Duomo & Science Museum

Today, we'll visit the main cathedral, climb to the top of its dome for a view of the city, and see the artifacts at the science Museum.

It was raining a bit this morning, so we decided to see the main cathedral in the city, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or, St. Mary of the Flower. Although, it goes more commonly by the name Duomo for its spectacular dome.

The cathedral was built between 1296 and 1436 and is covered in a polychromatic marble facade, like many of the churches in town. It's dome is the most famous in the world for its feat of engineering.

The cathedral is impressive, but lacks some of the intimacy of Santa Croce. It is, however, an impressive work of art and includes the art of so many well known Renaissance figures. It held the record for the largest dome from 1436 till 1881 and remains the largest brick and mortar dome in the world. (It captured this record from Rome's Pantheon, which had held the record since the year 128.)

Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral

Duomo Roof

Duomo Roof

Duomo Observatory

Duomo Observatory

Duomo Floor

Duomo Floor

Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral

After touring the cathedral, we went to see the original works in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The museum includes equipment used to build the dome, Michelangelo's Pietà, and many sculptures that once decorated the facade of the cathedral and the baptistry.

Shooting Arrows

Shooting Arrows

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta

Ghiberti's Baptistry Door Panel

Ghiberti's Baptistry Door Panel

After another three-hour lunch, made complete with a couple bottles of Pinot Nero, we decided to see the science museum. I was interested to see Galileo's telescope and his finger. Yes, they yanked off his finger before burying him in Santa Croce and it remains on display here.

The telescopes were impressive. It's a treat to see the original Galileo telescopes from 1609, and Isaac Newton's telescope that he built in 1668, called the Newtonian. I've heard the archive has most of Galileo's sketches that he made while observing the heavens. His sketches of sunspots, Jupiter's moons, and the mountains of the Moon—all the things he saw for the first time.

Galileo's Finger

Galileo's Finger

Galileo's Telescopes

Galileo's Telescopes

Newton's Telescope

Newton's Telescope

Orrery Portrait

Orrery Portrait

After the museum, Suzanne and I decided to climb to the top of the dome. It took about 20 minutes to get our ticket, then another 20 minutes to reach the top. The climb to the 350-foot-high dome is exciting. First, you climb up the vertical walls of the cathedral in a square staircase, which switches to a windowless circular staircase. At the top of the cathedral, and the bottom of the dome, we popped out along the balcony just below the dome inside the cathedral. The massive frescos were right before our eyes, and the floor of the cathedral was very far down.

The dome is actually two, concentric domes and our path to the top winds its way between the two domes. Up centuries-old staircases with iron banisters, at first in a spiral manner up the dome, then, near the end, the stairs turn and go straight up the slope. To get outside, there is a steep staircase—more of a ladder, really—and then you emerge outside beside the bells.

The view is extraordinary, and the afternoon sun bathed Florence in saturated colors. Florence is small enough that you can truly take in the entire city from up here.

Duomo's Last Judgment

Duomo's Last Judgment

Under the Dome View

Under the Dome View

Climb to the Top

Climb to the Top

Santa Croce from Duomo

Santa Croce from Duomo

Florence Streets

Florence Streets

Florence Skyline

Florence Skyline

Duomo View

Duomo View

Cathedral and Campanile

Cathedral and Campanile

Florence Rooftops

Florence Rooftops

On the menu tonight was Florentine steak, which we wanted to sample before leaving. It is essentially a T-bone, but cut about two inches thick. It's a massive piece of meat that is seared and bloody red inside—perfectly cooked. The four of us split one, added some good red wine, and that set us up for a great evening.

After, Suzanne and I wandered the streets a bit...

Family Portrait with David

Family Portrait with David

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio at Night

Ponte Vecchio at Night

Rosa dei Venti

Rosa dei Venti