The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella was built at the arrival of the Dominican religious order in Florence, in the thirteenth century, in an area of open countryside at that time beyond the city walls (it would later be included in the last walled circuit of Florence, begun at the end of the century), in place of the older Santa Maria Inter Vineas (that meant between the vineyards).
The monastic complex included the church, the cloisters, the refectory and the monks' dormitories. It seems that even Dante studied in the convent with the Dominicans. The church has a Gothic plan, but has undergone Renaissance renovations following the Counter-Reformation of the Church of Rome led by Vasari: the walls have aedicules in sandstone with altars of the second half of the 16th century, the transept is instead characterized by the noble chapels, the most interesting of which are those of the families of Tornabuoni, decorated with a cycle of frescoes dedicated to the Virgin and St. John the Baptist painted by Ghirlandaio around 1580, Strozzi, Rucellai and Gondi.
The venerable Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, so named by Boccaccio in a passage of the Decameron, strikes for its Renaissance perfection, thanks to the majestic facade by Leon Battista Alberti. The church has however a strong predominance of Gothic style. Today it is one of the most appreciated architectures of the city. The Dominican friars are still present in Santa Maria Novella.
The two marble obelisks at the center of the square symbolized the goal of the Palio, which consisted of a race of carriages that circled around two pyramidal structures. The four quarters of Florence took part in it with cheerful competition.
During our guided tour we will have the confirmation that in Florence even the lesser known places hide a great charm. It is possible to reach one of them by walking near the basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
This is the Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella: despite its little fame, this is the oldest pharmacy in the world.
Through an ancient door we are catapulted back to the fourteenth century, a time characterized by luxury and opulence. It is possible to buy potions of all kinds, often miraculous and even some say magical. Entering the first room our sense of smell will be pervaded by a colorful atmosphere of sweet scents.
Among the most famous pharmaceutical products we can find the Acqua di Santa Maria Novella, which in ancient times was called Acqua Antisterica, the Elisir mediceo and the red liqueur Alkermes.
Click here for more information about the Church of Santa Maria Novella private guided tour
Available days: Everyday
Bookable Starting Time: From 9:00 am to 04:00 pm
Duration: 3 hours
All, upon reservation
Adult rate: The rate depends on the number of people. CALCULATE YOUR OWN RATE!
Child rate: From 6 to 17 years and with identification card. Insert the number of people.
Up to 5 years for free
Meeting Point: in front of the Church Santa Maria Novella, Piazza Santa Maria Novella