The next Piazza is that of S. Ambrogio. This church is interesting not only for doing its work in a poor quarter—one has the feeling at once that it is a right church in the right place—but as containing, as I have said, the grave of Mino da Fiesole: Mino de’ Poppi detto da Fiesole, as the floor tablet has it. Over the altar of Mino’s little chapel is a large tabernacle from his hand, in which the gayest little Boy gives the benediction, own brother to that one by Desiderio at S. Lorenzo. The tabernacle must be one of the master’s finest works, and beneath it is a relief in which a priest pours something—perhaps the very blood of Christ which is kept here—from one chalice to another held by a kneeling woman, surrounded by other kneeling women, which is a marvel of flowing beauty and life. The lines of it are peculiarly lovely.
On the wall of the same little chapel is a fresco by Cosimo Rosselli which must once have been a delight, representing a procession of Corpus Christi—this chapel being dedicated to the miracle of the Sacrament—and it contains, according to Vasari, a speaking likeness of Pico della Mirandola. Other graves in the church are those of Cronaca, the architect of the Palazzo Vecchio’s great Council Room, a friend of Savonarola and Rosselli’s nephew by marriage; and Verrocchio, the sculptor, whose beautiful work we are now to see in the Bargello. It is said that Lorenzo di Credi also lies here, and Albertinelli, who gave up the brush for innkeeping.
Opposite the church, on a house at the corner of the Borgo S. Croce and the Via de’ Macci, is a della Robbia saint—one of many such mural works of art in Florence. Thus, at the corner of the Via Cavour and the Via de’ Pucci, opposite the Riccardi palace, is a beautiful Madonna and Child by Donatello. In the Via Zannetti, which leads out of the Via Cerretani, is a very pretty example by Mino, a few houses on the right. These are sculpture. And everywhere in the older streets you may see shrines built into the wall: there is even one in the prison, in the Via dell’ Agnolo, once the convent of the Murate, where Catherine de’ Medici was imprisoned as a girl; but many of them are covered with glass which has been allowed to become black.
A word or two on S. Egidio, the church of the great hospital of S. Maria Nuova, might round off this chapter, since it was Folco Portinari, Beatrice’s father, who founded it. The hospital stands in a rather forlorn square a few steps from the Duomo, down the Via dell’ Orivolo and then the first to the left; and it extends right through to the Via degli Alfani in cloisters and ramifications. The facade is in a state of decay, old frescoes peeling off it, but one picture has been enclosed for protection—a gay and busy scene of the consecration of the church by Pope Martin V. Within, it is a church of the poor, notable for its general florid comfort (comparatively) and Folco’s gothic tomb. In the chancel