Thursday, January 04, 2007

Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, Firenze

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, with the Basilica and the Statue of Ferdinando I by Giambologna and Tacca (1608)

High Altar in the Basilica

Shrine to the Madonna of the Annunciation

Organ (1628)


Baccio Bandinelli (Firenze, 1493-1560).Pieta, 1539
The figure of Nicodemus is that of Bandinelli

Chiostro Grande

Jacopo Carucci (May 24, 1494 — January 2, 1557), usually known Pontormo
The Visitation
Chiostrino dei Voti
Andrea del Sarto, true name Andrea d'Agnolo di Francesco di Luca di Paolo del Migliore, (1486-87 - 1531)
Madonna del Sacco
Chiostro Grande

See museums in florence and  Susan and Joanna Horner, Walks in Florence: Churches, Streets and Palaces : Chapter XXVI: Convent and Church of the SS. Annunziata

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata (Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Florence and the mother church of the Servite order. It is located at the northeastern side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

It is the principal Marian shrine in Florence.

The principal feast day is March 25th which was also the date of the Florentine New Year for many centuries. The Florentine capodanno was and is celebrated in this Church.

The church stands on the pre-existent oratory of the Servi di Maria (1235). The oratory was built around the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Annunciation by seven young noblemen who decided to take monastic vows and give up worldly pleasures.

Michelozzo built the First Cloister in the mid 15th century. The main body of the Church, started in 1440 by Michelozzo and Pagno Portigiani, was later altered by Alberti, who created the impressive Tribune.

The atrium or portico of the church faces the piazza, and is composed of seven arches, raised on slender Corinthian columns. The central arch was erected by Pope Leo X., after a design by Antonio di San Gallo, and in 1512 it was decorated with a fresco representing Faith, Hope, and Charity, by Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo (1493-1588); but of which unfortunately little now remains.

There are three doors under the portico; that to the left opens on the cloister and leads to the convent. To the right is the entrance to the Chapel of the Pucci family, dedicated to San Sebastiano. The central door under the portico opens on the cortile, or entrance court.

The Church of the SS. Annunziata itself is composed of a single nave, with five chapels on either side, two short transepts, and a circular choir, surmounted by a cupola. The whole is richly decorated with paintings, stucco, and gilding. The interior is excessively baroque. If you are fond of the Baroque, you`ll swoon. It is a surfeit of the Baroque.

In 1252, a painting of the Annunciation, which had been begun by one of the monks but abandoned in despair because he did not feel he could create a beautiful enough image, was supposedly completed by an angel while he slept. The interior of the church is dominated by the large tabernacle designed by Michelozzo to house the miraculous painting, itself now so frequently repainted that it is impossible to distinguish clearly. Florentine brides traditionally visit the shrine to leave their bouquets

Before the church was as much decorated as it now is, it was customary to suspend from the roof waxen images of living eminent persons. This privilege was only granted to citizens entitled to the highest magisterial offices, or to foreign sovereigns. The effigy of Lorenzo de' Medici, by Andrea Verocchio, was thus suspended in the dress he wore when he miraculously escaped death from the daggers of the Pazzi. To remove any such effigy was considered the greatest insult and disgrace; and if one fell to the ground it was thought an evil omen.

The images of Florentine citizens were hung on one side of the church; those of Popes and foreign potentates on the other. When the SS. Annunziata was altered to please modern taste, these effigies were transferred to the outer cortile.The atrium which was built to house these figures, the Chiostrino dei Voti, is covered in frescoes begun in 1516 to mark the canonisation of Filippo Benizi, fifth Prior General of the Servites. In the reign of Pietro Leopoldo (1786) the effigies were wholly removed. The wax effigies were made into candles.

The Cloister of the SS. Annunziata was built by Simone Pollajuolo, "Il Cronaca," towards the end of the fifteenth century. It is surrounded by frescos, chiefly by Bernardino Barbatelli, called Pocetti, who was born in Florence in1542.

The organ (1628) is the oldest in Florence and the second oldest in Italy.

In the Chapel of San Luca, the patron saint of painters, Cellini, Pontormo, Franciabigio, Bartolommeo Bandinelli, Pietro Tacca, Giovanni Montorsoli, Lorenzo Bartolini. and other masters are buried.

Giambologna is buried in the Flemish funeral chapel (which he designed himself), situated in the church. His last work, the statue of Duke Ferdinando I (finished afterhis death by his successor Tacca), is in the Square outside.

Principal Works of Art are detailed and their images can be viewed at

For the website of Provincia della Santissima Annunziata dell'Ordine dei Servi di Maria, see