Church Santa Croce
The Church Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is very distinguishing and beautiful. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce. The sheer size of Santa Croce is tremendous with the side chapels along the cloisters also filled with great works of art.
Church Santa Croce is the primary Franciscan church in Florence and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the final resting place for many of the most famous Italians of history, such as Michelangelo, Foscolo, Machiavelli, Galileo, Rossini and Gentile. There is also a reserved place for Dante whose tomb is still in Ravenna.
The outside is beautiful and it has a similar style of the Duomo. Before walking inside the Church Santa Croce you will see a big blue six-point star, like Star of David. The reason behind that is the architect Niccolo Matas who designed the facade was Jewish. Near the entrance for this charming basilica is a tall beautiful statue of Dante. He was a major Italian poet of the middle ages. That's the side where you'll find the entrance to the church.
As you walk around the interior of the basilica you will notice water marks high on the walls. You can also see that some of the art has water damage that is yet to be repaired. There was a flood in 1966 and the water reached twenty feet in some places.
The entire church has beautiful painting and architectural details throughout from floor to ceiling to treasure. You can get up close to many statues, paintings and stained glass. All of it was just stunning. Cimabue's Crucifixion and other works of art by Orcangna and Settignano were just enchanting. The della Robbia ceramic work is extraordinary in the Pazzi Chapel; Filippo Brunelleschi designed it.
Around the sides of the basilica are the tombs of the famous artists and statesmen. Seeing the distinctive details adorning the catacombs made this church stand out.
As you leave the Church Santa Croce you walk through the Cloister. Not to be missed are the frescoes of Giotto. The frescoes are jaw dropping beautiful and I could of stayed there for hours just taking them in. The Cloisters are so peaceful. After that you will see the gift shop and then out into the refectory. There's a beautiful monument to Florence Nightingale, who was born in the city. There is also an adjacent leather school the friars founded to give orphans a chance to learn a trade. They sell purses, coats, wallets and a few other leather items.
Around the vicinity of the beautiful piazza you will find many shops. If you're interested in local artwork, you will also see many painters and artisans selling their merchandise.