the middle of the thirteenth century, the Augustinian brothers chose this
patch of land in the Florentine Oltrarno to build first an oratory and
then a church. The brothers fit in very well with the Florentine people,
and with the passage of time the prestige of their church grew, to the
point that in 1343 it was enlarged and decorated with frescos.
Around about 1445, the Frescobaldi family decided to finance renewal work
on the church, which was undertaken by Brunelleschi. He died two years
later, but his work was continued first by Antonio Manetti and then by
others. It was only completed in 1487, and three years later the bell
tower of Baccio d'Agnolo was added. Later additions were the Vestibule
by Cronaca, the Sacristy by Sangallo, the first and then the second cloister.
The church of Santa Spirito has a simple but striking appearance with
its plain pale facade broken only by the rose window and the three doors.
Inside there are as many as 38 chapels, decorated by skilled artists as
proof of the devotion of important Florentine families. The Cappella Corsini,
built in the 14th and restored in the 18th century, can be reached via
the second cloister; amongst other things, it houses the Gothic tombs
of Tommaso and Neri Corsini.
The church of Santo Spirito faces onto a large piazza of the same name,
where there is a fountain which was once in the cloister of the convent.
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden