What Rick Steves forgot
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What Rick Steves forgot

With the arrival of winter, many tourists have returned to their hometowns, which means the city is quieter and much less chaotic, making it a lovely time to enjoy Florence. Visitors usually head first to the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi, but there are so many other noteworthy historic sites

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Thu 02 Feb 2012 1:00 AM

With the
arrival of winter, many tourists have returned to their hometowns, which means
the city is quieter and much less chaotic, making it a lovely time to enjoy
Florence. Visitors usually head first to the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi,
but there are so many other noteworthy historic sites that do not make it into
the top travel guides. So grab a map and explore the other treasures of
Florence.

 

 

Sant’Ambrogio
is a small, quaint, simple church on via Pietrapiana. However, the art inside
is rich and plentiful, and the feeling one gets stepping inside the doors is
both welcoming and spiritually soothing.

 

The10th-century
church may have older origins; built to commemorate where Saint Ambrose, Bishop
of Milan, stayed in Florence in 393, it underwent changes through the 15th and
16th centuries. Due to the natural disaster, known as the Flood of 1966, much
of the church was destroyed. The architectural remains were stable, but the
church had to undergo renovations.

 

Some of the
artwork in the church includes a Madonna Enthroned with Saints John and
Bartholomew by Andrea Orcagna and Jesus among the Saints by Cosimo Rosselli.
Other treasures once housed in the Sant’Ambrogio church, such as the Sant’Anna
Metterza by Masaccio and Masolino da Panicale, can be found today in the Uffizi
gallery. In addition, Francesco Granacci, Italian Renaissance painter and
friend of Michelangelo, is buried in this church. Prior to his death, Granacci
journeyed to Rome to help assist his friend with the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel.

 

This ancient
building serves a vibrant community. Residents and visitors are welcomed to
enter Monday through Friday for mass at 6:30am; on Saturdays at 6am and Sundays
at 9 and 10:15am, and 6pm. Locals are encouraged to join church officials in
community outreach as they prepare meals for the homeless. The church offers
religious education and scripture reading for adults and children. (Schedules
are posted outside the chapel.) Every summer, the church picks an inexpensive
location to conduct a retreat for the youth ministry. Children and adolescents
head to the mountains or countryside, and throughout the year, they take part in
numerous activities, from bible study to sports.

 

Iva Iacopini,
70, member of the Sant’Ambrogio congregation, explains why she feels the church
is worth visiting: ‘The masterpieces of art date back to the late middle age
and Renaissance period. The foundation is from the Roman period, although
rebuilt. The 14 fresco paintings tell the story of the crucifixion of Christ
and His resurrection.’ Many of the frescos are by Sandro Botticelli, Filippo
Lippi and Fra Bartolomeo.

 

Open daily
and always free of charge, plan to step in and enlighten yourself about the
impact of the church on the community, the style of worship and the incredible
art history it contains.

 

Google Maps and Panoramic Earth have created
a 360-degree panorama and virtual tour of the church, dediacted to Saint
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. Go to www.panoramicearth.com/5409/Florence/Chiesa_di_Sant_Ambrogio_Church.

 

 

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