The Church was known as Santa Maria delle Vigne. When the Dominican monks came to Florence in 1221 they began to convent the original structure into the present Church of Santa Maria Novella. The station is near the Church a takes its name. Today this Church is one of the best know and most interesting Churches in Florence. The façade was planned by Leon Battista Alberti in 1470 and financed by Rucellai family. The big sundial is located over the façade for desire of Cosimo I. Michelangelo loved this Church and called it “my girlfriend”.
The interior built to a Latin cross plan, is divided into a nave and two aisles. In the right Chapel it is the tomb of Desiderio da Settignano and a picture of the Vergin, considered miraculous. At the end of the aisle it is Rucellai Chapel with the tomb of Fra’ Dati. In the transept, note the Cappella di Filippo Strozzi, a Chapel decorated with frescoes by Filippo Lippi. The successive Chapel, or Gondi Chapel, is by Guiliano da San Gallo and contains th Crucifix by Brunelleschi, the only wooden sculpture that the artist is known to have made.
The main Chapel, or Tornabuoni Chapel, is frescoed with Scene della vita di Maria e del Battista by Ghiralndaio. On the altar there is a bronze Crucifix by Ghirladaio and a wooden choir by Baccio d’Agnolo. In the left aisle it is another work by Masaccio, and the marble pulpit is a design by Brunelleschi. The Sacresty contains works by Andrea della Robbia, a Crucifix by Giotto and two cloister: the green one is frescoed by Paolo Uccello, the other, the biggest in Florence, is frescoed by Cingoli, Allori, Santi di Tito and Pocetti. Today this cloister is property of Caserma della Scuola Allievi Ufficiali dei Carabinieri.
In front of the Church it is a big square with two pilaster the “boa del giro” in Palio dei Cocchi. In front of Santa Maria Novella it is the famous open Gallery of San Paolo dei Convalescenti.