The Great Piazzas of Florence-Piazza Santa Croce

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, ItalyPiazza Santa Croce, located a little distance away from most of the main tourist attractions, yet still within walking distance, was built during the Middle Ages, in the 13th-14th century.  It gets its name from the Franciscan Church located at the East side of the piazza which is one of the best examples of Florentine Gothic architecture in the city.  The piazza is a very large rectangular space and because it does not get shaded from the buildings is one of the warmest locations in Florence.  It is great in the winter, but can be blazing hot in the summer.  There are beautiful palaces along the sides, as well as vendors of leather and jewelry.

Tomb of Michelangelo, Florence ItalyThe Basilica of Santa Croce is one of my top sites to see in Florence, and although it is overshadowed by the Duomo, the church itself contains more interesting pieces of art as well as the tombs of some great Italians such as Michelangelo, Ghiberti, Galilio, and Machiavelli.  Because of these famous Italians along with many others, the church is sometimes called The Temple of the Italian Glories.   Artists on display in this Basilica are Brunelleschi, who created a domed chapel in the cloisters, Luca della Robbia, Taddeo Gaddi, and Cimabue.  Giotto painted several large frescoes within the 16 chapels. Much of the Basilica as well as the art within were damaged by the great flood of 1966, but it has been restored and replaced within the church.

The construction of the church began in 1294 and the basilica was consecrated in 1442.  A beautiful statue of Dante adorns the left side of the church.  The two famous historic palaces located in the piazza are Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori, which today is the headquarters of Quarter 1 in Florence, and Palazzo dell’Antella painted with a beautiful façade by Giovanni San Giovanni, painted in 1620.

Every year, the piazza hosts the Calcio Fiorentino, a historic event of football played out on the piazza.  This event occurs in June every year and sod is laid in the piazza and each Quartiere dons their uniforms to compete.  Because of the size of the piazza, many sporting events have taken place over the centuries in this Piazza.  This year’s calico matches will take place on June 18, 19, and 24th.

Off of Piazza Santa Croce, you will find the street via Torte which leads to via della Stinche and one of the best gelato shops in Florence, Vivoli.  Vivoli is closed on Monday, and one slight drawback is that they only sell gelato in cups, no cones.  Try the chocolate fondente with cocco, for a frozen “Mounds bar” like treat!

Streets of Florence, ItalyWhile on Piazza Santa Croce, you will find street vendors and entertainers, and for a bite to eat, try Boccadama.  Boccadama is opened 11-3 and 6:30-10:30.  There is outside dining in warm weather.  You will find traditional Tuscan fare at this hot spot in Florence.

There is a renowned leather school n the back of the basilica and a beautiful cloistered garden on the outside of the church.  Admission price to see the Basilica is only 5 euro.  I recommend the audio guide for an additional 5 euro to give you all the details that you need to understand the altars and the artwork. For more information on Florence sites, visit

Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

Other articles by

Guest Post By: Karen Mills

Have you traveled to Florence? Visited other parts of Italy? Do you have any advice or recommendations for our readers?

Share your feedback in the comment section below



Speak Your Mind


Plugin from the creators of iPhone :: More at Plulz Wordpress Plugins