The Basilica of Santa Trinita is the mother church of the religious order of the Vallumbrosan, founded by a Florentine nobleman in 1092.
The Basilica of Santa Trinita is located in front of the Piazza Santa Trinita and traversed by the very famous Via de’ Tornabuoni, well-known for hosting the most important high fashion boutiques.
The history of the Basilica of Santa Trinita
The current Basilica was built between 1258 and 1280 on the site of another 11th century church. Over the centuries it has undergone multiple reconstructions that make it a unique church for the different architectural styles that can be admired there.
The façade, rebuilt between 1593 and 1594, is Mannerist and was designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. However, if you enter the church and turn around, you will notice the Romanesque stonework that emerged when the building was restored. Thanks to the same restoration, the floor of the 11thcentury church was revealed together with a crypt.
The floor mosaics that belonged to the previous church are now in the Bargello museum but the capitals of the columns of the crypt are still in the Basilica of the Holy Trinity. Pietro Bernini and Giovanni Battista Caccini sculpted the relief over the central door, while the 17th century wooden doors were carved as a remembrance of Vallombrosan saints.
Among the masterpieces that you can find in the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, there are the beautiful works realized by Lorenzo Monaco in the Cialli-Seringi chapel.
The peculiarity of this chapel is that Monaco mixes different styles: he uses the High Gothic style for the Annunciation on the altar, but the frescoes on the walls reveal that the artist knew the new developments in painting introduced by Masaccio (one of the most important Florentine Renaissance artist).
In the Sassetti family chapel you will admire the Domenico Ghirlandaio’s masterpieces: we are now int the High Renaissance.
The most important are the scenes from the life of Saint Francis since they work also as a historic document: the painting shows the old façade of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity realized with the Romanesque style, together with the Holy Trinity bridge as it was before the great flood of 1557.
With the San Pietro chapel we enter the Baroque with a rush, thanks to the wonderful representation of “Christ walks on water to save Peter”.
The Ponte Santa Trinita, one of the most elegant bridges in Europe
Ponte Santa Trinita is a Renaissance bridge over the Arno river. This bridge takes its name from the nearby Basilica of Santa Trinita and is considered the oldest elliptical arch bridge in the world. From the bridge you can also admire a magnificent view of the better known Ponte Vecchio.
The bridge was realized between 1567 and 1569 by the Florentine architect Bartolomeo Ammannati according to a project made by Michelangelo. Previously there was another bridge made of wood constructed in 1252 that collapsed due to the weight of people while they were watching a show in the Arno river. Seven years later the Holy Trinity bridge was rebuilt in stone but unfortunately less than one century later, in 1333, was destroyed by a flood.
The reconstruction lasted sixty years (1356-1415). The new bridge was designed by the Florentine artist Taddeo Gaddi but was destroyed in the flood of 1557, that brought to Ammannati’s replacement. Unlike the Old Bridge, the Holy Trinity bridge was destroyed by retreating German troops between 3 and 4 August 1944.
A temporary bridge was reconstructed and then replaced in 1958 with a bridge made of stones raised from the Arno river by the engineer Emilio Brizzi and the architect Riccardo Gizdulich.
In 1608, as part of the wedding celebrations of Duke Cosimo II de 'Medici with Mary Magdalene of Austria, four statues of the Seasons were added to the Ponte della Santissima Trinità. These statues were made by different artists: Pietro Francavilla designed the Spring, Giovanni Caccini (who also worked on the Basilica of the Holy Trinity) created the Summer and Autumn, and Taddeo Landini created the Winter.
After the destruction of the Holy Trinity Bridge in 1944, the statue of the Spring disappeared and it was recovered from the bed of the Arno river only in 1961.
During our sunset walking tour we will pass in front of the Basilica of Santa Trinita and cross the Ponte Santa Trinita to reach the other part of Florence called Oltrarno.