This is my final project for Arch 416, a stained glass window of sorts (panes to be printed on transparency paper) to shed some light (Get it?) on churches in Venice and Florence, Italy. I found that there was not as strong a contrast between the churches of the different cities as there was between the churches themselves. What influenced the architecture (construction, light, material, ornament, etc) were the styles of the time, the values of that church (ie, Bendictine vs. Franciscan), and the people for whom it was built. These churches did have several things in common: They were all based on the cross in plan, could all name drop some heavy artists, all had lofty spaces, and all were well known places of meeting, worship and reference in their times and often today. They also all have people buried inside them.
"Chiezas" visited: (Venice) San Marco, San Sebastiano, Santa Maria del Frari, (Florence) San Miniato al Monte, San Spirito, San Croce, and the Duomo.
While we of course know these buildings are churches, I liked to take the viewpoint of an alien to western civilization, and try to guess a religion based on the building. I would guess that the people in San Miniato were the most spiritual while the people in San Marco were the most materialistic. I would also say that the vision of God in Florence's Cathedral (the duomo) was of logic, pattern, and science. There was barely a cross in that whole building, but probably a million different geometric patterns. The purist of form was in the Franciscan church (Franciscans value poverty, simplicity) of Santa Maria dei Frari in Dorsoduro, Venice. But even this form was broken by the ridiculously ornamental (and as I later learned, PRIVATE) altars on the sides commissioned by wealthy families. To sum up the 11th-15th century churches/basilicas I saw in Italy, I say that they were monumental: iconic, important, and treasure chests of art. And I'd say the God they worshipped must be huge - and cultured :-).
Also, because I'm not sure if it was linked to already, here is my google map for 416 study travel: