The Basilica Santa Maria Novella sits on Piazza Santa Maria Novella. This large square used to be the meeting point of festivals and tournaments when it was first built. Around the square are the porticoed Ospedale di San Paolo and the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella where the Dominican monks prepared medicine from herbs and plants for patients in the hospital. The former Dominican laboratory is still open but now operates as a perfume shop.
The first basilica in Florence, it was originally the venue of the Church Council of Florence. Two modifications were carried out in the 1500´s. The first was commissioned to Vasari by Cosimo I in 1567 and the second was carried out by Enrico Romoli. The pieces of art housed in the basilica are from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The many cappellas of the basilica feature work from various artists such as Filippino Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Nardo di Cione, Paolo Rucellai, Nino Pisano, Spinello Aretino, Giotto, Giorgio Vasari, and Andrea Bonaiuti.