Santa Croce
Church of Santa Croce - The church of Santa Croce is famous for it's lovely Giotto frescoes, depicting the life of St. Francis, but it's most fun for the famous people buried inside.
You won't be able to walk through the church nave without stepping on tons of tombstones on the floor, and stopping to look at different marble monuments of artists, scholars, scientists, musicians. On one side of the church is Michelangelo's tomb - right across the way is a monument and tomb of Galileo. Next to Michelangelo is a memorial to Dante (he's buried in Ravenna), Machiavelli's tomb is next door.
Piazza Santa Croce - In the center of the large square is a statue of Dante, surrounded by four lions (another symbol of Florence).
This big wide piazza has a long history of games and celebrations. Kids will just have to imagine the jousting tournament in the piazza in 1469 in to celebrate Lorenzo the Magnificent's engagement. The knights wore armor and plumed helmets, Lorenzo rode on a white horse, carrying a diamond studded Medici shield.
In December, Piazza Santa Croce has a large Christmas market, with nativity scenes, wooden chalet stalls, a carousel, lights and decorations.
Casa Buonarroti (Via Ghibellina 70) - Michelangelo grew up in the Santa Croce neighborhood, and often went to the church to see the frescoes and sculptures. He bought this house in 1508, and left it to his descendants, who lived in and expanded the house through generations.
Kids will enjoy the marble relief sculpture, Madonna of the Steps, Michelangelo's oldest existing work of art, which he carved as a teenager! The pose of Mary and the Christ child, and two other children playing is so realistic, Michelangelo's originality and genius is immediate.
Also in the museum is a wonderful portrait of Michelangelo, wearing a turban, looking very adventurous and pensive at the same time.
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