One of the “great basilicas” in Florence, Santa Croce is a point of reference of the Franciscan order. Giotto painted some of his great masterpieces here and the French writer Stendhal experienced that profound artistic agitation that has been known since then as the “Stendhal syndrome”. The basilica contains the monumental sepulchres of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.
The monumental complex of Santa Croce – which includes the Basilica, the Pazzi Chapel, the cloisters, the Last Supper and the convent spaces – preserves an immense artistic heritage including the splendid paintings by Giotto, with frescoes dedicated to the figure of St. Francis, Vasari’s Last Supper and numerous Renaissance altarpieces.
Completed in 1320, the Franciscan church of Santa Croce quickly became the sacred place that noble and illustrious Florentines yearned to have as their final resting place: Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Niccolò Macchiavelli, Ugo Foscolo and Vittorio Alfieri, to mention just a few. Illustrious personalities, each associated with the illustrious sculptors who were responsible for creating their sepulchres, among whom the names of Giorgio Vasari and Antonio Canova stand out.
Finally, don’t miss a visit to the Bell Tower, the Sacristy with the famous Crucifix of Cimabue and the Medici Chapel, the Cloisters, the Pazzi Chapel, the Museum and the Basement. The splendid basilica faces onto the large Piazza Santa Croce with a number of prestigious residences, including Palazzo Cocchi Serristori and Palazzo dell’Antella. This is one of the main squares of the historic centre of Florence and over time it has become one of the nerve centres of Florentine cultural and commercial life. It has long been the theatre for the city’s festivals, meetings and celebrations, and in the 15th century, it hosted jousts and tournaments on horseback.
Since the end of the 15th century, the matches of Calcio Storico Fiorentino have been held in the square and a marble circle has been placed on both Palazzo dell’Antella and the building opposite to indicate the half-way line of the pitch.
On 14 May 1865, on the occasion of the fifth centenary of poet Dante Alighieri’s birth, a monument dedicated to him was positioned in the centre of the square, but the monument has been removed and moved to its current position on the parvis of the church to enable the Calcio in Costume matches to take place.