The Santa Maria Novella Railway Station welcomes thousands of travelers from all over the world every day, being the main station in Tuscany and the fourth largest in Italy. Located in the center of Florence, it is a terminus, or terminal station, a few steps from the Basilica of the same name, and about a kilometer from major monuments such as the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio.
Opened in 1935, it replaced in functionality the city's first station known as "Leopolda," among the first in all of Italy, located outside the city walls and built in 1844 by Robert Stephenson, son of the inventor of the railroad. The new construction took the place of the "Maria Antonia" station, built inside the walls in 1848 right next to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.
A national competition was held for the construction of the new railway station of Florence in 1932, in which as many as 100 competitors participated, and which was won by the so-called Tuscan Group, a group of talented architects led by Giovanni Michelucci and made up of Nello Baroni, Pier Niccolò Berardi, Italo Gamberini, Sarre Guarnieri, Leonardo Lusanna.
The winning design gave the city a masterpiece of Italian rationalism, as well as the first Italian station erected with a logic of modern functionality, which blends perfectly with the city. As a matter of fact, the building is structured horizontally so as not to clash with the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella opposite, and is made of pietra forte, typical of many Florentine palaces and buildings.
Topped by a "glass waterfall," a large seven-tier window that allows light to illuminate the station's spaces, the large building is divided into three rooms, all of which are covered with splendid polychrome marble from the marble quarries throughout the region. Further enriching these large spaces are some notable works of art such as the “Paesaggi Toscani” (Tuscan Landscapes) by Ottone Rosai in the bar-restaurant areas, and large fresco “Partenze” (Departures) by Giampaolo Talani in the main gallery.
At the head of platform 16, on the other hand, is a significant monument commemorating the 300 people who were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp on November 9, 1943 aboard a train that left from that very platform.
The Santa Maria Novella Railway Station has also been the scene of several movie scenes, the most famous of which is certainly that of the slaps in Mario Monicelli's 1975 cult film "Amici Miei."