The Church of Santo Spirito in Florence, located in the square of the same name in the Oltrarno district, is recognisable by its peculiar, bare façade. Built between 1444 and 1488, it stands on the remains of a 13th century Augustinian convent destroyed by fire in 1471. It represents a clear break from the Gothic tradition in Florence, marking the beginning of a new conception of space.
The project was entrusted to Filippo Brunelleschi, who, however, died two years after work began and modifications to his design became numerous. The dome was built by Salvi d'Andrea, while the bell tower is the work of Baccio d'Agnolo. Anyone who has visited the cathedral in Siena, the cathedral in Pisa or San Lorenzo in Florence will notice certain connections between them, demonstrating Brunelleschi's cultural capacity. Unfortunately, some of the solutions devised by the architect were later disregarded, limiting the innovative scope originally conceived, based on completely original perspectives. However, the church is still a magnificence and the works of art it contains are definitely worth seeing.
The interior is intricately decorated with all kinds of artwork. In addition to the high altar (adorned with Giovanni Caccini's 17th-century canopy and openwork dome), there are no less than 38 side altars located in differently adorned chapels. In the right transept is the marble-clad De Rossi Chapel designed by Bernardo Buontalenti, containing a 14th-century wooden crucifix. The Nerli Chapel houses Filippino Lippi's Nerli Altarpiece, a Madonna and Child with Saints John, Martin and Catherine of Alexandria with a reproduction of the Florentine gate of San Frediano. On display in the sacristy is the wooden Crucifix carved by Michelangelo in 1492, when, at the age of 17, he was a guest in the convent of Santo Spirito, where he was able to dissect corpses from the convent hospital. By studying anatomy in depth, the artist was able to reproduce every detail of a human body, as evidenced by the crucifix.
Everyone can benefit from the new visit route, which includes the cloister under the steps to the left of the church façade. Inside the Renaissance architecture, a small door leads to the Refectory where the Three Suppers of Christ by Bernardo Poccetti are frescoed. One can admire the beautiful Bell Tower by Baccio d'Agnolo and access the Chapter House, which is also used as the headquarters of the Confraternity. The tour concludes with the Vestibule and the Sacristy, where Michelangelo's Crucifix, a splendid three-dimensional realisation of the early work of the great Renaissance sculptor, can be admired up close.