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
gothic, more frescos 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
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? Prato, Siena 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.
Just back from Florence where a variety of visits
(some first-ever) will make for many improved entries over the coming
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
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.
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.
A NEW THING
The churches on the list below are the best,
and now have a page to themselves.
Santa Maria degli Angeli
Santa Maria del Carmine
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
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
The Miraculous Image in Renaissance
Florence by Megan Holmes is an unusual investigation of the power and
usage 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 Rough
Guides to Florence and Venice and many fine novels, has also been a boon.