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Discover the Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence

With beautiful architecture, the Basilica houses real works of art. Today we prepared a special text talking about the Basilica Santa Maria Novella (“New Saint Mary”) with many tips and information for you to visit this beautiful attraction in Florence.

Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence (Source Pixabay)
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Discover the Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence is one of the most important and beautiful churches in the city. Located in the square of the same name, the Basilica houses works of art, paintings and a fantastic history: all priceless. Today we will get to know the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Key to Italian history, Florence is home to true treasures. Today we will tell you a little about the history of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and give you many useful tips and information for you to visit this beautiful attraction in Florence. Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

A little bit of the History of the Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important and beautiful churches in Florence. Located in the homonymous square in Florence, the religious building and the attached monastery are part of an important cultural center administered by the Dominican order. The Dominicans arrived in Florence from Bologna, led by Friar Giovanni de Salerno, in 1219. In 1221, they started to manage the small church of Santa Maria delle Vigne (“St Mary of the Vineyards”), which was known by that name because it was on agricultural land, where there was grape plantations. The first stone of a new and larger building was laid there on October 18th, 1279, during the feast of St. Luke, with the blessing of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini. The structure was completed in the middle of the 14th century. The Florence walking tour is the best to do by foot.

The Beginnings of Construction

The project, although controversial, since there are some theories, is due to two Dominican friars, Friar Sisto da Firenze and Friar Ristoro da Campi, but they say that Friar Jacopo Passavanti also participated in the whole project and beginning of construction. The bell tower and much of the convent came after Friar Jacopo Talenti’s intervention. The church, although it was already completed in the middle of the 14th century, was only consecrated in 1420 by Pope Martin V, who resided in the city. Commissioned by the Rucellai family, Leon Battista Alberti designed the large central portal, the entablature and the top finish of the facade, which was all made of white and dark green marble. It was so colossal that it was not completed until 1470. Find out here How to get to Florence from Rome? and How to visit Florence in one day?

Church Remodeling

Between 1565 and 1571, the church was remodeled by Giorgio Vasari: the choir enclosure was removed and a decision was made to rebuild the side altars, which led to the shortening of the style windows. The Gaddi chapel was built by Giovanni Dosio between 1575 and 1577 and a new renovation took place between 1858 and 1860, at the hands of the architect Enrico Romoli. An important restoration was carried out in 1999, after which a ticket for access to the church was established. From 2006 to 2008, the facade was restored once again.


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The Church Facade

The marble facade of Santa Maria Novella is among the most important works of the Florentine Renaissance, although it was started in earlier periods. It was completely completed only in 1920. The first intervention on the façade occurred around 1350, when the register below was covered with white and green marble, by Turino del Baldese. Unfortunately, he died a year earlier, which is also why some tombs and two Gothic portals were built on the sides. They also made marble ornaments with blind squares and arches from the first cornice, which resemble those of the Baptistery of Saint John. The window has been open since 1367 and work was subsequently interrupted during the Council of Florence, which was also held at the convent. Read also What are the 10 must-see sights in Florence?

Façade Completion

From 1439 on, the need to complete the facade was reaffirmed, but only twenty years later, the rich merchant Giovanni Rucellai offered to bear the costs of entrusting the project to his trusted architect, Leon Battista Alberti. Between the years 1458 and 1478, the remaining part of the polychrome marble was covered, harmonizing with the existing part. The lower part was left almost intact in its medieval layout and only the classic portal inspired by the Pantheon was added, framed by the pillar-column motif which, although repeated, has a different design on the lateral ends. In addition to a classic design, there is a broadband decorated with square inlays and inspired by the old styles of architecture, which separate and connect the lower and upper areas.

The Upper Church

In the upper part, we can observe the influence of the pre-existence of the rose window, around which Alberti installed, in a very displaced position, a large tripartite rectangle linked by multiple geometric relations. Above, we can see a tympanum with the face of the Child Jesus in the center, inserted in the flaming solar disk, which is also the emblem of the District of Santa Maria Novella. At the top there is an inscription that makes reference to the symbolic year of completion, 1470: IOHA (N) NES ORICELLARIUS PAV (LI) F (ILIUS) AN (NO) SAL (VTIS) MCCCCLXX (Giovanni Rucellai, son of Paulo, year 1470) .

The two upside-down volutes, which are on the sides, have very fine inlays and act as a link with the underside, hiding the height difference between the central nave and the sides. Looking more closely, we can see that they are much lower and uneven. The one on the right was covered with marble only in 1920. The elegant central frieze is also made of marble. The symbol that can be seen on the facade of the building and in the loggia, as it is the coat of arms of the Rucellai family, which also appears in the small temple of the Holy Sepulcher in San Pancrazio. There, too, the pillars appear in the corners, and they also carry the Rucellai family emblem at the top.

Unification

With the intervention of Alberti in the building and the unification between the new and the old, through the use of marble marquetry, the Florentine Romanesque style began to emerge (visible in the Baptistery of San Giovanni, San Miniato al Monte and Fiesolana Abbey). The main feature is modular geometry. The scheme is, however, mitigated by some slight asymmetries that, perhaps, were planned by Alberti and perhaps not, which could have been a “mistake” of the local workforce. The scheme, previously, was not modulated to the millimeter, so it is likely that Alberti masked the lack of symmetry between the lower and upper vertical elements with an addition of inlays not aligned with other elements present in the work.

