Programming Note: This is the only post until next week because we are going to South Dakota for a quick little holiday. Have a great week!
The date is 20 May, so it is my and Al’s anniversary—18 years. Al apologized for not having a gift for me and said we could go shopping for one, but I said, “Honey, we’re in Italy. I think you’re covered.”
We slept in and missed breakfast on purpose so that we had a good excuse to spend the morning at a café, eating warm pastries and drinking the best cappuccino we’ve had the whole trip. We people-watched and dog-watched, as a man walked in with what we thought was his dog, but it stayed long after the man left. The dog was more interested in the school kids, knowing they would be more likely to share their breakfast, I’m sure.
We headed to the Duomo and got in line about 20 minutes early, giving us plenty of time to people-watch some more. Street sellers walked up and down the line, offering women with bare shoulders shawls to cover up with inside. Note to people with bare shoulders—the dress code is strict at this cathedral. If you don’t have anything to cover up with, they will sell you a paper shirt like you would wear in the doctor’s office.
Another note about street sellers—don’t buy from them. If you see a guy with a bunch of Prada purses laying out on a sheet, just walk on by. If the police catch you, it’s a fine for you, too. Chances are you won’t be caught because those guys are quick to swoop everything up in that sheet and run away. Then, when the cops have passed, they just stroll back and unfurl the goods.
Back to the cathedral. The actual name is Santa Maria del Fiori. The neo-Gothic façade is overly ornate and made of pink, green, and white Tuscan marble. When it was completed, it was the largest cathedral in Europe and is still the 5th largest. It’s hard to take it all in because it is so overwhelming with all the sculptures above the doors and the detail on the walls of the huge building.
The inside, however, is. . . well . . . underwhelming. It’s beautiful, but it’s as if everything was spent on the outside and there wasn’t enough left for the inside to match.
Mosaic on the floor. Does anyone know what this is?
The inside of the dome is decorated by a painting, Last Judgment by Vasari and Zuccari and is one of the largest paintings of the Renaissance, but that’s really the only ornamental aspect to the inside of the cathedral. The area directly under the dome was roped off, so we didn’t get a good view of this painting.
The real claim to fame of this cathedral is the architecture of its dome. The cathedral was built with a hole awaiting its dome. Local architect Filippo Brunelleschi created the octagonal design “dome within a dome,” which weighs over 37,000 tons and contains over 4 million bricks.
The Bell Tower
The doors to the Baptistry are called Gates to Paradise. Created by Lorenzo Ghiberti, they are gilded bronze, depicting stories of the Bible.
The rest of the day was restful, to the verge of almost boring. Al and K went to the Leonardo di Vinci Museum, which they said was awful because most of the exhibits were either broken or locked up so you couldn’t see them. While they were gone, I tried to nap and rest up, but got antsy and wanted to explore some more. I had watched some TV, mostly MTV, but was happy to see the guys return. We didn’t go to any more museums or anything and most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday, so we just walked around. Later we had a leisurely dinner, another walk, then turned in early because we had to be at the bus by 8:00 the next morning for our tour of Siena, San Giamagnio, and Pisa.
Next, the beautiful Tuscany region.