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Santa Maria Nuova

Florence's Oldest Hospital and Sant'Egidio

Portico of Santa Maria Nuova

Florence’s oldest and busiest hospital, Santa Maria Nuova was founded in 1286 by the father of Dante’s Beatrice, Folco Portinari. Readers of Iris Origo’s The Merchant of Prato will recognize it as the work-place of the good notary, Ser Lapo Mazzei.

The portico of the hospital, by Bernardo Buontalenti, was finished in 1612. The hospital's church, Sant'Egidio entered under the portico, was completely redone in 1419 by Pope Martin V, and once held one of the most admired fresco cycles in Florence, painted by Alessio Baldovinetti, Domenico Veneziano and Andrea del Castagno, and now almost totally lost when the church was renovated in the 1500s, except for some fragments preserved in the Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia.

Buontalenti's Scalinata in Sant'Egidio

Most of the other great paintings in the church have since gone to the Uffizi, although there's still a Deposition by Alessandro Allori, an altar decorated in pietre dure and a totally charming little stair designed by Buontalenti.

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Piazza S. Maria Nuova, 1

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Mongolo1984, Creative Commons License, Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License