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Florence Dome - Baptistry - Bell tower of Giotto

The Duomo or S. Maria del Fiore Cathedral has a clear reference to the Florentine lily. The construction started after the project by Arnolfo di Cambio on 8 September 1296 under his direction of the works. The first draft and the works started following a plan and a drawing very different from the current one, smaller and collected in the terminal part. The project, modified by its master builder, Brunelleschi, who enlarged its dimensions, left the plant unchanged at the bottom of the "cross". Brunelleschi also modified some windows, reducing its width and to him we owe the realization of the bold self-supporting dome that made it famous all over the world. On the other hand at that time the church was the largest of Christianity, daring and beautiful. In detail, Arnolfo followed the work until his death in 1310. Works that suffered a slowdown in the following years to resume decisively in 1331 when the magistrates of the art of wool, they assumed the task of controlling the construction. In 1334 the master builder became Giotto, who mainly took care of giving the Cathedral a worthy bell tower, but in 1337 he also passed away with a better life, leaving the managerial position vacant. In the absence of a certain and capable direction, the works continued in sobs until 1367 when a competition was announced and the definitive model of the church was proposed by four painters and four sculptors who turned out to be successful. In 1378 the vault of the median nave was completed, and in 1380 the minor aisles were also completed. Between the 1380 and 1421 the tribunes were built and perhaps also the dome drum. The octagonal dome, made up of two caps of ogival shape connected to each other, was completed in 1434 according to the project of Filippo Brunelleschi, presented to a competition in 1418 and accepted after many contrasts in 1420. The temple dedicated to S. Maria del Fiore was consecrated on March 25, 1436.

The Duomo of Florence reveals all its age and the numerous additions that have been made over time and with the variation of architectural styles. On the outside, the blind arches, certainly refer to a Romanesque style, while the internal structure with its particular "vaults", refer to a godtica structure together with the doors and windows.

The Cathedral reveals in its parts remarkable diversity of style as evidence of the variation of taste in the long period of time spent between its foundation and completion. Outside, in the design of the sides with the round arches blind, there are Romanesque reminescences. The internal structure, with its large arches and ogival vaults, is Gothic, along with the windows and doors.

The dome, as is well known, given the constructive problems, is Renaissance. The facade is of the nineteenth century with clear references to the Gothic style. On the left side of the cathedral, there is the "door of the almond" (XV century), always in Gothic style. The plant has a Latin cross, three naves with ribbed vaults. The frescoes on the left side are by Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno. The terracottas on the lunettes of the doors of the two sacristies are by Luca della Robbia. By Lorenzo Ghiberti the design of the rose window.

In 1461 was built the lantern over the dome. In 1572, Vasari started to paint in fresco the inner side of the dome. In the original projectthe dome had to be decorated with mosaic works. In this time was impossible to calculate the total weight of all structure (dome and mosaic work), so they decided to do not risk a total crash. Today we are know that the entire dome is 26,000 tons, all brought up by men and animals. We even know that the dome and the structure, is able to support even a mosaic work like was originally projected. In fact Vasari had time to finish the first ring of frescoes and the owner to paint the rest of the dome, passed on Federico's Zuccari hands who finished the opera. Lucypher like all other figures is 8 and half meters tall (three Florentine arms). He was proud to mention it on his testament. In 1886 at the end, the Façade was finished. Made it with white Carrara marbles, green Prato marbles and red marbles from Siena . On the right pic, the unfinished Façade of the cathedral.

Curiosity. In Florence is used to say “bischero” to someone stupid or not reasonable. The origin for this appellation, come from the works of building Florence cathedral. When Florence and his administration, decided to enlarge the old cathedral, they had to buy the plots of ground around S. Reparata. Bischeri was the second name of a rich Florentine family, owner of some of this plots. The offert made by “opera del duomo” to buy them with the wood houses built over, was considered not enough high compared to the target of the opera's administrators. Bischeri waited too much to sell them. A night, we don't know how, all the houses were destroyed by a big blaze and the value of the plots, felt totally down. There is a second version of this story: Bischeri family made a reasonable business evaluation about the plots. Before the works started, the value of the plots was not too high. After the cathedral, the value of the plots'd become surely higher. They decide to get the money after the opera del duomo finished its works. In fast opera del duomo is still working after seven centuries and they never sow a cent for their plots! Bischero, after all that, means “stupid” in a friendly way. Someone who cannot manage his business.

