Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
- Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
- adult/child €3.50/free
- 9am-5.50pm Mon-Thu, 11am-5.30pm Fri, 9am-5pm Sat, 1-5pm Sun
Lonely Planet review for Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
Just south of the central train station, Stazione di Santa Maria Novella, this church was begun in the mid-13th century as the Dominican order's Florentine base. Although it was mostly completed by 1360, work on the facade and embellishment of the interior continued well into the 15th century.
The lower section of the green-and-white marble facade is transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, while the upper section and the main doorway were designed by Leon Battista Alberti and completed between 1456 and 1470.
The interior is full of artistic masterpieces. As you enter, look straight ahead and you will see Masaccio's superb fresco Trinity (1424-25), one of the first artworks to use the then newly discovered techniques of perspective and proportion. Close by, hanging in the nave, is a luminous painted Crucifix by Giotto (c 1290).
The first chapel to the right of the altar, Cappella di Filippo Strozzi, features spirited late 15th-century frescoes by Filippino Lippi (son of Fra' Filippo Lippi) depicting the lives of St John the Evangelist and St Philip the Apostle. Behind the main altar itself are the highlights of the interior - Domenico Ghirlandaio's series of frescoes in the Sanctuary. Relating the lives of the Virgin Mary, St John the Baptist and others, these vibrant frescoes were painted in the late 15th century and are notable for their depiction of Florentine life during the Renaissance. They feature portraits of Ghirlandaio's contemporaries and members of the Tornabuoni family, who commissioned them. To the far left of the altar is the Cappella Strozzi, covered in wonderful frescoes by Narno di Cione; the fine altarpiece here was painted by his brother Andrea, better known as Andrea Orcagna.