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Photo © Flavia Cori
Photo © Flavia Cori

Piazza Santo Spirito

Districts, streets and squares

In the Oltrarno district, one of the most beautiful and lively squares of Florence, dominated by the facade of the basilica designed by Brunelleschi

In 1252 the Augustinian friars built a convent in Florence, with a church dedicated to Santa Maria d'Ognissanti and to the Santo Spirito (Saint Mary of All Saints and the Holy Spirit) that soon became known simply as the church of Santo Spirito, giving the name also to the square, Piazza Santo Spirito, that developed during the second half of the thirteenth century to gather the crowds of faithful who attended the prayers.

Today it is one of the most popular and vibrant squares in the city, with its local vibe, the artisan shops and studios, restaurants and bars open day and night.
It is one of the symbols of the Oltrarno neighbourhood and a beloved meeting spot for residents and tourists.

This liveliness dates back to the Middle Ages, when Santo Spirito was the site of demonstrations, games and festivals. Many of these celebrations had direct ties to the neighbourhood, such as the Festival of Saint Rocco, the patron saint of the Oltrarno, whose feast day (August 16) was traditionally celebrated with an al fresco dinner in the piazza.

Today Santo Spirito permanently hosts a crowded handicraft market (second Sunday of the month) and an organic market ("La fierucola", third Sunday of the month). Occasionally it's the scene of concerts and shows, mostly during the summer months.
Basilica di Santo Spirito
Basilica di Santo Spirito - Credit: Flavia Cori

The piazza is dominated by the beautiful Basilica di Santo Spirito, built according to the design of Filippo Brunelleschi and completed at the end of the 15th century. The facade was never finished and today it is a simple and fascinating plastered surface. The interior of the church is a treasure chest of important art works, including a wooden crucifix by Michelangelo and works by Filippino Lippi, Sansovino, Orcagna, Giuliano da San Gallo.

The piazza is surrounded by 15th century houses, among them Palazzo Guadagni, built at the beginning of the 1500s. Its characteristic upper loggia established a fashion and served as a model for a number of other aristocratic palazzi around Florence. The ground floor of this building served as Florence's first public library which opened in 1914. 

At the centre of the piazza rises a fountain made of pietra serena.

Basilica di Santo Spirito
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