A place steeped in history, art and sport
Piazza Santa Croce was created to contain the crowds of worshipers listening to the Franciscan friars’ sermons and it was inamed after the basilica of the same name, famous not only for its frescoes by Giotto and sculptures by Canova, but also because it is the burial place of Michelangelo, Galilei, Machiavelli and Foscolo.
Its regular shape made it the ideal place to host knightly jousts and popular competitions, like Florentine Historical Football, which is still held there every June. In the past, the playing area was delimited by wooden barriers, but these were removed in the late 18th century in favour of the pillars and benches made of pietra serena still present today.
The Pazzi Chapel, a jewel of Renaissance architecture by Brunelleschi is to the right of the basilica, preceded by a 14th-century cloister. On the left is the monument dedicated to Dante Alighieri by Enrico Pazzi, erected in 1865 for Dante’s 500th anniversary.
Buildings facing the square include Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori by Giuliano da Sangallo, Lorenzo il Magnifico’s trusted architect, and Palazzo dell’Antella, whose windows get closer and closer as they approach Santa Croce, giving the illusion of greater perspective. Among the decorative elements of the façade in the fourth panel from the left, a copy of Caravaggio’s Sleeping Cupid is visible.