In Florence, as in the rest of Italy, there are a lot of churches. They are nearly all beautiful, and many of them have exquisite art in them. Along with the tourists who want to tick off seeing that Giotto, or the other Titian, I find it’s possible to find some peace in these spaces. If you sit in the middle, it’s not too hard to blur the background noise into a non-descript hum and enjoy the atmosphere, the beauty and the incense.
Here are the big ones to see in Florence:
Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore – Gothic architecture with Brunelleschi’s dome sitting atop. Unique of its time it is a major feature of the Florentine landscape. Magnificent artwork can be found inside, including frescoes, stained glass and statues. Immediately next to the duomo is the campanile built by Giotto with a panoramic view available from the top. Completing the Piazza del Duomo is the Battistero san Giovanni with its three bronze doors designed by Leonardo d’Avanzano and Lorenzo Ghiberti (with help from Donatello).
Santa Croce – notwithstanding the imposing church, the eyecatching monument in the piazza is the statue of Dante Alighieri. The piazza perfectly designed for festivals and assemblies of people is now the finish point of the Florence Marathon and then transforms into a Christmas market place. Essentially a funeral hall, inside the church are tombs and monuments to the famous including Galileo Gallilei, Nicolas Machiavelli and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Santa Maria Novella – the name of both a station and a church. The station is an ugly building, but does its job of managing trains. The church is of a Florentine style and one of the most famous in the city. The nearby SMN pharmacy is of more interest with an elegant interior and a range of perfumes, soaps and herbs for sale. You can also find a small museum and a tea room.
Capella Brancacci – an offshoot of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, the frescoes are cunningly hidden and only visible by a separate (paid for) entrance. Brancacci was a merchant who commissioned the frescoes demonstrating early use of perspective and lots of bright colours.
San Pancrazio – the Museo Marino Marini is housed the the church of san pancrazio found on the small, triangular Piazza san Pancrazio. This museum is a must just to explore the many layers within. Wood and metal divide the open space in Florence’s main (only?) modern art collection.