I spent Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening in Florence, and my first Florence post covered Thursday and Friday. I’d heard that it was supposed to rain on Sunday, so I decided to do the Climbing Tall Buildings And Looking At Scenery on Saturday. That meant both the main cathedral (the dome, anyway) and the belltower (campanile) of Il Duomo.

I started with the dome, because the line was closer to my hotel.

Il Duomo

Il Duomo

(A couple of pictures of the building from the ground, on the way to the line for the dome.)


The stairway (467 steps to the top) is fairly narrow, but there are windows every so often, and places where slow climbers, like me, can stop to let faster people go by. Of course, closer to the top, there’s only one set of stairs, so there are extra stops for letting people go past in the other direction.


The dome itself is painted with what I believe are Biblical scenes, but I know very little about the sorts of stories that tend to show up in churches and how to interpret such paintings. So it was impressive, but not especially meaningful.

There wasn’t enough light inside to get one picture with both the cupola and the main dome appropriately lit, so I used different settings for the lighter bits:



And then I reached the top!




And let my spindle out for a nice view:


(Forrester spindle, Enchanted Knoll Farm silk)

And found my hotel, more or less:


(I’m pretty sure my hotel is the roof on the left with the triangular skylight thingy.)

On the way down, we were directed to the higher balcony around the inside of the dome, so I took more photos.

Il Duomo

Il Duomo

Most of the stairways were wider and rectangular, but some of them were narrow spirals:


There was also some sort of exhibit on the machinery and engineering used to build the cathedral, but it seemed to be an extra special-tour kind of thing, so I took this one photo, looked through the bars a bit, and kept walking.


Until, finally, I reached the floor of the cathedral:


And then looked back up:

Il Duomo

After I left the cathedral, I went over to the campanile, expecting an elevator like the one at San Marco in Venice. When I discovered that there was no elevator, just another 414 steps, I decided to take a break. I didn’t have a huge amount of time before my pre-booking at the Galleria Accademia, but there was enough time to investigate the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. SO WORTH IT. They allowed photography there, so I took a LOT of pictures. Here are a few:

One of several examples of the tiling/inlay work

A Pieta by Michelangelo

There are a lot of hexes like these on the sides of the Campanile:



There are ones of mathematicians and philosophers (among others) as well as weavers and this sculptor, but these are pleasantly identifiable (without recourse to the descriptions).

Maddelena, by Donatello

A reliquary–ordinarily, I find reliquaries creepy, but this one’s beautiful.

Such embroidery!

After that museum, I went to the Accademia, partly because I’d basically been ordered to see Michelangelo’s David. I’ll grant that it’s an impressive work (the expression! the veins in the hands! the sheer size!), but it was another example of how many people only look at the Important Works in museums, and zip past all the other amazing pieces. One of the main things I found myself thinking was that Michelangelo’s studio must’ve been huge, given all the large marble statues. The Accademia is a pretty small museum, though, and most of the second floor is the kind of earlyish Christian art that makes my eyes glaze over, so I didn’t spend long there.

The next stop, after a takeout lunch (since I was just around the corner from my hotel), was the Campanile. One of the best things about it was getting to see the outside of Il Duomo from higher than ground level, but the views of the city were good, too.



I saw a LOT of swallows in Europe (England as well as Italy), and watching them never got old. I know there were swallows where we lived in West Virginia, but it’d been quite a while since I’d seen any.



I had intended to put all of Saturday and Sunday into this post, but I think this is a good stopping point. The next post should finish the Florence portion of my trip.