We visited Basilica di Santa Croce during our recent trip in Florence (5 Euro per person) which included entrance to the entire church and museum in the back. We loved Santa Croce and felt there was a surprising amount of excellent things to see within this church, making it every bit as good if not better than the famous Duomo, at least as far as what you can see within its wall.
What we liked: The façade of the Santa Croce church is nice but not on the same scale as the façade found at the Duomo. The inside nave area is surprisingly large and surrounded by some very impressive pieces, including the tombs of the great Michelangelo, Galileo, Leonardo Bruni, Dante (monument) among others.
We also liked the high alter piece, although you'll see quite similar pieces elsewhere. We really liked the Donatello Pietra sculture, the pulpit, carved by Benedetto and the bronze statue of St. Francis. Further, there were several chapels that were colorfully frescoed, similar but not as wonderful as the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria di Carmine. Nevertheless, they were very beautiful.
Additionally, there is a very good museo (Opera) in Santa Croce with a few very nice pieces, like 12th century crucifix of Cimbaue and the ‘Descent of Christ Into Limbo' by Angelo Bronzino and the 'Deposition From the Cross' by Francesco Salviati.
There is also the historically important Pazzi Chapel, although we actually preferred the smaller, more highly decorated chapels within Santa Croce
Overall, we feel Santa Croce is a real star on the Florence museum and church scene. Located in any other city in the world and this would very well be the most important attraction in the city. However, this if Florence and competition for that honor is as stiff as it comes. Regardless, if we were to create a Top Five list for Florence, this would very well contend for inclusion
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