The Museum of San Marco is my '9th place' attraction in Florence, of those I visited.
*** Firstly, you should note that Trip Advisor have managed to make a complete mess of entries for this attraction with it appearing under 3 separate entries despite them all being the same please ! Along with this webpage, it also appears within TA as 'Convent San Marco' and 'San Marco'.
To be clear, the official title of this attraction is 'Museo di San Marco' which encompasses both the convent AND it also being a 'museum' - all of which is actually part of the convent building....
The Convent of San Marco is situated directly to the north of a busy piazza of the same name - the church is to the left of the convent entrance (people seem to amalgamate the two, but they are separate buildings, joined together). From the front, it is relatively non-descript to look at but once inside you quickly realise it is covers a reasonable amount of ground as well as comprising several floors. There is a quite a lot to see inside, with some very attractively-decorated rooms, but the significant thing most people come to see are a notable painting on the 1st floor which starts a journey around 44 separate dormitory cells with their 'personal' decorations within....
I am compiling an extensive Trip Advisor 'Trip List' for my recent 6 full-day visit to see the sights of Florence. Please feel free to access it via my TA Profile - I hope it is of interest and use to you and I hope all of my individual reviews/photos get posted properly as I know from past experience that the Trip Advisor submission process sometimes, incorrectly, 'blocks' them despite me being a so-called 'Senior Contributor'.....
Just before covering my personal views of the convent/museum, please note that as official information sources can change and the Internet links at the top of each attraction webpage on Trip Advisor can be wrong (or even absent !) I deal with visitor information/ticketing etc in the dedicated section for the attraction in my TA Trip List. This is because I have sole-control over that, can add Internet links and can edit/update it with ease to reflect changes (reviews cannot be amended after they're posted). It might also contain photos/video links if they fail to get posted with this review or on this webpage....
Whilst I cover visitor info for the museum more fully in my Trip List, it's worth noting here that this attraction is one of the notable few which has a very variable opening hours schedule - with a normal schedule being complemented by being open on only a combination of alternate Sundays/Mondays BUT, more importantly, always closing 'early' at 1350hrs on weekdays (at time of writing).
The ground floor rooms should be visited to see a large collection of paintings/frescoes and the like, none of which really grabbed me I'm afraid.
Upstairs things get more interesting, starting with Angelico's 'Annunciation' which attracts a LOT of attention. It is clearly an important work but again, for me, I'm afraid to say it didn't really capture my attention in any great fashion. It is a busy area with lots of 'inappropriate' language/behaviour, since rather too many visitors decide to ignore the 'no photography' rule, prompting frequent incursions by the resident security staff - it's a bit like what occurs in the Sistine chapel of the Vatican if you're ever been there.
Similarly, I'm sorry to say that the decorated 'cells' quickly became almost quite boring to individually examine as I found the artwork rarely varied much between them and there wasn't much else to look at either.
Happily, each 'end' of the horseshoe-shaped upper floor (it's actually 3 sides of a square building) had more of interest. The left-end cell of 'Savonarola' (apparently a 'VIP' cell !) had an extremely attractive painting perched on an easel within it; the work was called 'Sgherri in casa Bentivoglio' by Federico Andreotti and I found it even better to view if you politely asked the resident attendant to turn off the huge floodlight shining on it, as the glare and reflections spoilt the view !
At the right-end the cell had, if I remember correctly, an adjoining chapel of some sort which was very pleasant; unfortunately I can't find anything that mentions it and the official website information doesn't breakdown that area in sufficient detail to identify it - if you go you'll just have to explore and find it yourself !
There is also a library to peruse, the cloisters of course and a large room called 'Refettorio Grande' which contained some interesting work.
Even with a guidebook I was often left a bit confused about what I was looking at and the overall layout of San Marco. However, just casually walking around and intently looking at the artwork, on the whole, left me slightly underwhelmed; I'm sure that not having a great interest in the religious significance of what I was looking at didn't help. So, as it was I found San Marco pleasant enough to visit but it failed to capture my interest in anything like the same way as other places I frequented.
If you own or manage Museo di San Marco, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.
- Manage your listing