Florence Day 4

Sep 20

Florence Day 4

We booked tickets to tour the Duomo for today, requiring us to be up and at the church by 9:45am. Ryder rolled me out of bed at 8:45am, we had breakfast, and walked down to the Duomo. The cathedral was built over a 170 year span beginning in the 13th century. Made to rival the cathedrals of Pisa and Siena, the Duomo is quite a site to behold.


The famous dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in just 16 years. When we arrived about a thousand people were already milling about in the Piazza del Doumo at the entrance as the cathedral did not open until 10am. We discovered, after talking to a cathedral guard, that entrance to the church is free…

Side note: In Italy, well at least in Florence, most tourist destinations do not have their own online websites and if they do, you cannot purchase tickets in advance through them. All tickets for touring sites have to be purchased through third parties if you want to avoid the lines or through the Italian government website which, according to Rick Steves, is a waste of time.

…. so we got in line at the dome, hoping the tickets we purchased weren’t a waste of good money! Luckily, the tickets were for the dome so we entered the side of the cathedral and immediately up steep flights of stairs, some winding and some flat, to the absolute top of the dome!

We couldn’t believe it! Along the way, we walked along a very narrow catwalk that ran along the base of the great dome on the inside, giving us an up close view of the amazing painting on the inside of the dome. The fresco was created by Giorgio Vasari and Frederico Zuccari between 1572 and 1579, and depicts the Last Judgement. It was entirely restored between 1978 and 1994 and covers 3,600 square meters of space.

After a few claustrophobic moments (well for me at least) we climbed the last bit of steps and up to the top! We could see all of Florence from our view and even into the hills of Tuscany. Everything was red roofs and green hills set against a deep blue sky. I couldn’t believe how high we were! We took some photos and walked the circumference. On the way down there was lots of crowding and a bit of a bottle neck, as those coming down had to go the same route as those going up! Not the most comfortable. When we reached the bottom, we exited the church to get some lunch and our daily gelato before touring the Baptistry of San Giovanni.

We made our way to the Baptistry just as it was opening and were able to get in with the first group. The baptistry is the oldest building in the square, the original thought to have been erected in the 5th or early 6th century AD. Interestingly enough, tradition holds that the baptistry was once a Roman temple because the spacial arrangement recalls the Pantheon and it is enriched with pillars and carvings taken from ancient monuments. The floor, however, looks Islamic while the mosaics of the dome reveal Byzantine art influence. We wandered around the interior, taking photos, and then made our way out.

We could see a large open air market from the top of the dome and decided to head that way. The market was full of stall selling everything leather, scarves, and some odds and ends. We poked around a bit, bought a few things, then went back to the apartment for a bit.

We went out again to another cafe around 2pm. We stopped at a market to purchase food for dinner, walked back to home base, made a good meal of pasta and are now relaxing for the night!

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