Themed tours

A story 800 years in the making

Different original themed tours illustrate the multi-faceted history of Santa Croce, a unique complex where civic and religious values are so closely interwoven. 

Please note: Tours are held in Italian, and last 60 minutes. The itineraries are only partly accessible to visitors with impaired movement due to the presence of steps.

It is possible to request the following visits by writing to

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. It will be an opportunity to see the famous cycle with the Stories of st. Francis before the start of the long restoration work that will take place in the Bardi chapel.

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

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.

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

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.

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