The Basilica di Santo Spirito is one of the most predominant examples of Early Renaissance architecture in Florence. Located in the Oltrarno quarter, meaning beyond the Arno, its bare facade and interesting shape is one of the unmistakable images of the neighborhood. The current church was commissioned as a gift from the Signoria of Florence to replace an existing Augustinian church and convent.
The design of the Basilica is the last masterpiece of architect, Filippo Brunelleschi. Just two years into the project Brunelleschi died and construction of the church was carried on by his colleagues Antonio Manetti, Giovanni da Gaiole, and Salvi d’Andrea. D’Andrea was responsible for the construction of the cupola, following the original designs from Brunelleschi. The last remanants of the original Augustinian church were destroyed by a fire in 1471.
Given its simple facade, the interior of the church is quite ornately decorated. The church has thirty-eight side chapels, the most significant being the Bini-Capponi Chapel which houses the St. Monica Establishing the Rule of the Augustinian Nuns painting by Francesco Botticini.
Off to the left-hand side of the church is the octagonal sacristy which now houses Michelangelo’s wooden crucifix. One of his earliest works, he scultped the cross at age 17 years, as a gift to church. It was originally placed over the high altar. There is a small fee of €2 to get into the sacristy. Once you have paid make sure you also go into the cloisters. There is an immediate sense of tranqulity as you step into the garden which has a well at its center and seasonal flowers in bloom.
Make sure you look into the various chapels facing the cloister. It is hard to find much information about them, but there are some surprising frescoes and artworks to be found inside.
Monday to Saturday from 10am – 1pm & 3pm – 6pm
Sundays and religious holidays from 11:30am – 1:30pm & 3pm – 6pm
Price: Free entry!
How To Get There