The Piazza Santo Spirito is a beautiful and cosy square near the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Its main attractions are the Santo Spirito Basilica and the Palazzo Guadagni across the square. In the evenings a meeting place for the young and trendy, during daytime it is a well-known market square.
Piazza Santo Spirito Florence
History and description
The Piazza Santo Spirito is located across the river from what is generally considered to be the historical centre. It is one of the city’s most popular night time spots, thanks to the many cafes and eateries, several of which with outside tables.
The Piazza Santo Spirito was constructed around the middle of the 13th century. The church already existed and the square was meant to create a more welcoming environment for the faithful. The church was run by the Agostine Order and at the time was still called Chiesa di Santa Maria d’Ognissanti e del Santo Spirito.
Santo Spirito Church
The present version of the church was constructed after a design by Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi died in 1444, before the church was completed, and Antonio Manetti, Giovanni da Gaiole and Salvi d’Andrea finished its construction toward the end of the century. The facade remained unadorned, however. The main attraction is a wooden crucifix attributed to Michelangelo. Other masters contributing works of art were Filippino Lippi, Bernardo Rossellino and Maso di Banco.
Orcagna’s Last Supper
The entrance to the Museo della Fondazione Romano is to the left of the facade of the basilica. Its seat is the refectory of the former Santo Spirito convent, which was not reconstructed by Brunelleschi, and can therefore be seen in its original Gothic splendour. The highlight is Andrea Orcagna’s Cenacolo (“Last Supper”), which has unfortunately not been very well preserved.
Cosimo Ridolfi statue
The statue across from the basilica depicts Cosimo Ridolfi (1794-1965), a nobleman and agricultural expert, who was later to become a politician.
The Palazzo Guadagni is also known as the Palazzo Dei. Construction of this building started in 1502. Its most striking characteristic is the typically Florentine loggia on the top floor.
The big octagonal fountain in the centre of the Piazza Santo Spirito used to decorate the church cloister. In 1812 the architect Giuseppe del Rosso placed it in its present spot. Del Rosso was the house architect of the Grand Duke at the time.
Apart from the aforementioned daily market (monday till friday), on every second Sunday of the month there is a mercatino dell’artigianato, where local antique dealers and artists can sell their wares.
The Fierucolina di Santo Spirito takes place every third Sunday of the month. This market is the place to go if you want to sample local food.
There is a rare public toilet inside the building to the left of the convent.