Florence; there is so much to see and experience in this city. If one was to pick up two main attractions, they would surely be Michelangelo’s David and the famous Cathedral of Florence, also popularly known as Brunelleschi’s Dome or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore ( or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the flower; fiore =Italian for flower).
Brunelleschi’s Dome… a foolish plan! There is reason why the famous ‘Duomo of Firenze’, is called ‘Brunelleschi’s Dome’, because it was Brunelleschi who made the construction of the dome possible in the 15th century. To say it is massive, is an understatement. Brunelleschi, with the construction of the dome of the cathedral, showed amazing mastery of technical knowledge. When the plan was first mooted by him, most thought it to be a foolish design, something which was not doable at all. Brunelleschi successfully proved his skeptics wrong, and built one of the most important and defining landmarks of Florence and Italian Renaissance. Approximately, 4-million bricks were used for the construction of the dome alone. Gothic, classic, multi-colored stone-filigree …awe! Yes, exactly… the first impression on seeing the dome is one of awe, thanks to the huge size of the dome and the stone-filigree work which adorns its gothic windows, spires and walls. Array of colors; pink, green and white marble is what the famous Cathedral of Florence is made up of. The exterior itself is so captivating and ornate, imagine what the inside would be like!
Inside the Cathedral.. Beautiful frescos depicting scenes from Jesus life adorn the inside walls of the Cathedral. Giorgio Vasari’s ‘Last Judgement’ is something to look out for, when inside the cathedral; you need to look light up to find it :)( apparently Vasari’s depiction of the Final Judgement was despised by many, as per lore) 463 steps climb to the top of the Duomo… 926 both ways ! The best way to get a close-up-view of Vasari’s ‘Final Judgement’ and to get some stunning views of the city of Florence is to climb up the famous cupola of the cathedral.
Ummm…it is not easy, especially if you harbor fear of heights or have bad knees or heart! Otherwise the 463 steps can be a breeze 😉 Remember they are narrow stone steps, steep in many places, and yes, sometimes the movement space is just enough for one single person. 😀
Truth be told, I found it difficult. I was panting and the closed space, triggered an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia ( btw, I am NOT claustrophobic), not to mention my fear of heights! But, I DID it! Thanks, to the constant encouragement by the husband. The last stretch is particularly steep, but a whole lot of fun.
The grand stunning view of the beautiful city of Florence, makes the trudge up the stairs, completely worthwhile. We spent some time admiring the city and soaking up the ambience of Florence from the cupola. I let the florentine breeze kiss my face and refreshed myslef with the much needed water, before venturing down. There is no elevator; so yes, the only way down is to climb down, approximately the same number again; yes, 463 😀
Oh! Man, once down, my legs felt wobbly post the 926 steps, but the heart felt good…for more than one reason ( Not only I could overcome my fear of heights/ claustrophobia, I was rewarded with the panoramic view of red-terra-cotta expanse of Florence’s roof tiles).
Out in the piazza we saw Brunelleschi’s marble-figurine looking up at the Duomo and admiring his handiwork. Brunelleschi, the very first artist to be buried with the saints.. Vey aptly, Brunelleschi is buried in the crypt of the cathedral. A very high honor, it was for Brunelleschi then. The first of its kind; for architects were not in the same standing as a saint, who were mostly buried in the cathedral crypts. Brunelleschi is often referred to as the Renaissance genius, who re-invented architecture; he made the impossible ( the large dome) a reality way back in March 1436. Amazing to know, though not formally trained, Brunelleschi, known as an ingenious gold-smith created one of the most lasting edifices not just of Florence, but of the Renaissance.
With his genius and workmanship, Brunelleschi made artists, worthy of everlasting admiration in the company of the saints; an enduring image of Renaissance.
So, as you can see, this is one sight, which just cannot be missed, if you happen to be in Florence!