One of Filippo Brunelleschi's masterpieces of architecture, this 15th-century church doesn't look like much from the outside (no true facade was ever built), but the interior is a marvelous High Renaissance space -- an expansive landscape of proportion and mathematics worked out in classic Brunelleschi style, with coffered vaulting, tall columns, and the stacked perspective of arched arcading. Good late-Renaissance and baroque paintings are scattered throughout, but the best stuff lies up in the transepts and in the east end, surrounding the extravagant baroque altar with a ciborium inlaid in pietre dure around 1607.
The right transept begins with a Crucifixion by Francesco Curradi. Against the back wall of the transept, the first chapel holds an early-15th-century Madonna del Soccorso of uncertain authorship. Two chapels down is one of Filippino Lippi's best works, a Madonna and Child with Saints and Donors. The background seen through the classical arches was painted with an almost Flemish exacting detail. In the east end of the church, the center two chapels against the back wall contain Alessandro Allori altarpieces: The Martyred Saints (1574), on the right, has a predella view of what the Palazzo Pitti looked like before its enlargement; and the Christ and the Adulteress, on the left, is extremely advanced in style, already almost a work of the late baroque. In the left transept, the first chapel on the right side is a late-15th-century Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints. Next to this is the highly skilled St. Monica and Augustinian Nuns, an almost monochrome work of black and pale yellow, faintly disturbing in its eerie monotony and perfection of composition. It's now usually attributed to the enigmatic Andrea del Verrocchio, one-time master of Leonardo da Vinci.
The famed piazza outside is one of the focal points of the Oltrarno, shaded by trees and lined with trendy cafes that see some bar action in the evenings. It's not quite the pleasant hangout it once was, however -- especially since the heroin set moved in a few years ago, making it a less than desirable place to be after midnight (though early evening is still fine). Stop by Bar Ricci at no. 9r, where more than 300 facade designs for faceless Santo Spirito line the walls, the product of a fun-loving contest the bar held in 1980.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010
- tel: 055-210-030
- Piazza Santo Spirito
- Piazza Santo Spirito
- Florence, Tuscany
- Daily 8am-noon; Thurs-Tues 4-6pm
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