Italy: Santa Croce

Yesterday we went to Santa Croce church on a guided tour with our Italian Culture teacher (she’s also the one who took us to the Uffizi the first time and we love going anywhere with her — she knows so much about everything!). It was really fascinating to learn about a church that we see nearly every day and after this visit I think it’s definitely my favorite thus far.


A statue of Dante. He was born in Florence but exiled later in his life due to politics and he never returned before his death (apparently they only reversed the exile within the last few years).


The pulpit — apparently the pews were for the clergy and the people would stand in the center to hear the sermons.


The tomb of Galileo Gallilei. Despite being excommunicated he was still allowed to be buried in the church.


The artist who created the Statue of Liberty studied in Florence with the same artist who created this statue (Notice any similarities? The Italians do…).


A monument dedicated to the man who saved Lorenzo il Magnifico’s life.


A tomb for Michelangelo. The three women represent Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture. The laurel rings are Michelangelo’s symbol — he used them as a “stamp of approval” when he chose his marble and after his death Vasari and the Medici appropriated it for themselves.

Michelangelo was not actually living in Florence at the time of his death but his nephew brought the body back from Rome, much to Vasari and the Medici’s delight: they gave him a state funeral.


Dante’s tomb. The body is not here, but in Ravenna. Not long after his death Florence began writing letters every year (continuing through the present) to have his body returned to Florence but Ravenna has declined to send it back. If Florence did not want him in life they would not be allowed the honor of his body in death.

The two women below Dante are Poetry and Italy (because Dante is the father of Italian).


The tomb of Victorio Alferio, a neoclassical poet. This is the first time Italy was represented as a female.


Machiavelli’s tomb: “To so great a name no praise is worthy.”


The Annunciation by Donatello.


The floors of all the churches are also burial grounds.


Scenes from the life of St. Francis.


The Pazzi Family Chapel — they were responsible for the “Pazzi Conspiracy”: an attempt to assassinate Lorenzo il Magnifico and his brother.


The cross that became a symbol of the flood of 1966 and pictures of the flood. There are actually plaques on various buildings around town that serve as water markers for all the major floods. It’s really unbelievable when you see how high some of them are.




The courtyard.



The “Romantic Graves”. The entire floor and all the monuments along the wall are tombs.




I love these old books. The time it must have taken them and the artistry involved is amazing.



The Medici Chapel


The leather school is attached to the church. Each of the tables had someone working on a purse or gloves and behind them was the merchandise.




7 thoughts on “Italy: Santa Croce

  1. Fantastic post – thanks so much!!

    It’s such a great church – and love the Dante statue.

    Btw., the Pazzi Conspiracy, didn’t that lead to the Wrath of Lorenzo or something? Killing dozens of people?

    • I’m glad I read The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici before you asked this!

      After the conspiracy failed the people of Florence went and found the conspirators, hunting them down and killing them. And Jacopo de’ Pazzi, after attempting to escape, was found and then tortured, stripped naked and strung from a window, buried in Santa Croce, the body dug up and thrown into a ditch, removed again and dragged throught he streets by a mob, propped against a door of the Pazzi Palace, then thrown into the Arno, fished out by a gang of children who strung it up in a tree and flogged it, then finally tossed back into the Arno.

      The Pazzi family’s name and coat of arms were suppressed and their property confiscated, the family symbol was to be cut down or blotted whenever found, no man who married a Pazzi woman could hold office, family customs abolished, and Botticelli painted representations of all of the traitors on the wall of the Borgello, shown with ropes around their necks, and underneath which Lorenzo composed suitable epitaphs.

    • The scope of Dante is still boggling, and perhaps unrivaled. He chronicles the whole classical age and medieval times in a beautifully designed tale – with fantastic poetry.
      And it’s fun and exciting, too!!

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