Facade view of the Santo Spirito church in Florence. Florence, Tuscany - Italy


Basilica di Santo Spirito

Top choice in Oltrarno

The facade of this Brunelleschi church, smart on Florence's most shabby-chic piazza, makes a striking backdrop to open-air concerts in summer. 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.

Filippino Lippi's poorly lit Madonna with Child and Saints (1493–94) is 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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Oltrarno attractions

1. Fondazione Salvatore Romano

0.02 MILES

For a change of pace from the Renaissance, head to this Gothic-style former refectory safeguarding an imposing wall fresco by Andrea Orcagna depicting the…

2. Casa Guidi

0.13 MILES

It was on the ground floor of 15th-century Palazzo Guidi, across from Palazzo Pitti, that Robert and Elizabeth Browning rented an apartment in 1847, a…

3. Tesoro dei Granduchi

0.15 MILES

Exquisite amber carvings, ivory miniatures, glittering tiaras and headpieces, silver pillboxes and various other gems and jewels are displayed in this…

4. Torre dei Marsili

0.15 MILES

Looming large above Ponte Vecchio is this rectangular, five-storey stone tower, built by the Marsili family as a status symbol in the 12th century. The…

5. Palazzo Pitti

0.17 MILES

Commissioned by banker Luca Pitti in 1458, this Renaissance palace was later bought by the Medici family. Over the centuries, it was a residence of the…

6. Museo della Moda e del Costume

0.17 MILES

Few visitors to Palazzo Pitti get as far as this Fashion and Costume Museum, host to various fashion-themed temporary exhibitions.

7. Ponte Santa Trinità

0.17 MILES

Composed of three elliptical arches of the utmost elegance – the first of their kind ever used in bridge construction – Ponte Santa Trinità was designed…

8. Galleria Palatina

0.18 MILES

Raphaels and Rubens vie for centre stage in the enviable collection of 16th- to 18th-century art amassed by the Medici and Lorraine dukes in Palazzo Pitti…