|Duomo exterior by night (c) 2016 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved|
Sometimes I get my inspiration for Travel Horizons by reading the Europe forum on fodors.com — an interesting mixture of shared wisdom and (sometimes) misinformation. Consider this posting entitled Venice, Florence - too many museums. The writer's planned trip to Italy includes "2 days in Venice, 3 days Florence." She is reaching out to other readers on advice on maximizing her time enjoying museums and churches. And then she makes this jaw-dropping comment.
I've read that the interior of the Duomo is not that great.Shared misinformation, indeed! If you walk into the Duomo without knowing its history, you'll be unaware of the engineering and architectural wonder that it represents. When the cathedral was built, its Renaissance designers wanted to crown it with the largest self-supporting dome in the world, but they didn't possess the technology to accomplish their dream. The Santa Maria del Fiore, under construction for more than a hundred years (not an atypical time-frame), remained dome-less with no conception of how to complete it. So a competition was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome ... shall do so before the end of the month of September."
That competition was won by Filippo Brunelleschi, and you can read his amazing story in Brunelleschi's Dome. This book is a must-read before you travel to Florence. If you know the story, walk into the cathedral and look up at the Dome; you'll be filled with awe and wonder. Then climb the stairs to the top of the Dome, the same stairs used by the workers in its construction. These stairs wind their way between the inner and outer layers of the Dome (did you know there were two domes?) to a parapet at the top with a commanding view of Florence.
I'm stunned that not one Fodor's reader challenged the poster's misinformation, as the forum is frequented by some very experienced travelers. Just a reminder that (a) not everything you read on the internet is true, (b) google is not a substitute for an expertise of a travel advisor, and (c) a great guide can add so much to your travel experience. I did respond with my advice; I hope the original poster actually reads it. It would be a shame to visit Florence and miss the Duomo.
copyright (c) 2016 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.