Chiesa d'Ognissanti

Santa Maria Novella

Stroll along Borgo d'Ognissanti from Piazza Carlo Goldoni towards ancient city gate Porta al Prato, past antiques shops and designer boutiques, to reach this 13th-century church, built as part of a Benedictine monastery. Its highlight is Domenico Ghirlandaio's fresco of the Madonna della Misericordia protecting members of the Vespucci family, the church's main patrons. Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine navigator who gave his name to the American continent, is supposed to be the young boy whose head peeks between the Madonna and the old man.

Also here are a Crucifixion by Taddeo Gaddi in the sacristy, and between the third and fourth altars, Ghirlandaio's St Jerome (1480) and the pensive St Augustine (1480) by Botticelli, who is buried in the church. The early-Renaissance artist had requested to be buried at the feet of Simonetta Vespucci, the married woman whom he was said to be in love with and who served as a model for one of his greatest masterpieces, Primavera (Spring). Look for the simple round tombstone marked ‘Sandro Filipepi’ in the south transept. Botticelli grew up in a house on the same street.

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