Basilica di Santo Spirito

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

The facade of this Brunelleschi church, smart on Florence's most shabby-chic piazza, is most striking in summer when it forms an atmospheric backdrop to open-air concerts and a buzzing social scene. Inside, the basilica's length is lined with 38 semicircular chapels (covered with a plain wall in the 1960s), and a colonnade of grey pietra forte Corinthian columns injects monumental grandeur.

Artworks to look for include Domenico di Zanobi's Madonna of the Relief (1485) in the Cappella Velutti , in which the Madonna wards off a little red devil with a club, and Filippino Lippi's poorly lit Madonna with Child and Saints (1493-94) in the Cappella Nerli in the right transept.

The main altar, beneath the central dome, is a voluptuous baroque flourish, rather out of place in Brunelleschi's characteristically spare interior.

Don't miss the door next to Capella Segni in the left aisle leading to the sacristy , where you'll find a poignant wooden crucifix attributed by some experts to Michelangelo. Michelangelo used to visit the hospital inside the neighbouring monastery at night to study the anatomy of corpses yet to be buried, hence his donation of the exquisitely sculptured Christ, or so the story goes.