Santa Maria Novella, Florence

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    Uccello in Santa Maria Novella's Cloister

    by brendareed Written Jun 14, 2014
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    As you walk into the cloisters, be on the lookout for the Uccello frescoes on your right side; they are not too far into the cloisters from the museum lobby. The primary one to look at is the Noah and the Ark scene, which was painted by Paolo Uccello in 1431. Much of the paint is gone (this happens when it is outside) and so the painting isn’t in great shape, has a green tint to it, and when I was there had tape going across the middle of it. But it is a great painting demonstrating perspective (Uccello was obsessed with perspective!).

    Starting from the left and moving right, you can see the entire flood scene. On the left the ark is large and there are people fighting outside it as the rain begins. As your eyes move towards the back (there’s that one point perspective again) you can see the storm raging, lightning striking, and trees bending. As you continue to look to the right, the storm ends, Noah releases the dove, and then gets out to survey the damage, including the birds pecking at the dead bodies. The people in the center of the painting show emotion as they try to stay afloat in barrels. Great fresco by a master of perspective.

    Another feature typical in Uccell's work is the black and white pattern (see the ring around the one person's neck). You'll find this pattern in most of Uccello's works. And the pattern goes very well with the Dominican theme of Santa Maria Novella, don't you think?

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    Santa Maria Novella Cloister & Renaissance Art

    by brendareed Updated Jun 14, 2014
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    The Green Cloister and museum at the Church of Santa Maria Novella are separate from the church and have a separate admission fee (January 2012 it was €2.70). If you are interested in art, this would be a good place to visit; if art isn’t really your interest, then I suggest skipping this one.

    The two primary things to see in the cloisters relating to Renaissance art would be the Spanish Chapel and the frescoes by Paolo Uccello in the walkways (see separate tip).

    You find the museum to the left of the church’s façade – head down the short steps and enter through the door. You pay right there and then you can proceed straight ahead to the cloister walkway.

    Now proceed to the end of the walkway and turn left. About mid-way down this part of the walkway will be the Spanish Chapel in the old Chapter House, which is also where St. Catherine of Siena was brought to demonstrate if she was a witch or not. Look around at the frescoes all over the walls, done by Andrea di Bonaiuto.

    On the right side you see scenes that include the Dominicans (in the black and white robes). Of note, the black and white dogs at the bottom of the fresco are attacking brown dogs (symbolic of the Franciscans). The overall scenes demonstrate the dogma of the Dominicans that would tell people the Dominicans’ role in salvation. You also see a Florence Cathedral with a dome – this was done before there was a dome or any vision of how to finish the cathedral. They just had faith that at some point someone would come around and know what to do.

    On the left side of the Chapter House the frescoes show The Triumph of Catholic Doctrine with a line up of famous saints, virtues, and men of the arts.

    I didn’t visit the museum part of this venue, but it is in the old refectory (dining hall) and displays old liturgical objects and some remains of frescoes from the Church.

    Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 9 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
    Holidays 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    Days of closure Closed on Friday, Sundays and New Year's Day, Easter, May 1, August 15 and Christmas

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    Masaccio's Holy Trinity at Santa Maria Novella

    by brendareed Updated Jun 14, 2014

    As you enter the church, you can immediately see Masaccio’s Holy Trinity across the room on the wall. This fresco (1426) is a very important painting in the development of Renaissance artwork; often considered the most perfect piece of early Renaissance art. First, look at the architecture painted in the fresco – doesn’t it give the feeling that the wall is going in…a three dimensional effect. The use of reds gives depth. Your eyes actually look towards the back because the classical pillars and ceiling of the painting give the feeling of added space to the room. Masaccio used this one point perspective in his Tribute in the Brancacci Chapel as well. It was Masaccio that Michelangelo said he was inspired by.

    But there’s more to this painting than the perspective. Look at the people in the lower part of the painting – the ones outside the little room created by the perspective. These are the patrons – the ones that paid for the work; they are the same size as the other figures in the painting – Christ, Mary, John the Evangelist – which demonstrates a new dignity of the wealthy that we don’t see in earlier works where the patron is small and rather insignificant to the piece. These figures create a large triangle within the work – Christ at the top point and the patrons the lower points. And within this triangle is a smaller triangle of Christ, Mary, and John. Also, the patrons are harmonious with the saints in the colors of their robes (note: the female patron’s robe is supposed to be the same color as Mary’s but it was later repainted, which explains its different color). If you look closely at Mary’s robe, you can see the faint grid pattern used by the artist to set up the painting.

