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Santa Maria Novella: here’s what you need to know

Santa Maria Novella church in Florence (Getty Images)

British prime minister Theresa May is to deliver her most significant speech yet on Brexit in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence on Friday.

The spectacular architecture and artwork will form an impressive backdrop as the prime minister explains her vision of post-Brexit Britain.

However, some wonder why this Protestant PM has chosen a Catholic church, of all places, to spell out her break from Europe.

Quick facts:

  • The church was built between 1279 and 1360 by the Dominican order.
  • The Dominicans commissioned the church after being assigned to a much smaller 9th Century church on the same site.
  • Santa Maria Novella is a notable example of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, marking a transition between the two styles.
  • The church contains a vast collection of artwork by artists such as Botticelli, D’Agnolo, Bronzino, Duccio, Giotto, Lippi, Masaccio and Rossellino.
  • Michelangelo was so enamoured with the church he called it “my bride”.
  • In December 1614, Tommaso Caccini preached one of the first sermons against Galileo in the church. This was one of the main triggers in bringing Galileo before the inquisition.

Downing Street has yet to explain exactly why it chose the venue.