A Taste of Italy: Part 1 – Firenza Day 3

Posted: 6 May 2015 in Travel
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Il Duomo

Il Duomo

Day 3

The front and tower

The front and bell tower

This day was the day I had been waiting for; the day we were able to see Il Duomo! We’d been around the outside a handful of times, but now we were going to be going inside. Because of our exhaustion from the day before, we had a much later start than we should have had. Had we known how long it was going to take to see everything we would have made a bigger effort to leave earlier. It’s not that there is a massive amount of things to see. There is the baptistry, the bell tower, the chapel, a catacomb (of sorts), a museum, and naturally the climb to the top of the dome. What made it take so long were the ridiculously long queues.

The shortest and quickest of the queues (and where we knew there was a ticket booth) was at the bell tower. So we started there. First let me say that when you are there, be sure and get a ticket to see everything. It is worth it. And regardless whether you are there during tourist season or not, go early. Right. The bell tower. Giotto’s bell tower has 414 steps and (depending on your cardiorespiratory system) can take about 20-30 minutes to climb. Let me tell you it is worth the climb. It is a tight climb so best to not be claustrophobic. As you climb, you can see the seven bells and then an incredible panoramic view when you get to the top.

Inside the Baptistry

Inside the Baptistry

By the time we got down from the top of the tower, the lines to the next three attractions were getting pretty lengthy. So we evaluated the lines and opted for the baptistry. We got in quick enough so it was a good choice. What I loved about the Baptistry of San Giovanni was its structure. It is octagonal. The light brightens up the room from the over 40 windows placed right below the base of the ceiling. The ceiling is beautifully illustrated with a hole right in the middle giving a quick peek at the blueness beyond it. Such a gorgeous room.

Inside Il Duomo

Inside Il Duomo

As it was only the one room, we got through it fairly quickly. Now came the long waits. We decided to see inside the cathedral before climbing the dome. There is always something awe-inspiring when you first walk into cathedrals like Il Duomo. Imposing really. And cold, but strikingly beautiful. The white walls and marble floor gave it a sense of modernity. The floors were my favourite part. Part of the floor design was very 3D illusional. So cool.

As we were going towards the exit, we happened to notice people heading a different direction. No I am by nature curious and love to explore so I had to check it out. Unbeknownst to us was another small museum underneath the building, which we were able to see since we had bought the complete ticket! It was pretty cool down there. Also got to see some bones tucked away in places. But then again, it wouldn’t be called the Crypt if there weren’t any.

Brunelleschi's Dome

Brunelleschi’s Dome

And now came the highlight of the day: the climbing of Brunelleschi’s Dome. Not necessarily the climbing part, but the view we would be getting. And to be honest, the climb wasn’t all that bad. You have to climb 463 steps, which if you’ve bought the complete ticket then you’ve already had a taste of what that’s like. The queue was the worst part. Since we got there later in the day, we had to wait a while. It almost seemed like the attendants went on lunch and left us all waiting. But no matter. Eventually we made it through the entrance.

What I loved about the climb is that you are able to get up close to the gorgeous ceiling in the apse. The ceiling in the baptistry is beautiful, but the ceiling in the dome is something special. As you wind the stairs, you are then brought out just below it. It has such exquisite detail. I loved the transition from those saved (at the top) to those being dragged to hell (at the bottom).

Giotto's tower and Firenza from the dome

Giotto’s tower and Firenza from the dome

After you’ve wound your way through the walls of the apse, you exit to a lovely panoramic view high above the city. At this point you can understand why the line takes so long. They can only allow small groups at a time since space at the top of the dome is so limited. As soon as a certain amount of people have begun the climb back down, they ready the next group to begin the climb. The view is incredible though. We were lucky to have gone on a day where the sky was speckled with only a few clouds. It was awesome.

The last thing we saw (as we really didn’t know about it until we saw it after exiting the dome) was the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. We were lucky we got to see any of it as they were doing construction for it and only a few rooms were still open. It is currently closed due to this construction, but is set to reopen its doors at the end of October 2015. I can’t wait to go back and check out the remainder of what there is to see there. What we did get to see was the original doors to the baptistry. We had no idea that the current doors were merely replicas. It made it worth it just for that.

The original doors to the baptistry seen at the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

The original doors to the baptistry seen at the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

Now that we were finally done with all there was to see in the plaza, we allowed ourselves some time to get something to eat. For a very late lunch, we ate at a cafe in the plaza. Surprisingly, it wasn’t terribly overpriced and the food was quite delicious. If I was being honest, I’d say I can’t remember the name of the place. But I’m thinking it was Caffe Duomo, so that’s what I’m sticking with. All I know is that I had the lasagna and it was yummy.

After we got our stuff moved to our new hostel (Hotel Toscana. I do not recommend it), we rested for a bit before figuring out where to go for dinner. This was were I introduced John to the wonder that is kebab. Some countries call it kebab, some shawarma, but whatever you call it it is heaven. I recalled seeing a place on Via Faenza so we headed back there to find it. It is a small hole in the wall place called Star Kebab (on 10 Via Faenza not 22). I mean even the picture shows a 10 by it). The owner is super friendly and the food is amazing and not very expensive at all. I highly recommend it. Naturally, we got some gelato (which we ate practically every day) afterward. Our usual place was at Il Triangolo Delle Bermuda. The staff were very friendly and the gelato delicious. Gelato shops are a dime a dozen naturally, but you should definitely give this place a shot.

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