    And the Holy Trinity is symbolized in the painting (hence the name of the piece) – Christ the Son; God the Father at the top, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove (the white collar-like thing between God and Christ).

    Finally, look at the skeleton below – just so that you don’t become complacent with your life, it reminds you, “I was once what you are now and what I am, you will become.”

    For an informative video about this magnificent and ground breaking painting, visit the Khan Academy website.

    Note: The photo used with this tip was taken from Wiki Commons and is in the common domain; therefore, it has no copyright. I did not take this photo.

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    Santa Maria Novella & Renaissance Art

    by brendareed Written Jun 14, 2014
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    Santa Maria Novella is one of the major churches in Florence. It is a Dominican church that is situated near the train station. From an art standpoint, it is a wonderful place, full of great pieces that are important to a study of Renaissance art. Note - I have few photos of the interior since photos of the great art works were not allowed.

    Imagine the hustle and bustle of Florence in the 13th and 14th centuries! Santa Maria Novella was one of four major construction projects within the city at that time (to include the cathedral) so artisans would have no problem finding work.

    To enter the church, go through the gate to the right of the church façade, follow the pathway that winds around the courtyard and then brings you back to the church halfway around. As of January 2012, admission was €3.50 and well worth the price for the quality of art within the church.

    As you enter the church, you can immediately see Masaccio’s Holy Trinity across the room on the wall. See my separate tip for this painting (it is special enough to demand its own tip!). Now turn around and look at the church itself (I had to get that painting discussion out of the way – it is one of my favorites and felt it should get top priority in this tip!). The black and white stripes indicate the Dominicans. You can see a visible altar, a new thing back when this was being built – the altar used to be behind a screen.

    As you are looking towards the altar from back near the Masaccio, look up at the crucifix hanging from the ceiling in the center of the church. This is a very famous Giotto work, devotional in nature, creating a very realistic Christ on the cross. It was painted on wood and is original to the church and considered one of their more valuable artworks.

    Heading up towards the altar, you will find several smaller chapels, including two commissioned by the wealthy Strozzi family. The chapel on the far left of the transept was painted by Orcagna and his brother, Nardo di Cione. The fresoes were inspired by Dante’s Inferno and show the Last Judgment where even the wealthy and churchmen find themselves in a hell that is compartmentalized according to their sins. This chapel was done after the plague and the altarpiece is a return to that former conservative pre-plague look.

    Turn back and head towards the altar, stopping just before at the chapel to the left of the altar. The crucifix hanging in this chapel was designed by Brunelleschi after bragging to Donatello that he could sculpt a more human and lifelike Christ than Donatello had done (Donatello’s Crucifix can be seen across town in Santa Croce Church). In the end, it was agreed that Brunelleschi’s Christ was indeed the more human looking of the two.

    The altar is decorated with frescoes by Ghirlandaio, who it is said gave his patrons their monies worth. The frescoes show the Tournabourni family (relatives to the Medici) portrayed in various scenes from the Virgin Mary’s life. Giovanni Tournabourni can be easily recognized by her full brocade dress in the scene Nativity of Mary (bottom right scene on left side of chapel). Notice anything else in this scene? Look at the red/pink architecture in the background at the top of the steps – looks like this artist was influenced by Masaccio’s Holy Trinity. The influence of Donatello’s choir stalls from the Cathedral (seen at the Cathedral Museum) can also be seen in this scene.

    On the top right scene on the right hand side, there is some work possibly by a very young Michelangelo – notice the naked male (one of Michelangelo’s trademarks) and in a pose reminiscent of Masaccio’s Tribute.

    Beside the altar on the right is the second Strozzi Chapel, done by Filippino Lippi on the lives of St. John and St. Philip.

    Before you walk away from the church, be sure to look at the façade on the front. This façade was designed by Alberti, who had to work around tombs that were already in the front of the building (the brown doors). This façade is classically influenced and it geometrically designed.

    There is more to see at Santa Maria Novella; these tips only highlight the Renaissance works. I have a separate tip for the Green Cloister and Museum of the church, which is worth a visit as well (it is a separate fee as it is connected with the church’s museum).

    Open weekdays 9 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
    Fridays 11 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
    Saturdays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Sundays and religious holidays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

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    A Dominican Delight.

    by JoostvandenVondel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Santa Maria Novella, Facade
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    Even if you are not planning an extensive stay in Florence, please DO stop in this beautiful basilica located just across from the railway station also called Santa Maria Novella.

    I remember crossing the piazza in the blistering sun only to be relieved to enter the church via its cloister gate just to the left of the main church building. Once through the cloister garden, you step into a magnificent building, home church of the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers) in Florence.

