When going around Florence you quickly learn to scan the horizon for the Duomo if you get lost. The thing is enormous and can unexpectedly fall right in front of you when you’re not paying attention-
The cathedral is even more impressive from the front-
To be fair this marble facade did not actually exist until fairly recently in the grand scheme of things- the cathedral was built in the sixteenth century, the facade erected in the ninteenth century. Doesn’t make it any less beautiful though.
You can of course go into the cathedral and throng with the never-ending mass of tourists you find there (where did all these tourists in Florence come from by the way? do you just not notice them in Rome because the city is so much bigger?), but the more fun thing to do is to climb the Duomo itself- that is, the giant dome of the cathedral. It’s 8 Euro but definitely worth it- for starters you get a magnificent view of the dome’s frescos-
As this is Florence, home of Dante, this fresco is obviously depicting the Inferno.
Top of the Duomo! It’s 460 or so steps up complete with warnings that you shouldn’t attempt it if you have heart problems, but I amazed myself by climbing up without getting winded at all- I guess walking around all day every day does that to a person.
A close-up of the Florentine houses from above, which I will describe as a bunch of swallow’s nests to the appreciation of my European readers and the confusion of my American ones.
A broader view of the city- the view was so gorgeous that I confess I must have walked around four times, absorbing it from every angle!
See that church in the distance, by the way? That’s called Santa Croce. Let’s go closer to it shall we?
Santa Croce is the national cathedral of Italy, sort of like Westminster in England. I say Westminster because if you go inside you can see the tombs of all the most famous Italians-
Galileo’s grave, which had a “2009 International Year of Astronomy” wreath laid beside it. I should also note somewhere that there was a really excellent Galileo exhibit in Florence this year, complete with his first telescopes and drawings and other astronomical artifacts of note, but you weren’t allowed any pictures there either so the blog must go without.
And this is why they shouldn’t let me out in public by the way- see the marker on the left wall? It’s for the physicist Enrico Fermi meaning I gazed at it quite reverently for several minutes- only to realize after the fact that the reason the crowd was gathered at this spot was da Vinci’s marker on the wall at the right. To make sure this wasn’t a fluke though I did the same thing upon finding the marker for Marconi- really, I was quite beside myself- only to realize that Michelangelo’s marker was right above it! Oh well, no one said I needed to always enjoy the same bits of culture as everyone else.