Sunday, November 11, 2012

Florence - Home of the Renaissance (Part 2)

As you (hopefully) read in our previous post on our time in Florence, much of our time there was during the rainstorms that hit all across Italy for a week in late October. Despite this, we were able to take advantage of the sunny breaks and enjoy some of the amazing architectural sights that make Florence one of the top destinations in Italy. 

Undoubtedly, the most famous building in Florence is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo, with Giotto's Campanile and Baptistery. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the exterior is unlike anything else you will see. The white, pink, and green marbelled facade create a striking contrast with the surrounding buildings. The dome of the cathedral is an ingenious design by Brunelleschi, and after reading about how it was built I was absolutely blown away. Although the gothic interior is largely austere, the frescoes painted on the inside of the dome are stunning and cover over 38,000 square feet (it took 12 years to complete it). 

The incredible Duomo on a sunny day

Inside, an idea how large this basilica is.

Interior of the large dome

You can climb either the dome or bell tower for a fee
We also visited two other churches while in Florence - the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. 

Santa Maria Novella, as the name suggests, is right near the train station, and was constructed around the same time as the Duomo. While it has a lovely gothic facade, the real treat is inside where frescoes by Ghirlandaio and Michelangelo, sculpture work from Ghiberti and della Robbia, and an altar from Giambologna all await. It also holds the unfortunate honor of being the place where the movement against Galileo (for his support of heliocentrism) began, eventually leading to his arrest, trial, and sentence to house arrest for the rest of his life.

Stunning exterior striped arches

The final church we visited in Florence was San Minato al Monte, which is located near the Piazzale Michelangelo and its amazing views. The church in one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in all of Italy and dates back to 1013 AD. The interior houses intricately patterned pavement, mosaics, woodwork, and frescoes, as well as a crypt.

A few steps up to the top

A second church discovered underneath

Ornately painted alter

And it's hard to beat the view

With so many churches to visit, it's nearly impossible to see every one. We found simply wandering around, and popping into one or two as we had time, worked well for us.

By Travis Huyghebaert with No comments


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Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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