Patrons and Saints

The Church and Portraits of Florentine Notables

Duration: 3 hrs

Sites visited: Santa Maria Novella*, Santa Trinità, Santo Spirito
Price for  1-4pax: €225
Additional price for headsets from 5-10 pax: €30

*Entry & reservation fees: not included
NB.Churches require a dresscode. Please dress appropriately with covered shoulders and knees.

Patrons & Saints

Imagine a world before cameras… What makes this tour interesting is that you will be looking at portraits of rich and prominent figures of the past and their need of leaving tangible and colourful traces of their existence through their religious and cultural outlook. In Santa Maria Novella,  we find examples of the magnificent patronage of the Tornabuoni and Ruccellai families with the works of revolutionary artists: Masaccio, Domenico del Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi. In Santa Trinità, we find images of “contemporary” Florence then, members of their family and a portrait of the man they worked for, Lorenzo The Magnificent. As we cross the bridge to visit Santo Spirito on the Oltrarno, we find other chapels of prominent Florentine families. This is also where Michelangelo studies anatomy and where his gift of a wooden Crucifix hangs.

Santa Maria Novella established by the Dominican Order in the early 13th century will go through various transformations in function and dimension through time.

This gothic church allows for an interesting insight into the artistic, social and cultural conventions of the Florence of the 15th century. The elegant and proportioned facade designed by Leon Battista Alberti for Giovanni Rucellai invites the curious to explore inside and experience the patronage of the wealthy and influential families of Florence and the works of their innovative artists. In Masaccio’s revolutionary Trinity we find the use of geometrical perspective. In Giovanni Tornabuoni’s chapel decorated with an intriguing cycle of frescoes by Domenico del Ghirlandaio, the magnificent portraits of family members and notables of Florence give us insight on social and cultural ideals of those times. The chapel of Filippo Strozzi, another family rival and ally through marriage to the Medici, is decorated with vibrant colours and dynamic scenes by Filippino Lippi.

We then visit the Church of Santa Trinità to admire more frescoes by Ghirlandaio in the Sassetti Chapel. Here we find images of Florence in the late 15th century, Piazza della Signoria and Piazza Santa Trinità, and prominent Florentine figures, members of the Sassetti family and Lorenzo dei Medici and his sons. Santa Trinità also allows us to understand the difficulties of making frescoes and the challenge of their conservation.

Our last stop, the fascinating and elegant Santo Spirito on the Oltrarno, the other side of the river. The Augustinian complex sees its first development in the 1250s, however the church we enter today was consecrated in 1481 and is based on an initial project of Filippo Brunelleschi. Inside we find a unique collection of 15th and 17th century chapels with their ornate altarpieces and paliotti, ornamental coverings for the altar.