Santa Croce is a venerable old church that dates to the thirteenth century. It served as the main church for the Franciscans whose abbey is adjacent. The church is the resting place for many prominent Florentines including Michelangelo, Dante, Nicholo Machiavelli, Giacomo Rossini, and, lest we forget, Galileo. Under foot are tombs of warriors and princes, knights and their fair ladies. The place retains an aura of mystery and magic and hushed silence. Afternoon is a wonderful time to see this church bathed in golden light.
At the end of the nave in the area around the altar, frescoes by Giotto are currently being restored and are obscured by scaffolding, but hard-hat tours are available for those who want a close-up view. The Capella Baroncelli with its Taddeo Gaddi frescoes lies a few steps up in the right transept and is, in a word, splendid. Gaddi was a pupil of Giotto's and shares the same sense of drama in his paintings. His experimentation with perspective in his frescoes like the Presentation of the Virgin and other architectural details are standouts. And the night scene Adoration of the Shepherds is perhaps the first night view in Western Art.
Beyond this point are the cloister and gardens, the Orangery, the Baptistery, and the Museum. Your combination ticket gives you entrance to all of these. The museum has rich holdings, among them the Last Supper by Taddeo Gaddi. And, sadly, the remains of the legendary Cimabue crucifix that hung over the main altar until the flood of 1966 can be seen here. Not much remains of this masterpiece, but one can remember its glory when confronted by what's left.
In all, plan to spend a couple of hours here. The church, tombs, chapels, and museum merit the time. Pay homage to this landmark and enjoy.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.