The Baptistry of Saint Giovanni.The origin of the Florence baptistery is still uncertain. Tradition say that it was built during the roman empire like a temple dedicated to Mars. The octagonal base instead, suggest it was erected during the longobad domination during the VII century. In fact the baptistery enter officially in the story the 4 th march of 897 when the Count Paladino Amedeo sit in from of the baptistery door to administer justice. For some reasons the baptistery was more important of the church of Santa Reparata . The 6 th of November 1059, the Florentine Pope, Niccolò II, just elected, consecrates again the abbey which becomes again the Bishop main office. There are reasons to assume that temple was rebuilt or totally changed. For sure, the eight cloves dome was completed. On the west side, there was a altar positioned over a semicircular apse. In 1113 the church receive the spares of Bishop Ranieri. In 1128, S. Giovanni loose the title of cathedral and get permanently the title of baptistery. During that times, the baptism was administrated only two times a year so there were many people coming for the event. That's way there are many doors to get inside S. Giovanni 's bapt.. In 1172 Fiorenza ( Florence ) had about 30,000 citizens and the new walls wrap the city in a double surface compared the older (built by Matilde di Canossa in 1078). In the second half of XI century, the inner wall of the baptistery got the marble application. For the new floor, in marble a well, we have to wait the next century. In the second half of XII cent., started the application at the external walls. Made with 2 kinds of marble, white and green, it follow the classical taste made in squared figured designed with the marble's colours. We can find same colour periodicity on the application of the church of Santa Maria Novella made by Albergi in 1470. The border at the corners of the octagon, are decorated in horizontal alternate stripes representing a roman taste. The triangular decoration of the windows designed for the first time here, become soon a progenitor of inspirations during all the renaissance period.

In XIII century, start the inner decoration with mosaics at “scarsella” (circa 1225-28) and all the rest of the dome from 1270 till 1300. After been a innovative architectural laboratory, the baptistery becomes a painting laboratory as well. From Coppo di Marcovaldo and Cimabue it will go directly to Giotto. In the XIV cent. Florence start to think about new doors appropriate at the monument. The first commissioned to Andrea Pisano which realize it between 1330 and 1336. The other two, commissioned to Lore nzo Ghiberti which end the second door between 1401 and 1424, and the third named “door of paradise” between1425 and 1452. The sculptures over the doors were realized by Sansovino (1502, east door or paradise door), by Giovan Francesco Rustici (1506-11, north door), and Vincenzo Danti (1570, south door. Ghiberti realized even this door frames between 1452 and 1462. At the sides of the paradise door there are 2 colums given to Florence from Pisa as tanks for the military help got from Florence against Lucca (1117). Both colums are broken and a popular tradition that Pisa sent them covered by draps to hide the damages. That's why people say: “Florentines are blind, Pisanes are traitors”. At last, inside the baptistery there is the statue of anti-pope Giovanni XXIII, made by Donatello and Michelozzo in 1421-27. The origin of the baptistry of Florence is still cloudy. Tradition wants that it has been built up in roman age like tempio the God Mars. The formulation to octagonal base makes to think next to the period of the domination longobarda of the WAYS century, is of fact that the baptistry officially enters in the history 4 March 897 when conte the Amedeo Champion is based in front of the door of the baptistry for amminstrare the justice. For some reason it was more important of the church of Reparata saint to its shoulders. 6 not vembre 1059, the pontefice fiorentino second Niccolò, hardly elect, riconsacra the basilica that becomes of new center of the bishop. We believe that in this occasion the tempio it has been transformed or fors' also reconstructed. Of sure the cupola to eight segments it was completed while on the side the west there was an altar over a semicircular apse. In the 1113 church it receives the interment of Ranieri bishop. In the 1128 Saint Giovanni it only abandons in order always the rank of cathedral and reservoir that one of Baptistry. To the age the sacramento came only trained two times the year and the afflusso of the population it advised numerous doors of access. We remember that in the 1172 "Fiorenza" it turns out to have 30,000 inhabitants and the new cerchia of walls, the quarter, encloses one at least double surface regarding third, constructed from Matilde di Canossa in 1078. In the second half of XI the century it is provided to the marmoreo covering of the inside while for the new pavement, anch' it in marble, must wait for the successive century.

