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Santa Maria Maggiore

Medieval Meets Baroque

Santa Maria Maggiore

Founded sometime before the 10th century, this is one of the oldest if not the oldest church in Florence dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the site of the tomb of Brunetto Latini, the Chancellor of the Republic who taught Dante.

Rebuilt as a tall Gothic church by the Cistercians in the 14th century, it was given a Baroque coating by Gherardo Silvani and other decorations and stuccoes in the 18th century, some of which were taken down a century ago, along with the stucco that once covered the facade.

The amputated Romanesque bell tower still has cannibalized Roman marbles, including a female head nicknamed Berta, who supposedly made fun of a condemned prisoner, who cursed her and turned her into stone.

The interior looks rather odd with its Baroquely ornate aisles and rather austere apse (much of its original art, including works by Orcagna, Botticelli and Masolino) has gone elsewhere. Damaged trecento frescoes of the Story of Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents by Orcagna's brother Jacopo di Cione and Mariotto di Nardo flank the high altar.

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Medieval Art & Architecture

Churches, Cloisters and Convents

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Sailko, GNU Free Documentation License