Piazza Santa Maria della Pace is one of the most perfect examples of baroque theatricality. It was built on the site of a medieval church dedicated to Sant' Andrea, because Pope Sixtus IV, praying for peace in the conflicts that were devastating Florence at the time, had vowed to construct a church to Our Lady of Peace.
Baccio Pontelli was the architect, but the piazza and the church's fašade were completely remade under Pope Alexander VII who commissioned Pietro da Cortona. Along with Bernini and Borromini, da Cortona was one of the greatest exponents of Roman Baroque.
The architect designed a fašade with two orders and a semicircular portico that links up with the sides, like two theatrical wings.
In addition to works by Rosso Fiorentino and Orazio Gentileschi, the interior is famous for Raphael's frescoes showing the sibyls and prophets, for which Michelangelo accused him of plagiarism.
At the right-hand side of the church, you'll find the entrance to the famous cloister by Bramante
, where forms and volumes have been utilized in perfect Renaissance harmony.
The cloister has recently been lovingly restored and is used today for temporary exhibitions.
The network of streets past the church, with their medieval flavor, takes you to Via dei Coronari.