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The entire complex of Santa Maria Novella is being recomposed. New spaces and new works of art to be admired at Santa Maria Novella.

lunetta-cappella-del-PapaThe coherence and unity of the immense spaces of the Dominican monastery - one of the most important seats of the mendicant orders in Florence, together with that of the Franciscan Santa Croce - are given back to the public. Now that the Carabinieri Warrant Officer and Brigadier Training School has finally moved elsewhere, freeing more than 20,000 square meters, it is possible to appreciate this extraordinary monumental complex rich in history, art and spirituality, in its entirety. If in recent years an attempt has been made to overcome the “bureaucratic barriers” between its different areas (for example by creating a single Basilica-Museum ticket), now the circle is closing.
From now on the full museum itinerary, which will also include the Grand Cloister, the friars’ old Dormitory, and the Papal Apartment, is open to public thus literally doubling its spaces.

One is left speechless before the immensity of the 14th-century Grand Cloister, actually the largest in Florence, with its 56 frescoed arches (Scenes from the Life of Christ, of St. Dominic and the Dominican Saints) by the best Florentine painters of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, including Alessandro Allori, Santi di Tito, Ludovico Cigoli and Bernardino Poccetti; for the most part, the same artists who also worked in the Studiolo of Francesco I in Palazzo Vecchio. In the 18th century, the cloister was restored, creating the spacious lawn and closing the central well, where the statue, a work by Ticciati representing the Founder of the Convent, Fra Giovanni da Salerno, was originally placed.

The old Dormitory on the northern side of the Cloister, again dating to the early 14th century, is a beautiful space characterized, as it is, by a forest of slender columns that support a dense network of vaults, some bearing traces of the original frescoes. The current structure is the result, however, of a modification made in the past when the walls between the various cells were demolished, to make way for new areas of the Carabinieri’s canteen. The architectural style is the same as the near-by Foresteria, the ancient guest quarters, where the tourist information desk is currently found.

On the upper floor of the Cloister is the Chapel of the Popes (or of Leo X), what remains of the ancient Papal Apartments. In 1419 Lorenzo Ghiberti was commissioned by the Florentine Republic to prepare the sumptuous rooms to accommodate, from time to time, the Popes during their visits to Florence; Martin V (who was responsible for the final consecration of Santa Maria Novella), Eugenius IV (the same pope who attended the Council of Florence in 1439), Leo X (the first Medici Pope) were just some of the Popes who stayed there. On the occasion of the solemn visit of the latter (1515) it was decided to decorate the new chapel: Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, author of the Coronation of the Virgin, was succeeded by the young Jacopo Carucci, usually known as Pontormo, to whom we owe - in addition to the grotesques of the frescoed vault - the beautiful Veronica. The majestic figure, kneeling beneath a Raphaelesque canopy, shows the icon (the name Veronica derives from the term "vera-icona", or “true image”): the linen cloth on which the face of Christ was impressed. The bold, bright colours of this early masterpiece by Pontormo are the same as those of Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni, a true manifesto of early Mannerism.

For information and reservation please call ph +39 0552768224, +39 0552768558 from Monday through Saturday  9.30am-01.00pm and 2-5 pm.  E-mail:



Published: 17/4/2017

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