Nine Days in Italia – Parte Sei: Sunset Over Firenze

Day six of the Italia trip and we finally decided to actually check out the Duomo itself rather than just walk past/around/see it from every angle other than inside. The ticket felt a little pricey until we realised just what it got us, the cathedral itself is free, however the ticket includes the walk up to the dome, the baptistery opposite, the campanile next to it, the museum behind it and, a very nice and unexpected surprise, the archaeological excavation museum beneath it. All in all not that bad value when you add them all up, especially as it’s valid for 72 hours so you don’t have to cram everything in to one day. Firs off w waited in line for the free part, the cathedral itself, and after a few minutes of waiting was turned away at the door because Jo was wearing shorts deemed too short, good thing the apartment was a 5 minute walk away to get changed into something else. Second time around and in we go, the cathedral inside is “oddly bare” to paraphrase a guide book, I assume that means because of the lack of ostentatious gold that you usually find all over Catholic places of worship (the baptistery has all of that stuff). It was still though a bloody impressive building, especially when you consider how it was built without modern machinery and marvel at the grand scale of the place. One thing I noticed, and did in Venezia and later Pisa, was the lack of Holy Water, I don’t know if it was just me but usually when I’ve been to a place like this there’s tons of the stuff around, all the fonts were empty in every church/cathedral we went in to. Drought perhaps? Anyway in the floor was a small set of stairs leading to what looked like a gift shop of some kind, I’m not usually one to go into places like that but thought we’re here we might as well see what’s in it. To my surprise the stairs led down below the cathedral and into a museum underneath the building, an archaeological museum. Really interesting place with original Roman era mosaics on the floor, tombs of long dead knights and religious figures, relics of saints, ceremonial swords and exhibitions of how the cathedral looked throughout its life.

After we came out we discovered we were too late to climb up the to the top of the dome itself so decided to check out the Museo Della Opera behind the Duomo, again a pleasant surprise as the place was not only huge but filled with statues from the likes of Donatello, Michelangelo and just about every other Renaissance sculptor you can think of, bleeding great massive things they were as well and shockingly detailed, down to being able to see veins on the hands of the statues. We spent most of the afternoon here, although that may be more to do with the air conditioning than the artwork (I’ll pretend its because I’m cultured and not because I was a sweaty mess). The rest of the day was filled with me hunting down a birthday present for myself, I may not be as huge a football fan as I was when I was a kid but I did always have a soft spot for Fiorentina the football team from Firenze, probably because I always like Gabriel Batistuta their top goalscorer. So stumbling across not one but two official team shops made me want to buy something, I’d needed a new bag for work so that’s what I bought (a few people turned their heads confused when I did return to work with it).

In the evening we took a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo with the idea of watching the sunset, along with what looked like all of Firenze and perhaps Toscana as well, to say it was busy would be an understatement. Not that this mattered as there’s plenty of room in the huge square and surrounding steps and pathway up the hill to watch the sun go down and plenty of stalls to buy a beer from to drink while you do. There’s only one word I can use to describe the view from there, that is stunning. The colours of the sky, the rolling Tuscan hills beyond the city, the River Arno snaking through the centre reflecting the light, yes it was very pretty. Only disappointment of the day was dinner, by the time we got back down the hill and over the river to the city centre it was pretty late, we’d seen loads of people over the last couple of days with boxes from “Mr Pizza” so decided to check it out. Lets just say it was OK, Mr Pizza is allowed to keep his title as the MR of pizza, but only just.

Anyway onto the photographs from giorno sei, as usual all taken with my Olympus OM1 and either 50mm F.Zuiko or 28mm Vivitar lens attached, today’s film stock used was FujiColor C200. Enjoy.

1.jpg Another few shots of the Piazza round the Duomo, its inevitable since this is the centre of Firenze and one of, if not THE, tourist attraction. Plus come on, the buildings are beautiful. This is the Baptistery.

2.jpg The Campanile, the only part of the whole Duomo area that we didn’t go in or climb up (it’s quite open and Jo was not up for climbing up a building which you could theoretically fall out of).

3.jpg The Baptistery again.

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5.jpg The interior of the cathedral, see what I mean about the lack of gold? still bleeding impressive though, the floor is beautiful as is the architecture and decoration.

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7.jpg Really liked the look of this candle tree, so many churches have areas to light a candle and leave a donation, this one looked a little different.

8.jpg We got to see the painting on the interior of the dome tomorrow up close, for now you can see the scale of it from the floor. That’s a good few hundred feet up and it still looks massive.

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12.jpg These horse and carts were everywhere, Jo wasn’t pleased with them as she said the horses were the wrong breed for pulling such large carriages. These ones were in the shade but when they were out in the sun you could see the sweat pouring off them.

13.jpg Just look at the size of the place in comparison to the ant-like people below. Again crazy impressive how places like this were built without modern machinery.

14.jpg Inside the Museum Della Opera were half the statues sculpted for the cathedral are now stored and on display. An Awful lot of them of John The Baptist, like the one above.

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16.jpg John The Baptist again.

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18.jpg A bit of scale here, Jo stood next to this farcically large sculpture of one of the Popes. The details is incredible as well, just look at the folds in the clothing and the veins and skin folds on the hands.

19.jpg Michelangelo’s second last sculpture “Pieta”, you could walk right up to and around this masterpiece, although there was a guard who followed you around the entire time.

20.jpg When the sun starts to set the light got good. Long shadows, warm afternoon/early evening lighting is the way to go.

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22.jpg Piazalle Michelangelo, with this replica of David in the centre. This is before it got busy.

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24.jpg We end with these views of Firenze s the sun goes down, a shame the ISO on this film is a little insensitive for the lighting but I quite like the last image from this roll of film below. The silhouetted city with the glow of the setting sun reflecting off the river.

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