Address: Piazza San Lorenzo
Consecrated by St. Ambrose in 393, it is the oldest church in the
city. It was then rebuilt along Romanesque lines in 1060. The
present building dates to 1423 and was designed and built by
The simple bare facade lacks the marble revetment; Michelangelo's
design was never carried out. The internal facade which
Michelangelo also designed is comprised of three doors between
two pilasters with garlands of oak and laurel and a balcony on
two Corinthian columns.
The interior has a nave separated from the side aisles by
Corinthian columns. The ceiling has magnificent gilded rosettes
in white-ground coffering. The second chapel of the right aisle
contains the Wedding of the Virgin by Rosso Fiorentino (1523)
with the brilliant coloring typical of the Mannerist painters;
next to it is the Gothic tomb slab of F. Landini, organist,
carved in 1398. After the two paintings of St. Lawrence and the
Adoration of the Magi comes the ciborium of 1461 by Desiderio da
In the right-hand chapel of the transept is a Roman sarcophagus,
reused for the burial of Niccolò Stenone; in the main
chapel is a marble Crucifix by Baccio da Montelupo, while the
central dome is frescoed with Florentine Saints in Glory by
Vincenzo Meucci (1742). The left transept contains the wooden
statue of the Madonna and Child, a polychromed late 14th-century
work, the painting of Saints by the school of Ghirlandaio and
Filippo Lippi's Annunciation diptych. The Annunciation dates to
1440 and has a remarkable feeling for space thanks to the
three-dimensionality of the figures and the perspective sudy of
the building in the background.
aisle contains the large fresco with the Martyrdom of St.
Lawrence by Bronzino (1565-1569) and the marble choir-loft which
may have been designed by Donatello. Under the arches of the last
two bays of the nave are Donatello's two bronze pulpits, like two
large classic arches on columns. The Dionysiac scenes which fill
in the empty spaces betray their inspiration from ancient
monuments. The panel executed by Donatello's pupils, Bellano and
Bertoldo, include the Crucifixion, the Deposition, part of the
Passion of Christ, St. John the Evangelist and the Flagellation
on the left pulpit and the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, the
Resurrection and the other part of the Passion on the right
The Sacrestia Vecchia or Old Sacristy at the back of the left
transept was built by Brunelleschi between 1419 and 1428. Earlier
than the church, the sacristy is the first example of early
Renaissance architecture and of the work of Brunelleschi in
Florence. A dome covers the square room and a square apse opens
off one wall. The structural lines are stressed by stone molding.
Eight roundels by Donatello (1435-1443) with the Four Evangelists
and Scenes from the Life of St. John are set into the pendentives
and the lunettes. The bronze doors and the stucco reliefs over
the doors are also by Donatello, while the funeral monument to
Piero and Giovanni de' Medici (1472) is by Andrea del Verrocchio.
Andrea Cavalcanti made the balustrade of the apse after a design
by Donatello, as well as the sarcophagus of Giovanni Bicci de'
Medici and his wife.
On the opposite side, near the right transept of the church, is
the Sacrestia Nuova with the entrance from the outside.