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Santa Croce – the pantheon of the artists


di Nicoletta Curradi[…] Blessed because one temple still preserves / Italy’s glories […]” are Electronic Cigarette a couple of the lines of the poem, ‘Dei Sepolcri’ by Ugo Foscolo, which illustrate the importance of the Franciscan basilica of Santa Croce to Florence, one of the greatest Gothic buildings in Italy.
It is known as the Temple of the Italian Glories with the numerous graves of illustrious artists, literati and scientists. It is a prestigious
symbol, the meeting place of the greatest artists, theologians, religious figures, literati, humanists and politicians who determined the identity of the late Medieval and Renaissance city.

Famous Church figures are also found inside the basilica like Saint Bonaventure, Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Bernardino of Siena.
The floor of the basilica is home to 276 marble slabs with reliefs and carved coats of arms and many funerary monuments are on the walls including the Vasari-style altars, notwithstanding the cutbacks in the Sixties, which removed most of the 19th-century aristocratic tombs, now in a corridor beneath the loggia of the Great Cloister.

Although the basilica was used as the burial place of illustrious figures like other churches, it became a true pantheon of famous people in the 19th century.
In 1871, Ugo Foscolo was buried here in a crowded ceremony (he died in England in 1827), according to his wish to be laid to rest next to great Tuscan figures like Michelangelo and Galileo.
After this episode, other famous bodies started to arrive even years later, including Gioacchino Rossini, Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri and others, for whom the best sculptors made monuments that still line the nave. A great burial ground was also prepared for Dante, but Ravenna absolutely refused to hand over the relics of the poet who had died in exile.

Santa Croce ended up being the resting place of 15,000 bodies, with a huge number of requests after its reputation as the home of the Urne de’ forti (the tomb of Ugo Foscolo) had spread.
All the requests were examined by a designated commission and approved by the grand duke in person, who also decided upon the donation.In terms of the old monuments, there’s the illustrious figure of Leonardo Bruni, for whom Bernardo Rossellino designed a Renaissance arcosolium tomb (1444-45), that is to say, with the grave positioned behind a recess consisting of a step and a round arch that ends high up. The tomb of his successor, Carlo Marsuppini, was created in the same way by Desiderio da Settignano.

photo by: Barbara Mealli


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