The Basilica of Santa Croce , rebuilt the Franciscan Order in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio, is one of the largest churches officiated by the Franciscans and one of the greatest achievements of Gothic in Italy . Santa Croce is known as the Temple of Italian glories for the numerous tombs of illustrious Florentine and Tuscan located inside.
The definition goes back to I Seplolcri by Ugo Foscolo, as in a passage of the poem the author defines Florence:
“But more blessed in a temple that received
Serbs the Italian glories , “
( Tomb Of Ugo Foscolo , vv.180 et seq.)
Although it is a Catholic church, there are also graves of non-believers, as the same Foscolo . Among them, Michelangelo, but also Rossini, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei, who was not given a Christian burial until 1737 (95 years after his death) because of the Inquisition. There is also a monumental tomb of Dante, but it is empty.
The origin of the Franciscan settling goes back to when St. Francis of Assisi visited Florence in 1226-1228 with a group of his followers settled in the city, choosing an inhospitable area immediately outside the walls to settle. Here they built an oratory, to grow the community of monks, which was first enlarged and then, from 1252 , completely renovated. However, even the new church soon became inadequate so in 1294 it was decided to rebuild it from scratch, with a grand project drawn up probably by Arnolfo di Cambio.
The exterior of the church has a polychrome marble façade, added in 1863 and paid for by British benefactor Sir Francis Sloane. Each year the square is the scene of the famous Calcio Storico Fiorentino, a costumed re-enactment of an ancient medieval game.
Santa Croce certainly preserves within it a great heritage; Gaddi ‘s frescoes ( 1380) in the Cappella Maggiore, which tell the story of the Holy Cross , and beautiful frescoes by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels , showing scenes from the life of St. Francis and St. John the Evangelist. Note of particularly high relief, the Annunciation by Donatello is located on the wall of the right aisle . Also do not miss the funeral monument of Italian playwright Giovan Battista Niccolini to the left of the entrance, which is said to have inspired the Statue of Liberty.
The church of Santa Croce was heavily damaged in the 1966 flood. A plaque showing the highest level where the water came.
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