Brunelleschi’s basilica of Santo Spirito in Florence was not only a product of creative genius, but also of communal bureaucracy, socio-economic traditions, human and financial resources, factionalism, and rivalry. This complex network of forces behind the monument serves as testimony to the determination and capacity of Renaissance Florentines to actualize the creative ideas of the extraordinary artists and architects who were transforming the profile of the city. Moreover, it reveals that the labor, spirit, and energy of those human beings who were building Renaissance Florence were just as important to its manufacture as the brick, stone and wood used to build it.

By investigating those aspects that defined the building tradition of the Renaissance – the architect, the Opera (building committee), the quartiere (neighborhood), the cantiere (worksite and workforce) – we discover that behind a great monument lies a monumental account of collective human achievement.

Rocky Ruggiero received his Ph.D. at the University of Exeter, UK, and is now Professor of Art History at Kent State University Florence. In addition to lecturing for various American other North American Universities in Florence, including Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College, he has starred in various TV documentaries concerning the Italian Renaissance.

Rocky Ruggiero
About Dr. Rocky

Rocky Ruggiero has been a professor of Art and Architectural History since 1999. He received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross and a Master of Arts degree from Syracuse University, where he was awarded a prestigious Florence Fellowship in 1996. He furthered his art historical studies at the University of Exeter, UK, where he received a Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Culture.

In addition to lecturing for various American universities in Florence, Italy, including Syracuse, Kent State, Vanderbilt, and Boston College, Rocky has starred in various TV documentaries concerning the Italian Renaissance.

He has appeared as an expert witness in the History Channel’s “Engineering an Empire: Da Vinci’s World” and “Museum Secrets: the Uffizi Gallery”, as well as the recent NatGeo/NOVA PBS program on Brunelleschi’s dome entitled “Great Cathedral Mystery.”

Table Of Contents


List of Illustrations


Introduction: Rebuilding the History of Santo Spirito

  1. Medieval Florence and the Old Church of Santo Spirito

  2. Brunelleschi and the New Church of Santo Spirito

  3. The Opera of Santo Spirito

  4. The Patron’s Conundrum – Family Chapels

  5. Patterns of Patronage at Santo Spirito

  6. Brunelleschi’s Architectural Inheritance

  7. Finances and the Cantiere

  8. Towards Completion

  9. The Errors Made and Consented to by Others




"So many of the people I have met have expressed the desire to experience the art and history of this great country not simply as transient tourists, but as students."
Rocky Ruggiero
NBC News
The Smithsonian Associates
The History Channel
Travel + Leisure
National Geographic
Young Presidents' Organization
Friends of the Uffizi Gallery
Syracuse University
Palazzo Tornabuoni
Ohio Kent State University
Boston College
Contact Us
Weekdays 9am - 5pm ET
P.O. Box 241
East Greenwich, RI 02818
Latest News & Offers
Subscribe now to receive information on Rocky's latest study programs, lectures, interesting posts and much more!
© 2024 Rocky Ruggiero. All Rights Reserved.