Beyond Bernardo Buontalenti’s late-16th-century facade lies a dark church, rebuilt in the 14th century but founded by the Vallombrosans before 1177. The third chapel on the right has what remains of the detached frescoes by Spinello Aretino, which were found under Lorenzo Monaco’s 1424 “Scenes from the Life of the Virgin” frescoes covering the next chapel along.
In the right transept, Domenico Ghirlandaio frescoed the Cappella Sassetti in 1483 with a cycle on the “Life of St. Francis,” but true to form he set all the scenes against Florentine backdrops and peopled them with portraits of contemporary notables. His “Francis Receiving the Order from Pope Honorius” (in the lunette) takes place under an arcade on the north side of Piazza della Signoria—the Loggia dei Lanzi is featured in the middle, and on the left is the Palazzo Vecchio. (The Uffizi between them hadn’t been built yet.) In the little group on the far right, the man with the red cloak is Lorenzo the Magnificent, who ruled Florence until his death in 1492. The church was the original home to two of the Uffizi’s greatest treasures, Cimabue’s “Santa Trínita Maestà” and Gentile da Fabriano’s “Procession of the Magi”.
The south end of the piazza leads to the Ponte Santa Trínita, Florence’s most graceful bridge. In 1567, Ammannati built a span here that was set with four 16th-century statues of the seasons in honor of the marriage of Cosimo II. After the Nazis blew up the bridge in 1944, it was rebuilt, and all was set into place—save the head on the statue of Spring, which remained lost until a team dredging the river in 1961 found it by accident. If you want to photograph the Ponte Vecchio, head here at dusk.