Monday, September 24, 2007


Ognissanti, which means "All saints" is a church near the Arno It is in the middle of a piazza and I have passed it many times on my way to Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunsets. From the outside, it is relatively non-descript, but for the Louis della Robbia ceramic above the door. The church was the parish church of the merchant family of the Vespucci. Sound familiar? Yes, Amerigo Vespucci was the first to realize that the land discovered by Columbus was a new continent, not the eastern shore of the Indies. There is a fresco by Ghirlandaio (master of Michelangelo) depicting the Vespucci family.

Ognissanti is also the burial place of Sandro Botticelli, famous painter of Primavera, and The Birth of Venus which hang in the Uffizi, among many others. A fresco by Botticelli of St. Augustine can be seen on the south wall inside the church, opposite one of St. Jerome by Ghirlandaio.

I would have overlooked this church, but for a tour that was offered free from my school. Monica, one of the teachers was the guide, and she took us to two important piazzas and then the church. The church is one of the more ornate in Florence, decorated in the baroque style, and the perspective on the ceiling and each end of the church is incredible. If you move from side to side in the church, the balconies painted on the sides seem to slant in one direction and then the other! It is amazing to see.

When I entered this church, a monk met me at the door, and had me put on a paper shawl to cover my bare shoulders as I had on a sleeveless shirt. As I entered, I saw others with these paper shawls wrapped around their waists to cover bare legs.

Now I am getting into the attractions that are not so much for tourists, but I don’t know why. There is no entry fee for this church, and it is absolutely one of the most beautiful sites in Florence. I recommend it highly. Then afterwards, stroll to Ponte Santa Trinita and to Noir for an appertivo.

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