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  • Writer's pictureTina Smith

Basilica Santa Croce

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Today we went to visit basilica Santa Croce. The basilica was built in 1295, on the site where, around 1210, the first Franciscan friars to arrive in Florence had a small oratory. Entering the basilica, in the Florentine gothic style, our attention was immediately drawn to the east end, where the tall narrow stain glass above the alter will be seen.

Several of the great Florentine families, including the Bardi, the Peruzzi, the Alberti, the Baroncelli and the Rinuccini, acquired the patronage of chapels in Santa Croce, thereby assuming the honour of decorating and furnishing them. Some of this 14th-century decoration has survived down to our own time, including that painted by the great Giotto, who frescoed the chapels of the banking families Bardi and Peruzzi (1320-25)

In 1429 Andrea de’ Pazzi undertook the construction of the Chapter House (known as the Pazzi Chapel which was closed today) It is one of the most harmonious buildings of the Florentine Renaissance, and is decorated not by frescoes but by glazed terracotta roundels.

The Chapel of the Noviciate, which Michelozzo built around 1445 for Cosimo de’ Medici, has a glazed terracotta altarpiece by Andrea della Robbia, of the Madonna and Child with Saints.

It is significant that Santa Croce, which was to become the resting-place of so many great Italians is marked by its tombs.

This first photo posted is of Michelangelo’s tomb. Michelangelo, who died in Rome in 1564, was buried here beneath a monument. Michelangelo’s tomb served as the model for others, such as the tomb of Galileo, who died in 1642. Funerary monuments continued to be added to the interior, including ones to Niccolò Machiavelli, Vittorio Alfieri, Gioachino Rossini and the cenotaph to Dante Alighieri (1829). Ugo Foscolo, who died in England, was reburied here in 1871; in his celebrated Sepolcri he had written of the Santa Croce tombs as ‘urns of the strong, that kindle strong souls to great deeds’, and had thereby given rise to the secular view of the basilica as a Pantheon.

Today, the beautiful courtyard was my focus for this post. Santa Croce Basilica is absolutely beautiful in inside and is definitely worth visiting.

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