Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 6: Duomo di Firenze

When we studied cathedrals in art history class at Pratt, I thought they all looked the same and couldn't keep their names straight for the life of me. In the future, I won't have that problem.

My second day in Florence, Abby took me to see the Duomo. Right before it was about to come into sight, she warned me "Don't faint."

Thanks for the heads up, Abby.

What a sight to behold. Having never seen anything like this before, I was astonished. I feel slightly pathetic making an analogy about understanding craftsmanship, through my work at Pratt's Metal Shop. This is on a whole other level. What struck me first was the level of detail. On the façade, every few inches there is a different embellishment. The façade alone is 124 x 295" (to the highest point). That's a lot of detail! Every detail required an extreme amount of skill to craft. When it's all put together, the man hours are incalculable.

Not sure what the scaffolding is for.

Duomo means cathedral in Italian. Residents of cities fortunate enough to have duomos, refer to their duomo as 'duomo', while the full name would be along the lines of "Duomo di Firenze." The duomo in Florence is really three structures, the baptistery, cathedral, and bell tower.

South side duomo, represent. Giatto's bell tower.

Last night when I decided that I was going to blog about the Duomo, I did some research (read the wikipedia article). While I recommend reading it for yourself, two bits caught my attention.

Click me! I'm huge!

Firstly, the duomo was designed by architect, Arnolfo di Cambio, but because its construction took so long, every twenty years or so, a new architect would pick up the project. The result of this unintentional collaboration was an evolution of sorts, where each head architect added his own contribution.

Filipo Burnelleschi's greatest achievement.

Secondly, the dome. The dome. The dome! Designed by Filipo Burnelleschi, it remains the largest brick dome ever built. It is over 100 ft tall and took 170 years to build. Additionally, it was built without any internal support! There was not enough lumber in all of Tuscany to build internal scaffolding for it (Rocko's Modern Life anyone?).

Filipo forever admiring his work.

Rick Steve's always said, the more you know about something the more interesting it is. So true, Rick! After reading about the Duomo, I was practically foaming at the mouth to go and see it again. Abby mentioned that, for a fee, you could even climb on top of the dome. Done! I paid my €8 and up I went. Needless to say, it was the best €8 I've spent.

The staircase to the top was intense.

Small windows, what a tease.

No caption necessary.

I crush you!

Breathtaking! (Click for huge image)

If that was my fate, I'd believe in God too. (click)

The man (or son of the man) himself. 

Who knew the devil has 4 faces and eats people?

Time for more stairs. This is in between the outer and inner domes.

Imagine building this...

That's right folks, zoom to your heart's content. (click)


Can you hear me now?

Florentine rooftops. (click)

"I think we made a wrong turn at the gelateria..."

An observatory that must have been built before the lightbulb was invented. 


I'm glad I was there early, before the throngs.

Tools used to construct the dome.

44 stained glass windows.

While I was on top of the dome I overheard an American couple complaining about how tired they were. I joked with them about opening up a gelato stand on the dome. I felt great after I climbed to the top – but after a nap my muscles are catching up with me. Ciao!

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