Santa Felícita ☆☆☆

The Chapter House, with central 'Crucifixion' fresco (1387) by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, Santa Felícita, Florence, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
The Chapter House, with central 'Crucifixion' fresco (1387) by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini

One of the oldest churches in Florence is decorated with Mannerist masterpieces

The 2nd-century Syrian Greek sailors who lived in this neighborhood brought Christianity to Florence with them, and this little church—dedicated to Roman martyr St. Felicity—was probably the second to be established in the city (after San Lorenzo).

The first edition of the church was built in the late 4th century—the granite column on the pocket piazza out front that looks vaguely like it belongs to a Roman ruin was actually placed there in 1381 to mark the site of Florence's first Chrsitian cemetery (later excavatiosn discovered a tomb dated AD 405).

The current version of Santa Felícita was rebuilt in the 1730s, but its star attractions are from the 16th century Mannerist era.

The best are in the first chapel on your right, the Brunelleschi-designed Cappella Capponi: Paintings by Mannerist master Pontormo (1525–27).

Pomtormo's The Deposition (or Descent from the Cross) and frescoed Annunciation are rife with his garish color palette of oranges, pinks, golds, lime greens, and sky blues.

The four round paintings of the Evangelists surrounding the dome are also by Pontormo, except for the St. Mark (with the angel), which was probably painted by his pupil Bronzino.

There are also works by Ridolfo GhirlandaioSanti di Tito (the Adoration of the Shepherds on the High Altar—though this might be by Francesco Brina) and a 19th century Matryrdom of the Maccabei Brothers by Antonio Ciseri on the fourth altar on the right.

The best, perhaps, is the Gothic Madonna with Child and Saints in the Sacristy by 14th century master Taddeo Gaddi.

The best view of the church is the peek-a-boo glimpse you get from Cosimo I's private balcony—like a operatic box seat so the Grand Duke and his family could attend Mass without mixing with the masses—but you only get that when you tour the Vasari Corridor, which cuts right across the facade en route from the Uffizi to the Pitti Pelace.

Photo gallery
  • The Chapter House, with central
  • The facade, Santa Felícita, Italy (Photo by Paul VanDerWerf)
  • The nave, Santa Felícita, Italy (Photo by Luca Aless)
  • The Cappella Capponi, Santa Felícita, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • View of the church interior from the Vasari Corridor, Santa Felícita, Italy (Photo by ashtanga2004)
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How long does Santa Felícita take?

Give it about 15 minutes to peruse the paintings.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).