A Look Inside Santa Maria Novella (the church, not the train station)

Ciao Readers!

Today we take our first look inside Santa Maria Novella Church.  It’s taken us this long because the last time we went to visit we were put off by the 5.50 euro ticket price, as I feel that entry into churches should be free (as they mostly are in Italy).  However, after reading the community’s website in Italian, I learned that residents of Florence enter for free.  So, with our official letters of residency in tow (a completely separate process than the Italian immigration/permesso process I have mentioned), in we went!  (After entering and realizing how big the complex is and that part of it is considered a museum, I understood the entrance price better.)

Santa Maria Novella (started in the 1200’s) is fairly well known as it is right across the street from the main train station which shares its name.  Therefore, most visitors to Florence have at least seen it from the outside (pics below of the front facade and folks outside the walls – and yes, it IS raining!).  I know I have often said how amazing the churches all over Europe are – and this one is no exception.  As a matter of fact, it is even more amazing because not only is there an enormous church decorated to the hilt, but an entire complex, complete with a cloister, smaller chapels and lots of tombs.  There is so much art and detail and interesting tombs that you could literally spend days exploring every nook and cranny of the complex.   There are the famous pieces – like Giotto’s Crucifix (1288-1289) and another Crucifix by Brunelleschi (1410 – 1415).  But even the not-so-famous stuff is pretty cool.  There are frescoes all along the walls in the cloister, as well as frescoes and tile work and more in all of the little prayer spaces and chapels throughout.  It’s pretty overwhelming how much work went into this place!  (Every time we see one of these churches we always marvel at how it was all accomplished before the days of forklifts and electric drills!)

Here, take a look inside yourself:

Thank you for coming along and have a wonderful weekend!

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you for your excellent photos of this church. Now, I want to get back to Florence again!

  2. richdad

     /  March 21, 2013

    Thanks for the pics Hope. I’ve spent hours hanging out in the piazza in front of the church but have never been inside (because of the admission fee). After reading your review, it’s definitely on my list now. A ticket is not much more than a gelato at Vivoli after all! Buona serata. Ric

    • Sure! Glad to know it’s not just me! There’s a note in the flier I picked up inside that a worshiper will not be turned away – of course this would only get one into the church itself.

  3. Ako

     /  March 21, 2013

    This is definitely on our “must do” list when in Florence!! Gorgeous photos!

  4. I really like these – I didn’t go and probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t on my museum pass but so glad to see these photos, especially after a few months have passed and I’m not feeling so inundated by cathedrals and religious art… Thanks for sharing; it was a great idea.

    • Thanks! The kids from TX that were here went to Santa Croce (another pay church) – waiting to hear what they thought – may have to check that one out as well.

  5. D

     /  March 22, 2013

    Duh. I have residency and never thought about going back to check the inside of Sta. Maria Novella! Thanks for the “reminder”! I really loved Santa Croce (also free to residents), and think you might, too. The monuments dedicated Galileo, Machiavelli etc are worth seeing alone, IMO. It’s especially nice in good weather for the cortile at the end. Also check if the Scuola del Cuoio is open when you go! I never really understand (or find) their hours. Once I got lucky, but a few times taking people there, we weren’t so lucky. Boh.

    • I didn’t know Santa Croce was free w/residency – thanks – now will definitely go check it out this weekend!

      • D

         /  March 22, 2013

        Most (or all) of the state museums, like Uffizi, I Boboli etc. I keep wishing there would be a discount for Palazzo Strozzi shows, but oh well! Watch for certain offers, sometimes Bardini etc are free too. I missed the last time.

      • Do you know if you have to wait in line? – if so, probably worth another Uffizi card!

    • Hey, anything else free to residents I should know about?

      • D

         /  March 22, 2013

        P.S. Another church I actually just discovered the interior of is on Via Tornabuoni. It’s always free, but I think it’s worth a look. I thought it was sooooo beautiful, inside and out and an interesting work of baroque style. The facade reminds me of the ex-Tribunale in Piazza San Firenze. Anyway, it’s called Chiesa di Santi Michele e Gaetano. Just a suggestion.🙂

      • D

         /  March 23, 2013

        Hmmm, now that I am looking, I wonder if I only went to the Uffizi gratis on the special museum days for residents. I don’t see info about residents having free access (like Santa Croce or the Bobobli do) Might want to check on that.

      • No worries. Just back from Santa Croce – it was cool, but don’t want to blog about it yet because there are many similarities to SMN!

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