Church of Santa Maria Novella : Michelin's recommendations
From a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, taken over in the mid-13C, the Dominicans created the sumptuous Santa Maria Novella (1279-1360). At the request of the rich Rucellai familly, Leo Alberti added the marble façade between 1458 and 1470, adapting the new Renaissance style, particularly in the marquetry effect of the lower register nave funereal recesses and two elegant voluted consoles using the omnipresent combination of circular, semicircular and square patterns, particularly in the frieze which illustrate the Rucellai coat of arms, a sail. The interior is vast, similar to Cistercian churches: a large central nave is separated from the aisles by gradually diminishing black and white archstones to amplify the perspective. The austerity of the structure forms a contrast with the wealth of decoration making this one of Florence's richest church museums: on the right is the Strozzi Chapel decorated by Filippino Lippi; on the left a superb Crucifix by Brunelleschi in the Gondi Chapel and, in the raised chapel, frescoes and a polyptych by the Orcagna brothers; in the sacristy are a Crucifix by Giotto and a lavabo by Della Robia and in the middle of the left aisle is the famous Trinity with an innovative perspective by Masaccio. In the sanctuary are the dazzling frescoes by Ghirlandaio illustrating the Life of the Virgin Mary (left side) and the Life of St John the Baptist (right side) where the artist has painted figures illustrating religious and high society life in Florence at that time.
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