Student space

Exploring Florence and Santa Maria Novella

Every time I visit a new city I feel the need to walk around. No matter how many blogs or websites I read about the life in any place, walking still remains the most suitable way to explore. The same thing happened when I and two of my Greek friends visited Florence, during the midterm break. We already had some must-sees on our list, such as Galleria Uffizi, Galleria dell'Accademia, the Duomo, Boboli Gardens, etc. We decided not to rent a MObike, but just walk.

Most of our walks ended outside Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, where we had a cigarette break, before we got back to the apartment. All three times we stood there, probably by coincidence, was around sunset-time. There were street musicians and the birds that were nested in the Basilica's gardens were dancing like crazy in flocks.

So, the last day of our trip we decided to devote our time in the churches of Florence. The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella was first on the list with the Duomo and the Basilica di Santa Croce to follow. We entered S.M.N. from a side entrance that led us to the Plaona Cemetery, before entering the actual Basilica. We wandered inside the church for about 40 minutes, going from the extremely detailed stained-glass windows to the collection of the artworks all around us. After discussing a little bit about the three phases of the construction that were pointed out by a sign, we headed to the exit. Then we realized we only saw a part of the S.M.N complex. We spent the rest of the two hours in the buildings by walking through cloisters, galleries, gardens and a huge amount of marble floor decorations and golden-leaved relics.

The Basilica di Santa Maria di Novella, for me, was one surprise to remind me something that I tend to ignore: religious spaces can still be educative and amazing without the religious context.

Alkis Avarkiotis

Siena Art Institute student