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I’d come to Basilica di Santa Maria del Santo Spirito to see a crucifix executed by a very young Michelangelo when he was rooming in the attached convent’s hospital and allowed access to deceased patients for self-taught anatomy lessons. He carved the crucifix for the church’s high altar in thanks, and the photos I’d seen were of a slender Christ - very different than the muscular figures the 17 year-old artist would produce later - notable for the lack of a loincloth that was standard in most executions. But the thing had been moved to a side chapel which was inexplicably blocked to visitors so I had to settle for a wander through the rest of the church.
It is a pretty basilica, though; the great Brunelleschi’s 15th-century design was not completed before his death but carried out to the letter by successive architects, and has 38 chapels with paintings by a few notable Florentine masters such as Filippino Lippi and Cosimo Rosselli. The elephant in the room is a Baroque-era baldachin that is rather too large and interrupts the graceful flow of the original plan.
Open roughly 9:30-12:30 and 4:00 - 5:30. Free
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Santo Spirito was founded in 1250 but received it present form in the 15th century, when it was built according to the design by Brunelleschi who had conceived it as a twin to San Lorenzo. The facade of the church was never finished , it is only a rough plastered wall. The dome was also designed by Brunelleschi, while the bell tower by Baccio d'Agnolo was added in 1503. The interior of the church, however, is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture. It is said that the Crucifix behind the high altar nay be an early work by Michelangelo. There are two fine cloisters in adjacent to the church, one of this built by Ammannati.
This is Brunelleschi's last work. This church has a very plain exterior which hides an extravagent interior. The church was redone by Bruneleschi in 1428 over the ruins of a 13th century convent.
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