The Church of Santissima Annunziata was founded by seven young Florentines who founded the Order of the Servites of Maria and built the first church on this site in 1250. The new church became a major pilgrimage destination thanks to its miraculous fresco of the Annunciation. According to legend the painter Bartolomeo had finished all of the fresco except the face of the Virgin. He fell asleep on the scaffolding and when he awoke he found that the fresco had been finished by a divine hand. The popularity of this miraculous image made it necessary to enlarge the church, creating the courtyard at its entrance to provide a space for pilgrims, as well as to create a new street connecting the church to the city's centre at the cathedral, the Via de' Servi.
The single- nave church is richly decorated in the Baroque style with numerous art works beyond that of the miraculous fresco. In front of the facade is a porch with seven arches on columns from which you can enter the Chiostrino dei Voti which has important frescoes by the artists Andrea del Sarto, Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo. To either side of the church are the porches of the Ospedale degli Innocenti and the Loggia dei Servi di Maria. The facade of the Ospedale was built in the early 15th centuy and was one of the first architectural works of the Florentine Renaissance, built by Filippo Brunelleschi. The glazed terracotta rondels are by Andrea della Robbia and show the swaddled “innocents” to whom the hospital dedicated its services – the abandoned children who were left at its doorstep and cared for by the city.
The Loggia dei Servi di Maria was built between 1517-27 by the Servite Order following a design of Antonio da Sangallo and Baccio d'Angolo. The facade copies that of Brunelleschi's hospital, replacing the children with the Servite “S”. Today the building is a hotel.The piazza is finished on the south side with a small 18th-century palazzo on one side, also a hotel. On the other corner is the brick Palazzo Budini Gattai which was built in the second half of the 16th century by Ammannati. At the centre of the piazza is the equestrian monument of Grand Duke Ferdinand I by Giambologna and Piero Tacca (1608). Piero Tacca is also responsible for the bronze fountains with marine monsters which he made in 1629 and which are considered masterpieces of Mannerist sculpture.
SS. Annunziata Church
P.za SS. Annunziata - Tel. 055 266181
Weekdays: 7.30-12.30/16-18.30; Sundays and holidays: 7.30-12.30/16-18.30; Closed: N/A.
Disabled Access: no