In the second half of century XII, it comes inziata the work of marmoreo covering of the baptistry. The two used marbles, the white man of Carrara and the green of Prato follow a taste classic to pictures design to you with the alternation of the colors of marbles, then resumption from the albergi in 1470 in order to design to the facade of the church of Saint Maria novel. The costoni to the angles of the octagon they are instead to strisce horizontal alternated and they are rifared to a Romanesque taste. The semicircular acute eardrums over the windows, are an architectonic prototype that will come resumed for all the rinascimentale period.

In the 1200's the way to the inner decoration covering of mosaics is given the scarsella (approximately the 1225-28) and entire cupola (approximately 1270-1300). After to have been an innovative yard as far as the architecture, the Baptistry becomes therefore the laboratory of the new pittorica school fiorentina that they give Coppo di Marcovaldo and Cimabue (active in Saint Giovanni) carries to Giotto. In the 1300's it is finally begun to think next to new worthy doors of the monument: before it comes commissioned to the scultore Andrea Pisano, than it it executes between 1330 and 1336, the others two to Lorenzo Ghiberti, than complete second between 1401 and 1424 and third, said "of the Paradise", between 1425 and 1452. The sculptures over ognuna of the doors are work of Sansovino (1502, east Door, or of the Paradise), of Peasant Giovan Francisco (1506-11, Door north) and of Vincenzo They give (1570 to you, Door south, that it boasts also crams to you carved in the 1452-62 from Vittorio di Lorenzo Ghiberti).
To sides of the Door of the Paradise two columns of porfido are found donated from the pisani to the fiorentini like thanks for the military aid supplied in 1117 defending Pisa from Lucca while the fleet was engaged to the Baleari against the Muslems. The two columns are broken, perhaps as a result of some alluvium, but a malicious popular tradition wants that they have been sent already broken off and for these blankets from drappi that they hid to them: from here the saying "Fiorentini blind and pisani traitor". To remember, in the inside, the monument to antiPope Giovanni XXIII, executed from Donatello and Michelozzo in 1421-27.

Door north scheme - Door east scheme - Door South - Mosaic outline of batpistery

The bell tower of Giotto. Giotto Bell tower. When Giotto become master builder, he dedicated all his interests in projecting and realize the bell tower. His project prefigured a pyramidal cusp at the top of the tower 30m tall. (50 Florentine arms). In total the tower should be 110- 115 meters tall. The intention of Giotto was to built 2 different stairs. One as service passage and another one to serve the rooms in the intention of Giotto, had to be representative for city guests. How to realize them without weaken all the tower structure. Andrea Pisano lost his work because he was not able to resolve it. In fact he realized the 2 different stairs till the first floor but not over it and to have walls strong enough to sustain the tower weight, he had to close some windows. The basic window you can see from outside it's just a fake. Inside there are just 2 little holes to get some light. The bell tower works ended in 1359 after a stop caused by the black pest in the city. Talenti finished it but he radically crossed out the second stair from the frist floor to the top. t the end of works, the tower bell is not completed yet. The 30 meter cusp was never realized. A the moment the tower is still and just a parallelepiped without the original projected top.


Complesso del duomo di Firenze
Credits Di Gryffindor - Opera propria,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4302391

Complesso del duomo di Firenze
Credits Collegamento Immagine Autore: Shann Yu Licenza: CC BY-ND 2.0
Complesso del duomo di Firenze
Sezione della cupola di Santa Maria del Fiore
Complesso del duomo di Firenze
Complesso del duomo di Firenze
Credits Collegamento Immagine Autore: Kim Licenza: CC BY-SA 2.0
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