The tabernacles are a living part of the art history of Florence and a testimony of the religious feeling of the town.
Tabernacles are little aedicules, niches with sculptures, windows with frescoes or columns with a little roof, we can see them on the corners of streets or in a side of a square or also in a narrow street.
Why did the Florentines build these tabernacles? There are two reasons: one was the fight against the heretics and the second was the plague. In both the cases people felt the need to put holy images, mainly of the Virgin Mary, in the streets, over the doors, on the cross, to protect their houses and their families. These imagines where often accompanied with prayers painted aside or under the holy imagine. Over the tabernacle, in the centre of it usually there is an ancient votive lamp.
The most important tabernacle in Florence is in Orsanmichele Church, made by Andrea Orcagna who built an important tabernacle in the style which later was named “Flamboyant gothic”.
In this part I wrote a list of the most famous tabernacles of Florence, as it is not easy to find books or guide books on this subject.
I put also a map where these tabernacles are marked, you need not to read or see all of them, but if you have time, while you are walking around to visit the main monuments of Florence, you can also notice these art works that sometimes are really very remarkable art works.
If you your stay in Florence is long enough, you can also spend some hours walking in the city centre and looking for these hidden tabernacles. To take photos of them is very difficult because they are always protected with glass (dirty) and this glass reflects everything; anyway, maybe you are more lucky than me!
- Tabernacle of Via degli Alfani (angolo Borgo Pinti)
Large and fine good stone frame. The fresco represents Holy Mary with St John and St Peter, also here the Baby is holding a little bird.
- Tabernacle of Via degli Alfani (angolo Borgo Pinti)
In front of the tabernacle of Holy Mary, one of the few tabernacles without the Virgin, but with a statue of St Sebastian.
- Tabernacle of Via dei Pepi/via dei Pilastri
Here is one more tabernacle without the Virgin, this is St George fighting against the dragon. Nice, coloured and almost modern picture.
- Tabernacle of Via Pietrapiana/via dei Pepi
Wonderful Terracotta sculpture of the Virgin with the Holy Baby in a simple frame. The plastic movement of the imagine and the elegant details (like Mary’s clip or the chair) remember Donatello’s art.
- Tabernacle of Piazza de’ Ciompi/Via Pietrapiana
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Macci/Borgo La Croce
In this tabernacle you can see S. Ambrogio, the Saint who give name to all the neighbour
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Macci/Borgo La Croce (in front)
- Tabernacle of Via dell’Agnolo/Via Buonarroti
The big flood destroyed a part of this painting, which now has only a simple drawning.
- Tabernacle of Borgo Allegri/Via Ghibellina
Tabernacle with the Holy Family, this painting was behind a more ancient painting which was found after the big flood in 1966
- Tabernacle of Via delle Casine/Via de’ Malcontenti
Malcontenti means unhappy in this street passed those who had been sentenced to death. Here you can see the Virgin with the Baby, two Saints and two angels.
- Tabernacle of Via delle Conce/Via dei Conciatori
- Tabernacle of Via G. da Verrazzano/Via Ghibellina
Painted by Giovanni di San Giovanni (1596 – 1636). Holy Mary with the Baby and St. Joseph a side St. Giovannino
- Tabernacle of Via Ghibellina/Via Verdi
- Tabernacle of Via Ghibellina/Via delle Stinche
In this area there was once a jail, to invite the people to take care of the prisoners who need everything, they placed this tabernacle with a member of Senate with Jesus, who is giving charity to a prisoner.
- Tabernacle of Via Ghibellina/Via dell’Acqua
- Tabernacle of Piazza San Firenze/Via dell’Anguillara
- Tabernacle of Piazza Signoria/Via dei Magazzini
Fresco painted by Alessandro Gherardini ( 1655 – 1726). Annunciation
- Tabernacle of Via della Condotta/Via delle Farine
- Tabernacle of Via delle Farine/Via della Condotta
Once, on a stone console, there was a wooden tabernacle, without any picture. The famous antiquary of Florence, Luigi Bellini, gave this sculpture to the town. The sculpture could be made by Jacopo della Quercia (1374/1438), but it is not sure. Anyway this is an example of a Florentine who do not hesitate to give a part of his personal estate to enrich the artistic heritage of a town like Forence which is considered all over the world a capital of the spirit and therefore of art.
- Tabernacle of Via Via de’ Cimatori/Via de’ Cerchi
- Tabernacle of Via Orsanmichele (Via dell’arte della Lana)
Named "Tabernacle of the trumpets" ( “Tabernacolo delle Trombe”)
Painted by Jacopo del Casentino (1293/1358)
A central Virgin Mary with a sturdy Baby, six angels and St John patron saint of Florence, St. Peter.
- Tabernacle of Via Santa Margherita/Via del Corso
- Tabernacle of Via dello Studio/Via dell’Oche
St Anne and the Virgin by Primo Conti in 1954
- Tabernacle of Via del Campanile/Via di Canonica
Typical renaissance painting (the ceiling) Holy Mary and the baby with St John and St. Onofrio the hermit.
- Tabernacle of Piazza San Martino
In this nice square you can admire the tabernacle, the church and the little hole of wine (see further “ The tabernacles of the wine”
- Tabernacle of Via Santa Margherita/Via Dante Alighieri
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Giraldi/Borgo degli Albizi
This is one of the most decorated tabenacles of Florence, its architecture reminds the architecture of the Orcagna’s tabernacle in Orsanmichele. Holy Mary and the little Jesus, the Baby has his foot on his mother’s hand, the painter is Jacopo del Casentino (1297/1350)
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Maccheroni
Also this large tabernacle represents the Virgin with the Baby who’s holding a little bird.
