As soon as I knew that I would be living in Italy for three months, I was immediately overjoyed. Within Europe, Italy has to be one of the best countries to see a variety of different cities and cultures all within one small area. Italy originally comprised a number of independent city-states, and these then developed into their own distinct cities with separate identities. In the north there are Milan, Venice, and Bologna, then moving farther south one will find Rome, Naples, Palermo, and of course Castellammare di Stabia! For my first weekend trip however, I decided to venture into Florence- the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.
Recognized by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence (or Firenze) also plays host to an absolute bounty of historical sites and artifacts. Easily the most eye-catching attractions in the city is the large cathedral dubbed the Santa Maria del Fiore, pictured below from a variety of angles.
This building is usually called The Duomo, and construction began on it in the year 1296, but wasn’t structurally completed until 1436. The architecture of the dome itself was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and the building in general has a gorgeous exterior inlaid with different colors of marble panels. Painted on the interior of the dome is an expansive fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, which focuses on the scene of The Last Judgement. This was painted in the later years of the 16th century, and is shown in the photograph below.
Also within the square is another structure called Giotto’s Campanile, a type of tower that stands in the same square, adjacent to the cathedral. This served as a bell tower, and is also extremely representative of the Gothic architecture of the area.
The best part here was being able to climb to the top of both the Duomo and the bell tower. Although it was quite the workout (consisting of 877 steps in total), it was totally worth the view from the top. From here we could see the entire city of Florence laid out below, with the rolling Tuscan hills surrounding on all sides. From this vantage point, the true beauty of Florence is especially apparent, and I will be putting this city on my list of must-returns!