for a future page devoted to Arezzo.























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 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.





Copyright © Jeff Cotton 2011-2020
Centre :: East :: West :: Oltrarno :: Fiesole