Basilica of Santa Croce Tour
Santa Croce Square
Chapels painted by Giotto
Cross painted by Cimabue
Duration of the tour: 3 hours
Suitable for children: yes
Accessibility for different ables: yes
Difference in level: 5 metres
Further information at the bottom (or click here)
The Basilica of Santa Croce: the Italian Pantheon
The Basilica of Santa Croce tour does not only mean visiting one of the most beautiful and majestic churches in Florence but also discovering one of the most well-known buildings in Italian history: the church is in fact known for being the so-called Pantheon of the Italians as it keeps the burials of illustrious personalities of Italian history, such as Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
Thanks to its Gothic style with sober lines that were designed by Arnolfo di Cambio – one of the most important sculptors and architects between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries –, the Basilica is also an authentic architectural jewel.
Our Santa Croce tour starts from the square facing the basilica, a very important place in Florentine history both because it has witnessed the unfolding of events related to famous men – among many, Dante Alghieri and Giuliano de ‘Medici – and because in this day the square is the setting for the Calcio fiorentino (the historic Florentine football), one of the oldest and most exciting traditions in the city.
This is also the place where you can admire some of the historic buildings of Florence, such as the Palazzo dell’Antella, an edifice whose decoration was commissioned by a knight of Malta who, as we will see, during his life had important contacts with the great painter Caravaggio …
Stories of the true Cross, Agnolo Gaddi, High altar
The biggest Franciscan church in the world
Entering inside the Basilica, what first catches your attention will be its majesty. Well, it is important to know that Santa Croce Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world: the length of the building is a hundred and fifteen metres and its width is thirty-eight metres. We will see the famous burials of the church starting by that of Michelangelo, decorated with allegories representing the Arts in which he was the undisputed master: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. It will be interesting to find out why the position of this tomb is somehow connected to the large altar on its left and which is where, in a canvas representing the Ascent on the Calvary, a man has the very features of Michelangelo Buonarroti … We will then go to discover the Galileo Galilei’s tomb, the founder of modern science and the man who, according to what Ugo Foscolo in the Sepolcri wrote, «saw / under the ethereal pavilion rotate / more worlds, and the Sun radiating them motionlessly […] ».
Galileo’s tomb and the strange correspondence with Michelangelo’s
The statues of the allegories surmounting the tomb symbolize the disciplines studied by the scientist, but they had to be three and not just two as we see today: in addition to Geometry and Astronomy, Philosophy should have completed the decoration of the tomb; for a reason that we will discover, the ecclesiastical authorities did not give permission to add it …
Another curious thing about Galileo is that, for about a century, his burial was located in another place of the church, almost hidden from the sight of faithful. Once buried in its present position, his tomb was placed exactly in correspondence with that of Michelangelo: we will discover together what are the unexpected and surprising connections between the two Tuscan geniuses… In the Basilica of Santa Croce we also have the tomb of Niccolò Machiavelli, a great political theorist and author of a famous literary work entitled the Prince. We then see the tomb of Gioacchino Rossini ,the musician who was author of the famous opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Finally we will see the Ugo Foscolo’s tomb, author of the celebratory poem which – as it was said greatly contributed to the fame of the Santa Croce’s burials.
Where Stendhal’s Syndrome began…
Continuing the Basilica of Santa Croce tour, we discover the place where the French poet Stendhal, on account of the overly admiration for the art works he was seeing in the church during his visit in 1817, was the victim of a physical fainting which then went down in history with the name of Stendhal Syndrome. Today this term defines the feeling of ecstasy and admiration felt by people facing works of art or places of particular charm, just as happened to the French writer.
Baroncelli Chapel, Taddeo Gaddi
Michelangelo’s Tomb, Basilica of Santa Croce
The Stories of the true Cross by Agnolo Gaddi
Approaching the high altar, we admire the wonderful triumph of colours created in the apse area by the alternation of the brilliant figures on the stained glass windows and the bright gradations in the paintings by Agnolo Gaddi, the painter who, in the second half of the fourteenth-century, here made a cycle of frescos representing the Stories of the true Cross. Next to the main chapel, we can admire the innovative scenes painted by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels. The great Florentine artist was called by these two wealthy families that, as owners of ‘banks’, were able not only to afford one of the most requested painters at the time – namely, Giotto – but even to lend a large sum of money to the king of England Edward III for his military campaigns in France. As we shall see, something dramatic happened in 1342 …
The Cross by Cimabue and the Pazzi Chapel
After seeing the masterpieces inside the church, we go to see the works and to uncover stories regarding men and women in the adjoining spaces, such as in the Sacristy, where we find the famous Cross painted by Cimabue – the Giotto’s master. The corridor that connects the church with the Novitiate Chapel allows us to go outwards which is where we find an elegant portico; connected to the latter is the Pazzi Chapel, the patronage space of the family that was involved in a famous conspiracy against the Medici family in the fifteenth-century …
After visiting the museum and the cloister, we conclude our Basilica of Santa Croce tour in the Refectory, an environment of great finish that, despite the disastrous floods to which it has been exposed over the centuries, still retains fourteenth-century frescoes by Agnolo Gaddi, among which stands out a Lignum Vitae that is a particular representation of the Crucifixion whose cross branches out like a large tree.
