Themed tours

A story 800 years in the making

Four original themed tours illustrate the multi-faceted history of Santa Croce, a unique complex where civic and religious values are so closely interwoven. The tours also offer you a chance to explore some of the fascinating spaces that are not part of the normal visitor experience and to admire from close up such masterpieces as Cimabue's and Donatello's Crucifixes, Agnolo Gaddi's 14th century frescoes in the chancel chapel and the Famedio, dedicated to the fallen in both world wars.

Please note: Tours are held in Italian, and last 70 minutes. The itineraries are only partly accessible to visitors with impaired movement due to the presence of steps.

Full price: 25 euro
Concessions: 20 euro

Admission includes priority access to the complex, a guided tour and carefully sanitised audio systems.

The Power of Images: the message of St. Francis

Why did Giotto depict St. Francis without a beard when the saint himself urged his followers not to shave? Why did Coppo di Marcovaldo paint certain episodes in St. Francis's life in the mid-13th century which were never repeated thereafter? These are some of the questions we explore in this tour that lifts the veil on many of the secrets and details of the way St. Francis's message was interpreted by the artists who worked in Santa Croce. In the course of its history, Santa Croce has accompanied its Franciscan religious identity with a secular identity based on the celebration of men and women renowned for their civic virtues.

On this tour we also visit the interior of the Bardi di Vernio Chapel to admire Donatello's moving Crucifix from close up.

Benedetto da Maiano, San Francesco riceve le stimmate, dettaglio del pulpito con Storie di san Francesco, 1481-1487. Basilica di Santa Croce, navata centrale

Giotto, painter in Santa Croce and entrepreneur in Florence

Santa Croce has a unique repertoire of Giotto's work ranging from wall paintings to tempera on wood and to stained-glass windows, all testifying to the new style of the 14th century. Giotto's life and career form the basis for our exploration of  the birth of Santa Croce and the relationship between St. Francis's message and the church's wealthy patrons, the history of the Order of Friars Minor and the history of Florence. Examining people's approach to the church in the Middle Ages through an analysis of the works especially commissioned for Santa Croce, we learn about the role of the artist, about the social, economic and cultural context of Florence in the 13th and 14th centuries and about Giotto's talents as a businessman.

This tour allows us to admire from the close up the majestic Crucifix painted by Cimabue, who is traditionally held to have been Giotto's master.

Giotto, St. Francis appears to Brother Agostino and to Bishop Guido of Assisi, scene from the Stories of St. Francis, c. 1317–21. Basilica of Santa Croce, Bardi Chapel

Wealth and Poverty: bankers and saints

In the basilica of Santa Croce, the message of St. Francis lives side by side with the ostentation of power and wealth by Florence's leading families through the work they commissioned from the greatest artists.

We discover how money, wealth and the religious spirit found a singular point of convergence in the masterpieces present in the Santa Croce complex.

The tour also includes access to the Bardi di Mangona Chapel.

Andrea Orcagna, Hell, detail, 1345 ca. Basilica of Santa Croce, Refectory

Dante: building the memory of the great and good

Sante Croce celebrates Dante 700 years after his death with this special tour that explores the impact of his work on medieval art and the history of the construction of his memory in the basilica.
Dante died in exile in Ravenna in 1321. Florence built a cenotaph (i.e. an "empty tomb") to him in Santa Croce, which was not recognised as the Pantheon of the Italian nation until the 19th century. The tour also offers you the opportunity to explore the way the concept of "memory" has changed over the centuries, as we review the history of the monumental tombs of Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Galileo, Foscolo and Alfieri.

The tour ends with a special visit to Santa Croce's haunting undercroft, the shrine and "famedio" commemorating the fallen in both world wars.

Stefano Ricci, Dante Alighieri, detail of the Cenotaph of Dante Alighieri, 1818-1829. Basilica of Santa Croce, south aisle