The wonder of Florentine baroque

Church of Santi Michele e Gaetano 2
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Church of Santi Michele e Gaetano

On the Piazza Antinori, there is one of the most important examples of the Baroque style in Florence: the Church of Saints Michele and Gaetano. The origins of this church date back to the eleventh century, but the original building was radically changed around 1600. It was given in 1592 to the Theatine order, who obtained funding from the noble families in Florence, including the Medici’s. The original designs were by Bernardo Buontalenti but a number of architects gave a hand in building it, each of whom changed the design. The two most important architects were Matteo Nigetti and Gherardo Silvani.

Church of Santi Michele e Gaetano 3

The name of the church is Santi Michele e Gaetano, because it was built at the site of a Romanesque church, San Michele Bertelde, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, and was dedicated to San Gaetano (Saint Cajetan in English), one of the founders of the Theatine order, though the church could not formally be named after him until his canonisation in 1671.

The façade, with its sculptural decorations, is built entirely of pietra forte and represents a sublime example of Florentine Baroque; it’s also highly atypical for Florentine churches, which had a predilection for geometrically ornamented façades. The sides of the chapels contain one of the most important seventeenth century marble cycles with marble statues depicting the Apostles and Evangelists.