© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI
The Church of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important Gothic churches in Tuscany. The exterior is the work of Fra Jacopo Talenti and Leon Battista Alberti. The interior holds extraordinary works of art including Masaccio’s Trinità, Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle in the Tornabuoni Chapel and Giotto’s Crucifix, among others. The convent was built between 1279 and 1357 by Dominican friars near a 7th century church located in the fields just outside Florence’s medieval walls. The lower part of the Marble façade, which is Romanesque in style, is believed to have been executed by a Dominican architect, Fra Iacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, while the upper part was completed only 100 years later in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti. Thus, the façade is not only the oldest of all the churches in Florence but it is also the only church with its original, planned facade still in place today! As you will see, the church of San Lorenzo never even received its planned marble façade while others were completed centuries later but with new designs.