The Interior of the Basilica

The interior of the Basilica is magnificent and wide, 99 meters long, and is divided into three naves marked by ribbed vaults decorated with white and green two-colored arches, bounded by pillars that gradually get closer to give a grand perspective to the church. Among the masterpieces are Giotto’s magnificent crucifix, which was relocated there in 2001 after 12 years of restoration, and Masaccio’s grandiose fresco Trinity, a Renaissance masterpiece famous for its revolutionary use of perspective.

The Chapels

In the Maggiore Chapel, behind the main altar, there is a Crucifix by Giambologna and a remarkable fresco cycle by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The scenes depicted there are from the Life of the Virgin and the life of Saint John, set in Renaissance Florence. In the left transept, there is the Strozzi Chapel, all decorated with a fresco cycle by Filippino Lippi, from the 15th century, where the clash between Christianity and paganism is described: beautiful!

In the Gondi Chapel, designed by Giuliano da Sangallo, you can admire an extraordinary wooden crucifix by Brunelleschi. The church is also decorated with numerous stained glass windows created between the 14th and 15th centuries, among which are those designed by Filippino Lippi in the Strozzi Chapel. Linked to the church, inside the convent building, you will find three monumental cloisters: the Cloister of the Dead, the Green Cloister and the Cappellone degli Spagnoli (“Spanish Capitol Room”), as well as being able to see the refectory and cemetery of Avelli, burial place for some of the main Florentine families.

Useful Information for Visiting the Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence

Now let’s get the useful information for you to visit the Basilica in Florence quietly and put everything organized and in Travel Guide for Italy.

Where is it?

  • Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 18, 50123 Firenze, Italy.
  • Phone: + 39 055 219257

Tickets:

  • Ticket Prices: The visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is not free, it is necessary to pay a ticket that gives access to the entire complex of the Basilica + Museum (cloisters and Cappellone degli Spagnoli).
  • Value: 5 Euros (full price) and 3.50 Euros for people over 65 years;
  • For children up to 5 years old and with special needs and their companions, admission is free.

English-language website for purchasing tickets to Basilica Santa Maria Novella in Florence : Click here without Commitment and check the values!

Opening Hours

  • From Monday to Friday
  • April to September: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • October to March: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm (Friday from 11:00 am)
  • On Saturdays and on the eve of religious holidays
  • September to June: from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • July and August: from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
  • Sundays and religious holidays
  • September to June: from 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm
  • July and August: from noon to 6:30 pm

Mass Hours

Dominican friars continue to celebrate masses in the Basilica, find out the hours here.

  • Masses at Cappella della Pura: from Monday to Friday, at 7:30 am and 6:00 pm (in July and August there is no 7:30 am mass). Attention: access to Cappella della Pura is on Via degli Avelli and is separated from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
  • Masses in the Basilica: Saturday at 6:00 pm and Sunday at 10:30 am – 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm (in July and August there is no midday mass).

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Hotels I recommend in the Historic Center

In the Historic Center (Old Town), is really easy to admire all the main attractions of the city very easily. The old town of Florence corresponds to the oldest and most beautiful part of the city. If you want to stay in the real heart of Florence, choose hotels in the central areas of Piazza Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Cathedral, Gallery of Offices, etc.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.

Hotels that I recommend in Oltrarno

Always staying very close to the Historic Center, you can also stay in Oltrarno, close to the most characteristic craft shops in the whole city and much more. The area is perfect for those who want quiet accommodation and for those who want to breathe the real Florentine atmosphere. At the same time, you will be close to the center of Florence, a short walk from the main monuments, squares, churches, restaurants, shops and museums.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.

Hotels that I recommend in Santa Maria Novella

Another interesting neighborhood to stay is Santa Maria Novella. This is a particularly exclusive area because of the proximity to the station (great if you want to do a lot of tours leaving from Florence) and the famous Church of Santa Maria Novella, a very important reference in Florence.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.

Hotels that I recommend in Santa Croce

Another neighborhood where you can stay is Santa Croce, where the homonymous church is located. This area, located in the southeastern part of the historic center, is close to the most interesting monuments and has its fulcrum in the church of Santa Croce. Among the scenic palaces in this district, there are many hotels that can accommodate you for a wonderful weekend in Florence.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.

Hotels that I recommend in Campo di Marte

Another economic possibility, where you can stay in Florence, is Campo di Marte; in this area there are several well-equipped and affordable hotels. It is a quiet and charming residential area in Florence, well connected to the historic city center by public transport. Campo di Marte has its own train station where several regional and high-speed trains stop, with which you can easily reach other Tuscan cities and major cities in Italy. It is a great choice if you have rented a car too.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.

Hotels I recommend outside the Historic Center

And so, if you decide to breathe a less touristic air, a good choice could be to stay in Florence right outside the historic center, where hotel prices are cheaper and the most convenient solution if you come by car. Another possibility is to stay away, in some nearby town, and experience the silence of the wonderful Tuscan landscape, but in this case it is necessary to have a car.

If you want some indications of hostels (or B&B) and apartments, I have some options that I suggest if you want to save money; click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices!

If you prefer hotels, I have some options that I recommend with great cost benefit! Click on the links below and get to know each one. If you like the suggestion, make your reservation and guarantee good prices.


Conclusion

Discover the Basilica of Santa Novella in Florence. One of the most beautiful churches in Italy deserves to be visited with calm and tranquility. In addition to being beautiful, the Basilica has the power to calm us completely: body and soul. And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip, do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.

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