Once this highly suggestive path is concluded, visitors come to realize that, because of the works of art and the extraordinary historical evidence, the Basilica of Santa Croce is a truly unique place: visiting it means discovering an important piece of Italian history.
Lignum Vitæ, Taddeo Gaddi, Refectory
An historic tomb in the church of Santa Croce
important Information about the tour (click here)
A convenient way to access all the museums or to use the Florentine public transport service is by the Firenze Card (temporarily not active).
The activity proposed here is not a pre-organised tour but a private tour that is carried out on request of individuals or groups organised with a tourist agency and can be customised for starting time, meeting place and duration. depending on the customer’s needs.
Duration of the Santa Croce tour
The guided tour to the Santa Croce Basilica last 2 hours.
Cost of the Santa Croce tour
The rate for a 2-hours private guided tour is 110.00 € (price in total and not per person).
These rates are applied to individuals and small groups of up to 9 people. For groups of more than 9 people see the rates page. The tour can be booked by writing an email, calling at +393332591526 or texting the guide (also via Whatsapp or Telegram) to check availability for the requested day. Payment for the tour can be made after the guided tour by card, bank transfer or cash.
Radio rental compulsory from 6 people onwards
From 6 people onwards, to facilitate listening to the guide explanations and ensuring social distancing outdoors and indoors, it is strictly recommended to rent radio devices with transmitters that ensure perfect listening to the explanations of the guide even from a distance; as we visit the inside of the Santa Croce Basilica, the rental of radios is compulsory for 4 or more people. The service is booked by the guide when the guided tour is requested, but the rental cost, which is € 1.00 per person for 2 or 3 hours, is charged to the customer and can be paid directly to the guide who will then take care to pay the supplier.
Carers or teachers of school groups do not pay for the rental of the radio.
Opening hours Basilica Santa Croce:
From Monday to Saturday
last admission 5:00 pm
|9:30 – 5:30 pm|
Sundays and holidays of obligation
Epiphany (January 6); Assumption (August 15); All Saints (November 1); Immaculate Conception (8 December);
last admission at 5:00 pm
|12:30 – 17:45|
New Year (January 1), Easter, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13), Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4), Christmas (December 25) and St. Stephen (December 26)
Ticket Price Basilica di Santa Croce
Free admission for children under the age of 18 and for a fee for accompanying parents
Boys 12-17 years old
Children 0-11 years old
Tickets for the Basilica of Santa Croce can be purchased directly at the ticket office or on the official web store of the Basilica.
The price of the ticket to the Basilica of Santa Croce is not included in the tour rate.
Limit of people per group
Under the current provisions, the group cannot exceed the maximum limit of 30 people, guide included.
The guide does not provide private transport service, which entails the client needs to reach the meeting point established in the route on his own.
To get the contact of a licensed driver who provides private transfer service, as well as getting further information about the tour, please write to:
How to reach Florence Historic centre (click here)
Reachable via the A1 motorway (Firenze Scandicci exit and from there continue towards the center, reaching the area of the Santa Maria Novella station, where there is a multi-storey underground car park (reachable only for vehicles with engines from EURO 6 onwards). From the station underpass, Piazza di Santa Maria Novella can be reached in a few minutes.
As a cheaper alternative to the underground car park, there is the Piazzale Montelungo car park (always subject to charges). An excellent alternative to car parking near the center historic is to leave the vehicle at the Villa Costanza car park and from there take the T1 tram line which takes about 22 minutes to reach the Santa Maria Novella station. The T1 line has stops both before and after the Santa Maria station Novella that can be convenient to reach any accommodation For more information on the Tramvia timetables and stops click here.
By private bus lines
|There are connections of private lines to reach Florence, such as Italbus and Flixbus which reach the Villa Costanza tramway station; from the latter the tram line takes about 22 minutes to reach Santa Maria Novella station. For more info on the Tramvia timetables click here.|
Florence can be reached by plane via the Amerigo Vespucci Airport. From here the historic center is connected:
With the Tram
With Taxi service
Contatctable to the numbers +390554643159 al +390554242 or on the web site clicking here.
Florence can be reached by train with the Trenitalia service. Depending on your accommodation needs, you can arrive in Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Firenze Rifredi or Firenze Campo di Marte. With the regional lines then Florence can also be reached from other cities of Tuscany.
Organised Groups with tourist coach
For organised groups by touristic bus, there are drop-off/drop-on points for passengers in the urban centre of Florence (click here to view the points).
Tourist coaches are subject to the payment of a checkpoint (more information here).
|Camper owners find car parks for campers (only some of these are equipped) in Via delle Porte Sante,, in Via delle Porte Sante, in Viale Abramo Lincoln, in Via Luigi Castaldi, in Largo Alcide De Gasperi, at the Largo Alcide De Gasperi (the latter connected to the center with the Nelli-Torregalli tram stop). For more info on the equipped Campervan areas around Florence click here.|