Ahem, forgive the cheesy title. I just couldn’t help myself!
My first full day in Florence I wanted to cross off the item at the top of my sightseeing list: the Duomo. Not only is it just blocks from my hostel, but I’ve been intrigued by this structure since learning about it in school. The Duomo is an architectural masterpiece. Designed by Brunelleschi in the 15th century, it is two concentric domes that were built without the assistance of a supporting frame. It’s massive red-tiled structure feels even larger in person. You can climb up the 463 steps to the top of the dome, but I passed for the time being.
I walked over to the baptistry to see Ghiberti’s famous bronze-gilded doors. A piece I recall from my Art of Italy class, these doors at the eastern entrance known as the Gates of Paradise are actually replicas. The original doors are housed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The doors are comprised of 10 panels from the New Testament. A lesser known fact is that Lorenzo Ghiberti carved his own head in the center strip of the doors. The other interesting structure around the cathedral is the 82 meter high campanile (bell tower). Like the cathedral and the baptistry, it has a pink, white, and green marble facade. I spent my last morning in Florence climbing 414 steps to the top of this structure for magnificent views of the Duomo and far-reaching vistas of the beautiful city. I picked out places I had visited over the last couple of days as well as the places I never made it to. I spent nearly an hour just walking around the top of the campanile, picking out places in the city but always returning to the view of the Duomo.
Even if you’re not into art or leather, it’s worth a trip to Florence for the architecture alone.