This is a preview of the content in our Florence Art & Culture app. Get the app to:
  • Read offline
  • Remove ads
  • Access all content
  • Use the in-app Map to find sites, and add custom locations (your hotel...)
  • Build a list of your own favourites
  • Search the contents with full-text search functionality
  • ... and more!
iOS App Store Google Play

Santo Spirito

The Spirit of the Oltarno

Santo Spirito

Piazza Santo Spirito is the centre of Oltrarno life. Sleepy in the morning, except for a few market stalls under the plane trees and a quiet café or two, in the evening the bars fill until the early hours with people who meet and chat in the piazza and on the steps of Santo Spirito.

The original church and monastery were begun by the Augustinians (who are still in situ) in 1252 when the Oltrarno was sparsely populated. It soon became a centre of learning, a Studium generale and ran a home for former prostitutes in the 14th century. It also held regular gatherings of early Humanists, including Greek scholar Leonardo Bruni, a good friend of Cosimo il Vecchio and Bocaccio, who left his library to Santa Spirito when he died.

When Florence defeated Milan in 1397 during the second Milan war on St Augustine's feast day (28 August), the city fathers decided to celebrate the victory by rebuilding the church. A few decades later, Brunelleschi was chosen for the task. More land was purchased, but his dreams of having the church overlook the Arno fell flat when some property owners refused to sell.

Read the full content in the app
iOS App Store Google Play

Churches, Cloisters and Convents

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Lucarelli, Creative Commons License, PD Art, Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License, Sailko, GNU Free Documentation License