Visiting the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence

This is not a museum, but a Church. And a grand one at that.

520 years ago this was the church Michelangelo attended as a child, and where he was baptized, when he grew up just two blocks away. It is also the church where Michelangelo is buried. Also buried here are the remains of fellow Renaissance artist Lorenzo Ghiberti and Michelangelo's acquaintance and one-time employer Machiavelli; as well as the remains of Galileo and numerous Florentine notables. Legend says the church was founded by St. Francis himself (it's the largest Franciscan church in the world).

A few of the walls in one of the chapels were frescoed by Giotto and his workshop, and Michelangelo spent his teenaged years there drawing them. Ink drawings of the Giotto frescoes are among his earliest extant works, and coming face to face with them (having seen reproductions of his reproductions many times) made them instantly recognizable. It was a treat.

There were some stunning Della Robbia terracotta reliefs. These were by Luca. There are powerful Bronzino paintings worth a look as well, but for my 2 cents, the BFD was visiting the tomb of Michelangelo.

Designed by Giorgio Vasari - his one time pupil and chronicler, and the inventor of art history and first art historian - it's a bit over-the-top and grandiose. But so was the Renaissance's appreciation for the genius of Michelangelo. It was a bit of a pilgrimage... and I'm so glad I got to visit the master's final resting place.

#basilica #santacroce #florence

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