“so that the industry and power of men cannot invent nor ever undertake something that is bigger or more beautiful”
No matter where you are while in Florence, it captures your attention. If your lost, simply look for it and you’ll find your way to the heart of the city. As you reach higher ground, she’s there in full view. Even when not visible to the naked eye, she’s on a postcard, a calendar, anything.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s Duomo) is Florence.
Walking to her was like walking towards the Eiffel Tower last year. My heart beat faster with every meter that I got closer. I could see her famous cupola at every turn, down every alleyway I took.
I was disappointed at first. The sky in Florence on my first morning there was dull and gray. It was raining. I’m on vacation and it’s raining! Raining in Florence of all places. I wanted a blue sky view of the Duomo and adjoining tower. I wanted to climb the tower and look across at the cupola. I did not want rain.
My mood as I approached was dour. I decided to at least go inside and see the beauty that Giotto, di Cambio and Filippo Brunelleschi created. I marveled at the vast Gothic interior and Vasari’s fresco. Time stood idly by as my eyes took a snapshot of every detail. When I finally left the cathedral’s interior, I was greeted by the light. The sun was shining, the clouds were moving and the sky was turning a bright blue.
We decided to take advantage of the moment and climb the 440 plus steps to the top of Giotto’s bell tower. The climb was grueling. It doesn’t sound like a lot until you start it and realize that by the 100th step, you’re dreading the rest. But you aren’t going back down, no, have to complete the climb. Besides, along the way, there are some good resting, err, lookout points.
At the top, the clear day allowed me to see all of Florence and the adjacent cupola. It was now worth every ache in my calf muscles.
That was my first experience with the Duomo. In the days to follow and the week to follow, I would visit her time and time again. From vantage points high above the city, she stands out among everything else.
I came to Florence for Renaissance art, Bisteca di Fiorentina, great wine, but mostly, to see the Duomo. I left fulfilled and ready to return to this new city I love.