Restoring a Renaissance Gem: The Pazzi Chapel

Pazzi Chapel, Florence. Photograph by Benjamin Cawthra.

Pazzi Chapel, Florence. Photograph by Benjamin Cawthra.

The Pazzi Chapel in Florence is one of the glories of Renaissance architecture. I’ve mused upon it before, but now I write in order to help the chapel endure in future years. The loggia of the chapel is in need of restoration, and a campaign is underway to help with the costs. I have a special feeling for the Pazzi for several reasons. One of my undergraduate professors (the great Richard Emmerson) did a fantastic job describing its qualities and significance to my class about thirty years ago, and he made me want to make sure I visited some day. Then, years later, I actually got to live in the Santa Croce neighborhood while teaching in Florence for the summer. Each teaching day I walked down the street along the nave of the church, turned left at the statue of Dante, continued past the facade of Santa Croce, and past the iron gate where you can see the Pazzi Chapel across the cloister. Its elegant lines, designed by Brunelleschi, are cool and inviting at the same time. I’ve gone on tours of Santa Croce with my students and they marveled at the simplicity and beauty of the Pazzi. The chapel, with its terra cotta Luca della Robia roundels, has survived half a millennium and terrible floods, including the 1966 one that so devastated the church and its surrounding, low-lying neighborhood. Now the Pazzi’s loggia is in need of help. Its soft grey sandstone gives the chapel its delicate look, but it is also more susceptible to the elements. Consider making a gift to help the Pazzi so that it can remain what it is–a calm, peaceful, and completely original space that helps make Florence such a remarkable place. It may not garner the long summer lines of day tourists that you will see waiting to catch a glimpse of Michelangelo’s David or queuing up to climb the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, but it is a place full of character and an essential marker of the Italian Renaissance.

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