- Tabernacle of Via Folco Portinari
In a nice stone frame with heads of angels, Holy Mary with the Baby, the fresco was painted by Matteo Rosselli (1578 – 1650).
- Tabernacle of Piazza Mentana/Via Mosca
Wooden gold plated tabernacle, Holy Mary and the Baby (second half of 15th century)
- Tabernacle of Via Vacchereccia/Via Malaspina
A Florentine lady who likes to be anonymous, bought this Tabernacle in a public auction and gave it to Florence.
- Tabernacle of Via Vacchereccia
This is the “Virgin of the peace” it was collocated in 1954 by a group of Fiorentine women.
- Tabernacolo della borsa merci
Located in front of “porcellino” statue, this tabernacle was destroyed during the second world war and replaced with a new painting by Giovanni Colacicchi (1900)
- Tabernacle of Via Val di Lamona
Very good and well manteined fresco (1300): one of the few not with Holy Mary but with Christ getting out from His tomb.
- Tabernacle of via de’ Tornabuoni
- Tabernacle of Via della Spada XXIX
- Tabernacle of Via del Sole/Via delle Belle Donne
Big tabernacle in a scarp building representing a Pope who became Saint: Sisto. The Pope is in the centre, over him the Adoration of the Cross by St Dominucus and St. Francis , aside 4 angels, in the intrados: St Catherine and St. John.Very beautiful painting by Nicolò di Tommaso (1343/1376)
- Tabernacle of Via Tornabuoni
Very beautiful tabernacle in wood the painting shows the Virgin with the Holy Baby (end of 14th century)
- Tabernacle of via de’ Tavolini
Delightful painting, made by Giovanni dal Ponte ( end of 1300) with the Holy Baby keeping in his hand a little bird.
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Pecori
Very difficult to see this beautiful tabernacle is on a little corner in Via de’ Pecori just over a fabric shop
- Tabernacle of Via Piazza Strozzi
- Tabernacle of Via Cerretani/Borgo San Lorenzo tav XXIV
Classic Style tabernacle frame, the painting is older and represents the Virgin with the Holy Baby who’s playing with a bird.
- Tabernacle of Piazza dell’Unità/Via Sant’Antonino
Della Robbia Style, for this Holy Mary with the Baby; beautiful bright colour.
- Tabernacle of Piazza Santa Maria Novella/Via della Scala
Big fresco by Francesco d’Antonio del Chierico, second half of 15th century .
The paint you see is a copy made by Tullio Micheli in 1960
- Tabernacle of Via Benedetta/Via della Scala
- Tabernacle of Via Canacci/Via della Scala
- Tabernacle of Via dell’ Albero/Via della Scala
In 1954 was placet here this bas relief by Pellegrino Banella
- Tabernacle of Via Sant’Antonino/Via Faenza
Nice tabernacle in Della Robbia Style:
- Tabernacle of Via dell’ Ariento Le Fonticine XLVII
- Tabernacle of Via Via Nazionale/Via dell’Ariento
Sclpture of the Virgin with the Holy Baby in Della Robbia Style
- Tabernacle of Via Nazionale
Probably painted by Giovanni Antonio Sogliano (1492 – 1544) this Virgin is no more a Hieratic imagine but a young mother with her baby.
- Tabernacle of Via Martelli
- Tabernacle of Via Bufalini/Via de’ Servi
- Tabernacle of Via Ricasoli/Via de’ Pucci
This tabernacle is named “Five lamps tabernacle” because of the lamps hanging from the 19th century frame. The two frescoes are one of the 14th and the other of the 15th century.
- Tabernacle of Via de’ Pucci/Via Cavour
Frame in baroque style, the inside bas-relief is by Desiderio da Settignano (1428/1464) the original is in Bargello museum.
- Tabernacle of Via Cavour/Piazza San Marco
- Tabernacle of Via Cavour/Piazza San Marco
I salso named “Tabernacle of the rose” as the Virgin is holding a white rose in her hand, painted by Gherardo di Giovanni (1440/1497)
- Tabernacle of Via San Gallo/Via delle Ruote
This is only a part of an ancient picture, here we can admire Holy Mary feeling the Baby; on the left a saint holding a palm in one hand and pincers in the other one. This seems to be St Apollonia who was martyrized tearing up all her teeth. Once in the neighbour was a sisters’ monastery of this Saint.
- Tabernacle of Via delle Ruote/Via Santa Reparata
The painting is very probably by Alessandro Allori (Called Bronzino – 1353/1607) Original the assumption of the Virgin with angels and the two st. Jonh: the Evangelist and the Baptist.
- Tabernacle of Via delle Ruote/Via San Zanobi
The name “Via delle Ruote” comes from a nerby monastery af St Catherine’s Sisters. St Catherine from Alessandria was martyred by a wheel which is rapresented in the right part of the paint. Vasari tells the picture was made by Domenico Puligno (1492/1527). Also the architectonic part of the tabernacle is beautiful and elegant.
- Tabernacle of the Madonnone (Via Aretina – Via di San Salvi)
In Florence we call this Tabernacle and the area around it “Il Madonnone” which means “A Big Holy Mary” in fact this tabernacle is very big, painted by Lorenzo di Bicci (1350/1427) or by his son Bicci di Lorenzo (1373/1472). The original painting is now in San Salvi church. The Virgin has an extremely sweet face, and while is offering her breast to the Baby, She hides it with a veil and with her hand.