Photos from Il Duomo

The Duomo in Florence is one of the most beautiful church buildings I’ve ever seen. As soon as I laid eyes on it for the first time, I decided it was my favourite Italian cathedral (Wait…. favourite Italian cathedral outside of Rome. I haven’t really thought this out very well.) It’s very difficult to take photos of because it’s very big and in a cramped spot in the middle of the city but I tried my best (some of the photos have been taken on different days, in different lights, just so you know).

The front of the cathedral and the campanile (bell tower) in evening sunlight. The shadow is that of the Baptistery. Isn’t it just beautiful?

A view of the famous dome, built by Brunelleschi. You can climb to the top of that. It’s only 463 stairs up or so. One day I might manage it. *faints at the thought*

The Piazza del Duomo, filled with beautiful things to look at. How can there be any marble left in the world? Surely it’s all in that one square in Florence?

And from the other side of the Baptistery…

I think anyone would agree, it’s simply breathtaking. As my friends and I walked towards the Piazza del Duomo and I knew we only had one corner to turn I said to them, “If we turn this corner and I suddenly start crying, you’re not allowed to laugh, ok?” I’m glad I said that because by the time we turned the corner, I was too busy feigning taking offence at being ridiculed by them to be emotional.

But, I have to say, the exterior of the church is the best part. The interior is a little…. disappointing. It’s very stark in comparison to other Italian cathedrals I’ve been in. Half of it was roped off and I suspect it was the most interesting half. We were granted access to the nave only. The nave is almost bare of decoration, bar a couple of paintings, tombs and memorials. The most important of which was a small-ish (in comparison to the size of the cathedral) painting of Dante explaining The Divine Comedy by Domenico di Michelino.

The nave of the cathedral. Beautiful in its stark austerity. (You know, in comparison to Roman churches) I should mention, the marble floor is quite wonderful, not at all disappointing.

The back of the church. As in, behind the front doors. If you know what I mean. A mosaic of the coronation of the virgin is underneath the clock. The guided tours of the cathedral, where you can walk to the top of the dome takes you to that gallery/walkway underneath the stained glass window.

The interior of Brunelleschi’s dome, painted with a fresco of the Last Judgement. Disappointingly, we were unable to see the whole dome, due to the cathedral being roped off halfway down. Again, the guided tour takes you on a walkway at the bottom of that dome. I’m not afraid of heights but looking up at that was terrifying, never mind the other way around.

And the high altar. Again, relatively austere for an Italian catholic cathedral. But beautiful in its simplicity.

After about half an hour or so, my friend and I had pretty much looked at everything. We both confessed to being a little disappointed. Later, when we caught up with our other pal, she told us she’d been refused entry to the cathedral given that she was wearing a dress with a low-cut back (perfectly respectable dress with sleeves, high-ish neckline but the back was square cut across the shoulders.) She asked us if she’d missed out on anything spectacular. Not really, no.

My advice on Florence Cathedral? Enjoy it from the outside, that’s where its at its best.