The Santissima Annunziata Basilica in Florence is especially worth a visit because of the Chiostrino dei Voti designed by Michelozzo. There is of course also a fresco painted by a real angel. In English the name of the church is Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation. It is located in the north-east part of the historical center and is one of the city’s architecturally more sober churches.
Santissima Annunziata Florence
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza della Santissima Annunziata – 50121 Florence, Italy. Telephone: +39 055 266181. Opening hours: From 07.30 to 12.30 and from 16.00 to 18.30 hours. On Sundays and holidays also from 20.45 to 21.45 hours. Admission: Free of charge. The church is wheelchair-accessible.
The Santissima Annunziata Basilica has an interesting history. In 1250, seven Florentine noblemen returned to the city after a long absence. In 1233 they had given away all their possessions and moved into the woods in order to dedicate themselves to meditation.
After their return, they built an oratory outside the city walls and founded the Monastery of the Servants of Mary. This first church was near the Porta di Ballo and its name was Santa Maria dei Servi di Cafaggio.
In 1444, this oratory was extended by Michelozzo. Alberti also made some changes (including the round grandstand). In the 17th century, its interior was refurbished in a Baroque style.
The frescoes, or what is left of them, above the portico are painted by Pontormo (1513-1514).
Davide Ghirlandaio created the “Annunciation” mosaic above the main portal (1509).
The interior consists of a single nave. It was designed by Alberti. However, the ceiling was the work by Giambelli. A number of frescoes by Andrea del Castagno can be seen. Giambologna was responsible for several sculptures.
Chiostrino dei Voti
The Chiostrino dei Voti was designed by Michelozzo and houses Andrea del Sarto‘s “Birth of the Virgin” (1513) and a partially damaged “Arrival of the Three Kings” (1514). This last fresco shows Del Sarto himself (the man in the blue hat, on the right). Other works in the Chiostrino are an “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” by Rosso Fiorentino (1513) and second painting with the same theme by Jacopo Pontormo (1515).
An Angel Came and Painted It
To the left of the entrance is a huge tabernacle designed by Michelozzo. Here you can see a painting that was started in 1252 by a monk, but finished by an angel. The monk went to take a nap when he realised that he would not be able to paint the virgin nicely enough. Waking up again he saw that the face of the Virgin had been painted. It is customary in Florence for brides to leave their bouquets here, which would bring happiness.
Outside the church, in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, stands a statue of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I on his horse made by Giambologna (1608). After the death of Giambologna this work was cast by Pietro Tacca. The two fountains on the square were also made by Tacca. The portico was designed by Brunelleschi.