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“Very Few Highlights Inside This Dark, Rather Dull Church AND You Really Pay To See Them” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Church of Santa Maria Novella

Church of Santa Maria Novella
Piazza Santa Maria Novella, 50123 Florence, Italy
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Ranked #36 of 420 things to do in Florence
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Dominican monastery that serves as a distinguished monument to the religious and artistic history of Florence, which features valuable examples of Florentine paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries.
London, UK
Top Contributor
165 reviews 165 reviews
105 attraction reviews
Reviews in 70 cities Reviews in 70 cities
360 helpful votes 360 helpful votes
“Very Few Highlights Inside This Dark, Rather Dull Church AND You Really Pay To See Them”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2012

The church of Santa Maria Novella is my joint '12th place' attraction in Florence, of those I visited - it is one of those few I have grouped together in my 'unpopularity' list, due to them being disappointing and not provoking any great interest from me....

It's quite a large church, located a short distance to the south of the main city railway station of the same name - it sits at one end of a massive, quiet but rather bland piazza - next door is a separate museum of the same name.

The frontage is similar in appearance to several other notable churches in the city, but the detail on it is far less elaborate/ornate and the appearance to my eyes was a little 'dirty' - it is need of a clan like other churches seemed to have had recently as I've seen archive photos which show the frontage in a much better light.....

You'll have plenty of opportunity to judge that frontage as photography is, like a minority of churches, banned inside so there is little stock-footage of the interior....

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 church, 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....

The entrance fee was a relatively pricey EU5 - with hindsight, there are a lot of far better 'value' churches and attractions to visit than Santa Maria Novella. Unfortunately, things for me went downhill a little further after paying-up when I discovered that the massive collection of the free pamphlet just inside the entrance door covered all possible languages EXCEPT English - great....

The main interior of the church is really quite empty, with the nave floorspace being quite uncluttered - just about everything there is to see is on the northern end wall or, to a lesser extent, in 'false' enclaves, created by inset pillars which only divide the length of the nave so you walk along the sides underneath the lower ceiling they support.

It's like the overall internal design of Sante Croce and Duomo, except in this case the central ceiling is much lower and the central floorspace of the nave is much narrower as well. In addition, sadly the overall appearance is also far less exciting, as the ceiling is 'just' curved arches with alternating dark/light 'patches' as opposed to having any kind of ornate decoration. I found the floor decoration a bit more pleasant in appearance....

The altar is easily the most attractive bit of the church, with a pleasant backdrop stained glass window surrounded by a patchwork of quite nice looking fresco-type pieces of artwork. The large paintings either side of the central altar were striking, but not especially stirring. There is a pulpit of similar design, but less ornate than that in Santa Croce.

This church can make for a handy stop if you've time to spare, for example, before catching a train. It's easy to get to and find and doesn't really take long to look around as, in my opinion, there is little of any great significance or great beauty - inside and out. All of which really brings the rather steep entry cost into sharp contrast....

Not far away is Duomo (free) and San Lorenzo (cheaper) - both of which offer much, much more for the visitor.

There was a lot of work going on inside the church when I visited. Perhaps it will be a better option once tidied up, but the entrance fee will in all likelihood still be on the high side...

Visited February 2012
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Buffalo, New York
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“A great respite and outdoor area near the bus/train station.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2012

This church is much smaller than the Duomo, and was finished in 1470 so it "the only ancient facade of the Florentine basiclicas." They offer a nice brochure in English, which helped one to understand some of the frescoes without referring to a guide book. What I appreciated was the tranquility of the church and the walk through the cemetery to gain entry, as it was less bustling than the Duomo Piazza. If you are leaving Florence by bus or train, this church is just around the corner, and makes a nice quiet stop before leaving the city.

Visited February 2012
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
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Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Yet another Church”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2012

probably very good but I had had enough of frescoes and catholicism by then

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Stow on the Wold
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Stunning Ghirlandaio frescos”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2012

One of my favourite Churches in Florence.

Just love he Frescos here.
Spiritually uplifting.

I can understand charging to go into churches nowadays with all there costs etc. Even st Paul's in London charge.
I do feel the strict enforce ment against photography a little tedious. I still buy the postcards but some of the things I would like to photograph are not in guide books or on postcards.

Visited August 2011
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Hong Kong, China
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Reviews in 145 cities Reviews in 145 cities
9,005 helpful votes 9,005 helpful votes
“Nice exterior, not much to see inside the church itself, just an average church visit”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2012

We recently spent some time visiting churches in Florence and stopped at Santa Maria Novella (3.50 Euro per person) for a visit. Please not that entry for the museum, just next to the church, is a separate fee. Also, they ask that you not take pictures inside.

What we liked about Santra Maria Novella was the nice exterior façade that is similar to Santa Croce on the other side of the city centre and of the same style, yet less ornate than the famous Duomo fascade.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to actually see on the inside compared to other churches in Florence and scattered throughout Italy. It seems they save quite a lot for the museum next door, instead. We did like the Tornabuoni Chapel and the Filippo Lippi works in the Strozzi chapel but there was little else to grab our attention in the church area.

Sadly, we found the museum section of Santa Maria Novella had just closed after we finished visiting the church. This was a shame as it might have improved our overall impression of Santa Maria Novella. Without having been able to visit the museum, we left feeling there was very little to actually see in the church alone and by them disallowing photography, you have little to remember this church by other than the notes you take while inside.

Overall, we felt that the church of Santa Novella was much less enjoyable and and less impressive than many of the cities other churches. For those short on time in Florence, we'd recommend targeting other churches first and considering Santa Novella if you have a longer stay. This is more of a second or third tier attraction in our opinion.

Visited February 2012
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