Santa Maria Novella is a place name which comes up several times in Florence. It is the name of the central train station; the bus station is tucked into a side-street nearby. It is also a huge square where people celebrate various holidays, including the New Year. The church, built between 1221-1360, does not look too imposing when seen from the train station, it is large brownish building with a cloister attached. From the square, it is a totally different story. The beautiful façade was made in the 15th century; it was clearly an inspiration for several much later renovations around the city. As every church in town, it is decorated by the famous Renaissance artists. A line of tourists stands outside waiting to enter the garden and the museum. We went inside the main church building right after the holidays, once we saw that there were no crowds, in between services. The church visit is free, same as the Duomo. It is huge, and the interior is very impressive, with the tall stained glass windows, all the traditional frescoes and paintings, and various Christmas season displays. The museum was closed, so we walked at leisure around the courtyard, looking at the lovely Nativity scenes which were to be dismantled next day. It was a nice farewell experience. In a side-street, incongruously, we saw a statue of Marylin Monroe (I think) standing in front of a cafe. Well, it’s a rtibute to the times. There are so many impressions, so much Beauty everywhere, and such a feeling of History that the soul seems to be sated. When you come back home, you can look up every place you visited, every attraction you have seen, compare all the famous works of art with your own photos, learn again which artist painted which picture or fresco, which architect designed which dome, and when each structure was built. But while walking around, absorbing the views, just enjoy. Let it all soak in, form a tapestry in your memory, enrich your heart and soul.





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