Santa Maria Novella unveiled
The Santa Maria Novella Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence as well as one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Tuscany, and yet, it is too often neglected by tourists, drawn to more famous places of interest.
Do not make this mistake. You will be missing out on so much.
For starters, the facade is the oldest of all the churches in Florence. The lower part, in Romanesque-Gothic style, was executed by a Dominican architect, Fra Jacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, while the upper part was completed 100 years later in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti.
The characteristic S-curved volutes Alberti designed for the facade were an absolute innovation and from that moment on, all the churches with a sloping roof will use those same volutes.
The convent was acquired in 1221 by Dominican friars, near a pre-existent church dedicated to Santa Maria della Vergine, located just outside Florence's medieval walls. The work for the new church (Novella) begun in 1279.
A gorgeous example of harmonic proportions on the outside, the Santa Maria Novella Church is just as magnificent on the inside, with its large central nave sided by two aisles and its beautiful cloisters.
The basilica holds artworks of exceptional value as well. On the far wall, as you enter the church from the side door, you will see Masaccio’s Trinità, one of the earliest paintings to show a masterly use of perspective and depicting the Virgin Mary as a grown woman, not a young a girl.
The pulpit, commissioned by the Rucellai family in 1443 and designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, is the very same from which came the first attack on Galileo Galilei, while hanging on the central nave you’ll find Giotto’s Crucifix, an early work of the master.
As you reach the altar it gets hard not to remain impressed by the beauty of the fresco cycles in the Tornabuoni and Strozzi Chapels, respectively by Domenico Girlandaio and Filippino Lippi, not to mention the spectacular stained glass windows of the apse.
If you manage to look away from the frescoes you can go to admire the so-called Chiostro Verde (Green Cloister), which takes its name from frescoes originally painted in "green clay" such as the Flood and the Sacrifice of Noah Paolo Uccello, and then see the Spanish Chapel featuring other beautiful frescoes.
It does not end here, there would be so many things to say about the Santa Maria Novella complex, but words won’t be enough to describe the beauty of this place. You will have to see for yourselves!