Santa Trinita


Opening hours: daily 8am-12pm and 4pm-6pm.

Closing days: public holidays.

Admission: Free

As this is a working church, watch out you aren't disturbing anyone by visiting during mass, and make sure you have some change with you (1 or 2 euro coins) to work the light meters so you can see the frescoes of the Sassetti chapel properly!
The other chapels have little light switches that can simply be pushed on, free of charge.


The Santa Trinita bridge is somewhat of an icon in Florence, often considered more beautiful than the Ponte Vecchio and definitely the best spot in Florence to enjoy sunset. Designed in the 1560's by Bartolomeo Ammanati with advice from Michelangelo, it was commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici as part of the route of the Grand Duke's processions to the Pitti Palace, the recently purchased Medici residence.

But after its destruction during World War Two, it was actually a famed American art historian living in Florence, Bernard Berenson, who suggested the bridge be reconstructed "as it was, where it was". Florence without the Ponte Santa Trinita was unthinkable! Berenson set up a committee to reconstruct the bridge, securing large donations from people like the eccentric American art collector Peggy Guggenheim (who donated a Jackson Pollock painting) to pay for it, and insisting the bridge be reconstructed using original materials from the quarries of the Boboli Gardens, not concrete, the cheaper version that the Italian State wanted to use. When the bridge was finally completed in 1958 it was considered a perfect replica of the original and Berenson was awarded honorary citizenship.

Moving on to the Santa Trinita church, with its layers of history, art and architecture, we find a series of beautifully frescoed chapels inside. The most famous and most stunning series of frescoes is in the Sassetti chapel, where Domenico Ghirlandaio, master of the young Michelangelo, faithfully included portraits of the Medici and Sassetti family members – friends and business partners. To include the Medici in his family chapel was a way for Signore Sassetti to say thank you to his Medici partners for making him a very wealthy man. Francesco Sassetti, the patron of the chapel, was the Medici family's bank manager.

The slightly earlier Bartolini Salimbeni chapel is also worth a look. The frescoes and the altarpiece are by Lorenzo Monaco, (Lorenzo the Monk) from the early 1420's. This chapel is a wonderful example of what is known as International Gothic style. While his contemporaries were painting with perspective in the new style of the Renaissance, Lorenzo Monaco also used a new style, but from northern Europe, with bright colours, plenty of gold, minute details and disproportionate figures. No doubt the commissioning family believed they would have the edge on other Florentine art patrons with this style, favoured by the royal and noble families from the revered north.

The church sits at the beginning of Via Tornabuoni, named after one of the wealthiest Renaissance families in Florence. An elegant street ever since the 15th century, it is home today to all the big names in high fashion and their boutiques as well as beautiful churches and grand Renaissance palaces.