Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo), Florence
One Of Florence’s Greatest Masterpieces! The Church And The Duomo.
Florence is the ideal European city to wander as literally every inch overflows with vibrant piazzas, charming gelaterias, pasticcerias, buzzing patios, and historical art. It’s like being in a museum, although outdoors, where every turn you are inundated with a new feeling or excitement that you want to capture with both your eyes and camera. Unlike the mayhem and popularity of Rome, Florence is the more unassuming Italian city. It is this under the radar vibe, that has placed Florence as my number Italian destination. My first trip here in the summer of 2004 was the beginning of my Florence love affair. Today, 13 years and 4 trips later, I am still not tired of exploring Florence’s charm. This is why I have chosen to spend the whole month of June, nestled in my own apartment, living like a Florentine. Although I have been to most sites, museums, and piazzas in previous visits I had yet to explore inside The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, or as most people refer to it as the Duomo (the massive Dome structure), easier to remember.
My apartment is literally 150m from the entrance. Every morning when I open my massive wooden doors and gaze right, I marvel at this historic church, EVERY DAY. No matter how many times I stroll pass, hurry through the crowds or stand at its base, I am continuously in awe. So finally, I just had to suck it up and wait in the queue like everyone else.
I lied, I actually didn’t wait in a queue. You see, I was heading home around 430pm one afternoon and noticed that there was only a handful of people walking through the front doors. Ding Ding! This was my cue that it was my chance to enter. The guard stated that it was closing time so be prepared to be rushed on through. Fine with me. I still have three more weeks to try for a longer visit.
The moment I stepped through the heavy, grandiose doors the sheer volume of the church jolted me to a halt. You see, lots of Italian churches are filled with different altars and pews that take up most of the space. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is very different. The back half of the church is empty which showcases the beautiful mosaic marble floor. It’s only the first half that has the altar and pews. Most people make a beeline towards the main altar, not I. I took in the breadth and coldness of the back of the church. It was here that I noticed the intricate details of the floor, the arches, and the hand stained glass windows. Before I could enjoy it even further, a guard politely ushered me to the front.
Everyone congregates here with their heads angled up in the most uncomfortable position trying to view Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment. I stood there also with my head bending back trying to take in every inch of the color, brush strokes, and themes.It was impossible to take it all in as I became dizzy from the blood rushing in the wrong direction. Plus, I was ushered again towards the exit. As I walked down the long aisle, I turned back around to admire the fresco from afar. It was here that I noticed the bit of sun gleaming through the stained glass windows showcasing the frescoes in a heavenly light. Again, the guard ushered me towards the exit. But before I left I saw the coolest timepiece ever! A massive 24-hour Roman numerals clock. And if I am correct, it still works.
- What: The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
- Where: Central Florence
- Hours: Open every day 10.00 – 4.30pm. Closed 1st Tuesday of each month.
- Price: Free
- Clothing: Shorts and Dresses MUST be at least to the knee. No bare shoulders (use a shawl) hats, sunglasses.
- Tips: Best to go in the late afternoon when no tourists groups are around. But don’t fret if you go in the morning, the queue might look long but it moves at quite a good pace.