    Construction on the basilica began about 1246 and was finished about 1360. However, Santa Maria Novella's striking black and white marble facade, commissioned by Giovanni di Paolo Rucellai, a local textile merchant, was added later (1456-1470) designed by Leone Battista Alberti. Identified as a polymath, this truly 'Renaissance Man' attempted to incorporate the ideals of humanist architecture into the existing medieval part of the facade, with what I believe, is great success.

    Alberti constructed a broad frieze (wide central section part of an entablature which rests upon columns) decorated with squares; he also is responsible for the detail above the frieze, including the four white-green pilasters and a round window, crowned by a pediment (the triangular section found above the horizontal structure - on this basilica, above the four top columns and their entablature) with the Dominican solar emblem, and flanked on both sides by enormous S-curved volutes (the spiral scroll-like ornaments). The four columns with Corinthian capitals on the lower part of the facade were also added. The pediment and the frieze are inspired by the antiquity, but the S-curved scrolls in the upper part were considered new and without precedent in antiquity. The scrolls (or variations of them), which are found in churches all over Italy and also wider afield, all find their origin here in the design of this church.

    The interior is a celebration of chapels containing precious works of art including The Holy Trinity by Masaccio and the exquisit frescoes in the Spanish Chapel. Once again, I would highly recommend a visit to this church. For art and architectural lovers, it is a true delight, and for the young backpacker, even their tired souls will be uplifted after a visit here! More information about the works of art to be seen in the complex, can be found in the lovely website below. Enjoy!

    Church of Santa Maria Novella

    WEEKLY: 9am - 5pm Friday: 1pm - 5pm
    HOLIDAY: 1pm - 5pm
    ENTRANCE: € 2,50.

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    LEFT LUGGAGE

    by DAO Updated Mar 28, 2011

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    Fancy a stop in Florence for a day trip? Maybe taking the train between Rome and Venice? You can leave the bas at Left Luggage in the Station. As you come off the train the Deposito Bagagli is to your left. They are open from 6am to Midnight.

    The cost is:

    Left luggage fares IN Euros is (for each bag):
    • 3.80 for the first 5 hours
    • 0.60/hour from 6th to 12th hour
    • 0.20 for any additional hour
    There is a website for the station, but it is a nightmare:

    http://www.firenzesantamarianovella.it/pagine.cfm?cont=mappasito&lang=en

    Click on Left Luggage and a map comes up.

    This service is EXPENSIVE, but quick and easy. You can negotiate with a nearby hotel to leave it cheaper. We did this in Rome for 2 Euros for the whole day. Does require some negotiation and a willingness by a hotel.

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    The Chapels of Santa Maria Novella

    by Jefie Updated Jun 29, 2010

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    Santa Maria Novella Basilica in Florence

    Located near the city's main train station, Santa Maria Novella is the oldest basilica in Florence. Its construction began in 1279 and ended in 1360, several decades before the Duomo and Santa Croce were completed. Even though the latter two churches are more popular with visitors, Santa Maria Novella is also worth visiting, especially for the amazing art treasures hidden in its chapels. Several of the city's most influential artists were commissioned by wealthy citizens to decorate the basilica and, in some cases, work continued until the 16th century. I thought the Tornabuoni Chapel, which contains Ghirlandaio's depictions of the lives of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, was particularly impressive. Another work of art worth seeing at Santa Maria Novella is Masaccio's "Holy Trinity", famous for its early use of perspective and "trompe l’oeil" techniques. It's also interesting to know that the same kind of "trompe l’oeil" technique was used for the construction of the church; indeed, as you get closer to the back of the church, the nave's pillars are set slightly further apart, which gives the impression that the 100 m long nave is even longer.

    Admission to Santa Maria Novella costs 5 Euros. Entrance is through a side door that actually leads to the basilica's old cemetery. You should also make sure once you're done visiting the church to take a few minutes to walk around its lively piazza. Piazza di Santa Maria Novella was built at the same time as the basilica, and from the very beginning it was - and still is - used for different celebrations and festivities. For example, Amerigo Vespucci's return from America was celebrated there, and in the 16th century, when Cosimo I de Medici decided to reintroduce the concept of Roman chariot races in Florence, the races took place at this piazza around the large obelisks (sculpted by Giambologna) that can still be seen today.

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    Near Santa Maria Novella station

    by lina112 Updated Nov 27, 2008

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    The Church of Santa Maria Novella was built in the 13th century according to the wishes of the Dominican monks. The façade of this church is built in the Gothic-Romanesque style, with white and green marble. Among the most important works of art inside are the frescoes by Masaccio portraying the Holy Trinity, the Crucifix by Brunelleschi and the one by Giotto.

