Visit the Great Cloister at Santa Maria Novella

This weekend take the wonderful opportunity to visit the Great Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, not normally open to the public. Home to the school of Marescialli and Brigadiers of the Carabinieri since 1920, and as such is closed to the public, the Grand Cloister has a magnificent cycle of frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Domenic and other Domenican saints.

2013 marks the first time ever for special openings of the cloister to allow the public to enter and admire the cloister itself and its magnificent works of art.
It is a great occasion to see something not even most Florentines have ever seen themselves. If you’re here this weekend or this fall or winter, take advantage!

UPDATE 01/30/2014: The special openings continue in 2014 – check out the dates here.

In addition, if you visit on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays you can take the chance to join in a guided visit of the entire Santa Maria Novella complex, which just costs an additional 2 euros (on top of entrance ticket). The visit lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes and is conducted in Italian, English and French for groups of up to 25 people. Guided visits are scheduled at 10:30am and 12pm on those three days. If you’re interested in doing the guided visit (which I highly recommend), you should reserve to make sure you get in: book by calling 055-2768224 or 055-2768558 or by email at

Here’s a list of the special openings and times for the large cloister from tomorrow to the end of 2013:

Saturday, August 31: 9-17
Sunday, September 1: 12-17

Saturday, September 7 (Rificolona): 9am-5pm
Sunday, September 8 (Domenica del Fiorentino): 12-5pm

Saturday, September 30 (Bacco artigiano): 9am-5pm

Tuesday, October 8 (Santa Reparata): 9am-5:30pm
Sunday, October 13 (Domenica del Fiorentino): 1-5pm

Friday, November 1 (All Saints): 1-5pm
Saturday, November 2: 9am-5pm
Sunday, November 3: 1-5pm

Sunday, November 10 (Domenica del Fiorentino): 1-5pm

Saturday, November 30 (Festa della Toscana): 9am-5pm

Sunday, December 8 (Immaculate Conception and Domenica del Fiorentino): 1-5pm

Saturday, December 21 (commemoration of Ugo di Toscana): 9am-5pm
Sunday, December 22: 1-5pm

Tuesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve): 9am-5:30pm
Wednesday, December 25 (Christmas): 1-5pm
Thursday, December 26 (Boxer’s Day): 9am-5:30pm

Sunday, December 29: 1-5pm
Monday, December 30: 9am-5:30pm
Tuesday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve): 9am-5pm

Make sure to read more about the Church of Santa Maria Novella and all of the good reasons why you should visit!

UPDATE 01/30/2014: The special openings continue in 2014 – check out the dates here.

About Lourdes Flores

An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!