No visit to Florence, Italy is complete without stopping by Florence Duomo!
Before we went to Florence I loaded up my brain with Florentine history, including watching a really cool documentary on Netflix about the Medici family. So naturally, I was excited to walk in the very cathedral where historic and influential events took place hundreds of years ago.
Florence Duomo sits at the heart of Florence’s city center and is walk-able if coming from the Stazione di Santa Maria Novella – Florence’s train station.
The cathedral is not hard to miss! You can spot its iconic dome before you get to the site. When you get there, take some time to admire its exterior design and decoration. The duomo is decorated in shades of green, white and pink. A statue of San Zanobi is on the right side of the center bronze door. He was the first bishop of Florence in the 400’s.
There are many reliefs, patterns, statues and gold mosaics outside of the cathedral. I’m sure they all have a special reason why they are there, however, I’m not one to ask! I do admire all of its art.
The dome itself is spectacular! For a really good view of it, I suggest climbing up to Piazzale Michelangelo or San Miniato al Monte (the higher up, the better) for a panoramic view of Florence and its duomo’s cupola dominating the skyline.
Once you’ve made your way into the center of the duomo, look up! You will find this classic piece of art, above your head. They are frescoes painted on the interior of the cupola (dome), they are called the ‘Universal Judgment’ and were originally started by Giorgio Vasari in 1571 who later died before finishing the frescoes. It was finished by Federico Zuccari in 1579.
The dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi – a goldsmith and clockmaker. It was finished in 1436 which later, a crowning lantern was added to the dome. The crown was sculpted by Andrea del Verrocchio, whom at the time had young Leonardo da Vinci as an apprentice in his workshop. You can climb your way to the top (for a fee) and get a view of the city. The duomo also includes a bell tower known as Giotto’s Campanile (Tower) and a baptistry.
The inside of the cathedral is beautiful! There is something marvelous to look at around every corner, top and bottom. It’s a feast for the eyes!
Did you know that Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici and his brother Lorenzo were attacked by conspirators in 1478 by the rival Pazzi family? In this very cathedral, Lorenzo was able to escape the attempt on his life however, Giuliano was killed on the spot. He and his brother, Lorenzo ruled Florence at the time (as did most of the Medici.)
You may have heard of Girolamo Savonarola at some point. Savonarola often spoke to his followers in Florence’s cathedral. He was the influential preacher during the Renaissance who was against secular art and culture. He even burned books, art, cosmetics, mirrors, dresses, musical instruments and anything else deemed a vanity. This event was in 1497 and it is called the “Bonfire of the Vanities”.
Florence Duomo should definitely be on your list of places to visit when in Florence. It really is an unforgettable cathedral. Happy travels!