    Ticket: 2.50 euros

    La iglesia de Santa Maria Novella fue construida en el siglo XIII de acuerdo con los deseos de los monjes dominicanos. La fachada de estilo gótico romano está hecha de marmol blanco y verde. Entre las obras de arte mas importantes que se encuentran en su interior destacan los frescos la santa trinidad de Masaccio, la crucifixión de Brunelleschi y la de Giotto.

    Entrada: 2.50 euros

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    Santa Maria Novella Church

    by xiquinho Written Jan 2, 2008

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    One of the first great Florentine churches, Santa Maria Novella was built between the 13th and 14th centuries, and ranks among the city's most attractive buildings. The ornate black and white marble facade, completed in the 1400s and resembling intricate mosaicwork, is the church's most immediately appealing feature, but the interior, like many of the city's institutions, serves as a repository for numerous works of art. Arguably most significant among these - at least for those interested in the history of art - is Masaccio's Trinity, one of the first paintings to employ the use of perspective, and therefore one of the great cornerstones of the Renaissance.

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    Beauty on the outer reaches of the centre

    by mikey_e Written Aug 21, 2007

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    Basilica di Santa Maria Novella
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    The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella was completed (almost) in 1360, although some of the work continued on into the 15th century. The façade is a transition, as you look up toward the sky, from Romanesque to Gothic and has the distinctive white and green patterning of Tuscan Romanesque. Many of the frescoes and artwork have been revitalized by the recent restoration works. A chapel by the altar contains a painted crucifix by Brunelleschi (the artisan responsible for the completion of the Duomo) and the famous green cloisters, together with a museum, are located just outside the entrance to the Basilica.

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    Santa Maria Novella

    by leffe3 Written May 29, 2007

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    Close to the main railway station, this could be the first of the great churches/monuments that most tourists see (although chances are its not). Clad in the white (from Cararra) and green (from Prato) marble similar to the Duomo.

    Begun in the 11th century, the exterior is essentially a mix of 14th century ground floor with 15th century upper storey, with the avelli arcade (burial vaults) running round the cemetery.

    Interetsing though it is, its the extraordinary OTT interior, the clever architectural deisgn of decreasing he distance between the central columns the closer they get to the altar, making the nave look longer than it actually is, along with Masaccio's 'The Trinity' fresco and early use of (successful) perspective and classical proportion. But if longer for more classical Italian art fix, then Ghirlandaio's altar pics are worth checking out, there's Filipino Lippi's frescoes and there's even a Brunelleschi 'Crucifix'.

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    Santa Maria Novella

    by viddra Written May 21, 2007
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    This church was built in the 13th century with white and green marble.

    Important works of art inside are the frescoes by Masaccio portraying the Holy Trinity (1427), the Crucifix by Brunelleschi and the one by Giotto.

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    Santa Maria Novella

    by croisbeauty Updated Sep 20, 2005

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    Santa Maria Novella
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    Santa Maria Novella is one of the most attractive churches of Firenze. Ir was built in the 13th and 14th centuries by Sisto da Firenze and Ristoro da Campi and finished only in 1348 by Jacopo Talenti. The bell-tower in Romanesque Gothic style was added in 1330. The marvelous front facade was remade between 1456 and 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti, who designed the portal and the wall above it. In adjacent to the church there is the old cemetery.
    The interior of this one nave and two aisles church is stunning, rich of splendid chapels adorned by the works of leading artists of the age. Worth of visiting are two adjacent cloisters, Small Cloister of the Dead in Romanesque style with number of tomb slabs and the Great Cloister with over fifty arches, completely frescoed by the greatest Fiorentine painters of the 15th and 16th centuries.

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    Santa Maria Novella

    by meaganelizabeth Written Aug 10, 2005

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    One of the most beautiful churches, containing many important peices of artwork. The facade is beautiful, but the gardens and the interior are really special. They allowed me to sit and paint here for several hours each day. Less crowded and loud than other churches. Take pictures here, because they all look so romantic!
    In this square outside, there are many gypsies. I never understood why, so just be careful.

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    Santa Maria Novella

    by Willettsworld Written Jul 12, 2005

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    The church of Santa Maria Novella was built by the Dominicans between 1279 and 1357. The lower Romanesque part of the facade was incorporated into one based on Classical proportions by the pioneering Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti in 1456-70. The Gothic interior contains superb frescoes including Masaccio's "Trinity".

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