Santa Maria Novella & Santa Croce

If you had limited time in Florence and had to pick which churches or museums to visit besides the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo), I would vote for the two churches I’m sharing with you today. Up first is the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella,

which stands directly across from the main railway station that also bears the same name and is one of the earliest churches built in Florence, designed by two Dominican friars in the mid-1200s and completed in the mid-1300s. To buy your ticket, you enter through a side door that leads to one of several garden areas:

Definitely a sanctuary in the middle of a busy city.

The first thing you’ll notice in visiting just about any church in Florence is the sheer massiveness of its interior. Enormous columns, endless vertical space, and huge frescoes are par for the course:

Some of the most incredible frescoes are found here in this very church…

Your and my paid visits to these churches cum museums help pay for the necessary restoration and expensive maintenance of these works of art and fragments of history. There are priceless works by Boticelli, Pisano, Ghiberti, Bronzino and other one-named masters just on these grounds alone. What a shame it would be to let them deteriorate by the hands of time.

As impressive as the basilica is, the tour is not complete until you walk the Green Cloister (my all-time favorite hideout to just gaze at frescoes)…

the Cloister of the Dead…

the Refectory…

and smaller chapels that now make up the museum part of the church grounds.

When these frescoes were only textbook photos and slide shows from my art history classes at SMU, I briefly contemplated a career in art restoration, specifically frescoes. Though that path faded away as quickly as I could say Michelangelo, my recent stop at the Santa Croce, another incredible basilica of equally impressive proportions…

led me to a past fancy that never materialized when I spotted this woman laboring over restoring a small section of the fresco:

Sometimes the universe gives you a glimpse of what life could have been.


  1. larkie

    hi Chevy! Thank you for reading me. Travel is so much more fun when I get to share it 🙂

  2. Chevy

    Hi Larkie,
    I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the great work!

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