The Santo Spirito neighborhood, on the west side of the Oltrarno, features a lively mix of high art and Florentine neighborhood culture. The characteristic neighborhood is filled with tiny streets, two grandiose churches, numerous artisan workshops and ateliers, and lively restaurants. Our exploration of this neighborhood is a walk for the traveler looking to scratch a little more beneath the surface of the city. Our itinerary begins in Piazza Santa Spirito, where we'll pick through the stands of whatever seasonal produce is on display in the morning market and discuss the general history of the neighborhood.
From here, we'll enter Filippo Brunelleschi's 15th century church, Santo Spirito, and make our way through a few of the thirty-eight chapels and wealth of paintings, frescoes, and statuary, including a crucifix by Michelangelo re-discovered in 1963 and only put on display in 2000. (This is a real treat for any return traveler to Florence.) As we wander the spirited streets of the area, we'll poke our heads into the storefronts of leather workers, shoe manufacturers or other artisans who have historically made this neighborhood their home. Eventually, we'll make our way to Santa Maria del Carmine, where Masaccio's famous Brancacci Chapel is located.
Vasari would later remark that with his 1420's work on the Brancacci chapel, Masaccio became the single master of his time that catapulted fresco ahead by decades, resembling the "modern artists". With the time remaining we may continue further west to the neighborhood of San Frediano, or we may double back towards the Arno or explore some of the tiny streets and shops of the neighborhood.