Florence travel guide

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore

It wasn't Florence's first cathedral, but at the end of the thirteenth century, when it was decided to build Santa Maria del Fiore, the Florentines wanted it to be the largest in the world.
all of them! Thus, under the direction of the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, work began, who, in the same period, dedicated himself to the construction of Palazzo della Signoria, the new walls and the Basilica of Santa Croce. After his death, many other architects followed in the great undertaking of the construction of the Florentine Cathedral, up to the famous Filippo Brunelleschi who, in the fifteenth century, demonstrated his ability to build the dome with very modern techniques for that time. He was so jealous of his drawings that he left no trace of them. It was an undertaking that took centuries, so much so that even today in Florence we say "It's as long as the Opera del Duomo!" to indicate a work of which no end is in sight. But Santa Maria del Fiore is considered one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in the world. A curiosity: do you know where the saying "a ufo" referring to running away from paying for something comes from? Materials for use in the large Florentine public building sites, such as those of the Cathedral, were not taxed, bearing the acronym "Ad Usum Florentinae Operae" to indicate that these goods entering the city were exempt from duty. So no flying saucer! Although in fact a UFO in Florence seems to have been immortalized in a painting in the Palazzo Vecchio....


The ancient Baptistery, with its white and green marble decorations, dates back to more than a thousand years ago. In the past, baptism was celebrated twice a year, and this, in addition to being a sacred occasion, was a civil moment as the birth of the newcomer was recorded. Dedicated to St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence, on the evening of June 24 Florence lights up under the colors of fireworks shot from Piazzale Michelangelo. Inside, the dome amazes us with a precious gilded mosaic decoration with the great Christ deciding the fate of men in the Last Judgement, where to his left we see the condemned in the great scene of hell that must have intimidated just by looking at it. A beautiful paradise instead comes to mind especially admiring from the outside the east door, in front of the Duomo, when Michelangelo, admiring the masterpiece in bronze and gold leaf of Ghiberti, nicknamed it for its beauty "the Door of Paradise"!

Cathedral Museum

These were once the rooms of the workshops for the works of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was here that Brunelleschi worked in the preparation of materials in the various stages of construction of the dome, and it was here that Michelangelo sculpted the David to adorn the dome of the Cathedral. From the nineteenth century, the rooms became a repository of materials and decorations of the Opera del Duomo. In 2015 it reopened to the public with a new, modern layout. In the museum there is a rich exhibition of sculptures and parts of decorations made in the past centuries for the Baptistery, the Cathedral and the Bell Tower. Here is one of Michelangelo's works, the famous Pietà Bandini, named after the Roman family before the Medici bought it in the 17th century. It is one of the last creations of the artist, who, by now very old, wanted to portray himself in the face of one of the figures of the sculptural group, that of Nicodemus.