Thursday, September 26, 2013

ET 3.03.b - Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) in Florence

Actual date of this event: 11 September

On Wednesday, which was our last full day in Florence, we decided to finally go into the Duomo. We lucked out in waiting!
I was so excited for the beautiful day that I took a little video from our apartment of the bells ringing .
There was no entry fee to get into the church, but there was a bit of a line. The line moved along pretty fast, so it wasn't too bad. Just like the Vatican Basilica, Santa Maria del Fiore has a strict dress code. I was prepared - I had my scarf in my bag and just wrapped it around my waist as my shorts were inappropriate. You can't really tell from the pictures, but the Basilica is covered in pastels. Based on its exterior, it is probably the most beautiful church I have seen. I loved the pastels and how it looked old and a bit worn.

The inside of the church has a beautiful floor with all sorts of designs in the tiles. The dome is intricately painted, and has a walkway around the interior edge for those that wish to climb up to the top. We noticed a few cracks on the interior of dome, and we wondered how long they had been there.

We decided to go down those stairs to see what it was. Below the Basilica is the crypt of a church (which was dedicated to Saint Reparata) that occupied the grounds before the current church. There was an entrance fee for the crypt, but there was no line, so that was nice. Prior to our visit, we had already planned to buy the Grand Ticket of 10 euros to get into all parts of the Duomo (which included Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Bell Tower, Baptistery, Museum, and the Crypt). The crypt had an extremely low ceiling, and as we walked around, we could see the remains of the old church. (sorry for the blurry pictures)

After we left the crypt, we agreed that we would both rather climb Giotto's Bell Tower rather than climb Brunelleschi's Dome. We figured that it would be less crowded and we would get a terrific view of the dome where as, if you climb the dome, you don't get to see it. I am not sure what climbing the dome is like, but climbing the tower is pretty easy! Not only is it 50 less steps than the dome (414 for the tower, 463 for the dome), but there are four levels along the way up that are covered where you can stop, take in the view, take some pictures, eat some gummy bears, and most importantly, sit down! I am not sure if the dome has all of that, but not once have I ever climbed a tower that had all of that going on! Let us begin...
 And then reached level one...

 Then level two...
 Then level three...
Then level four... the top!
Two negatives to the top of the tower: it is not as tall as the dome (duh) and there is a fence around it which can be difficult for picture taking. But the views are amazing and it was so nice to be able to take our time and not feel crammed. And I felt confident that no one would run off with my camera when I asked if they would take our picture.

When we got back, Luke took one last picture of the tower before realizing our SD card was full. Yikes!
We ended up buying another later on that day, but we still planned to go into the Baptistery next so we had to rely on our camera phones. The Baptistery was built between 1059 and 1128, and quite a few notable Renaissance figures were baptized in the building. The Baptistery is most known for its doors - there are four sets of bronze doors around the building with biblical stories sculpted into the panels. The interior of the building has a bright gold mosaic ceiling.

After leaving the Baptistery, Luke and I decided not to go into any of the other parts using our ticket. I have read online that the museum is excellent, so we really should have checked that out. Our tickets were also good for one more day, but we were leaving Florence, so we couldn't use them. I felt that 10 euro was more than worth it for the entry into what we did, so I didn't feel in any way ripped off. I had so much fun climbing the dome at the Vatican, so it would have been fun to climb the dome here. We had great views from the tower, so no big deal that we didn't go to the top of the dome.

Up next... almost paradise... Cinque Terre!

Other post on Florencve: Post 1

Duomo is a term for cathedral church and has nothing to do with the word "dome" - not all duomos have domes on them. Cupola is the word for dome.

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