Earlier this week Jason and I watched a special about the secrets of Florence. I don't think that we really learned anything new, but it was nice to see because it brought back so many great memories of our travels there.
I like to learn as much as I can about a place before I travel there; I find that it makes the experience better when I can connect the dots during our trip ("Oh, look, here's a statue of Chopin; they have his statue here in Warsaw because he's from here, and he said that he was inspired to write his music by the wind blowing through the trees of his native and beloved Poland." And all of our Polish friends fell in love with me then and there.). :) Before we went to Florence the first time in March of 2005, I read this book about how Filippo Brunelleschi designed and built the largest dome ever built of bricks and mortar. EVER. It was completed in 1436 and they still don't know exactly how he did it; he was fiercely proprietary about his designs, and he left no drawings or plans behind. Five hundred seventy three years later and it's still the largest. What other record has lasted that long?
I was (and am, obviously) fascinated by it. Brunelleschi, trained as a goldsmith, for crying out loud, had to fight (even literally) to be appointed and remain the lead architect. He not only had to completely invent a design for the dome, but he had to invent tools and machinery to make it come to fruition. And most impressive, the dome is still standing. If it doesn't seem like that big of a deal that this thing hasn't fallen in on itself yet, please consider that Galileo Galilei, the "Father of Modern Physics and Science," wasn't even born until the dome had already been standing for 128 years. In other words, Brunelleschi was a technical and mathemathical genius, far ahead of his time. [For all my art school friends, he also is credited with inventing one-point linear perspective. For real.]
So when we traveled there in March of 2005, I was already fascinated with the dome; being able to climb up inside, in between the inner and outer domes, and see the herringbone brickwork was just amazing. Our friends Kellie and Alex were with us, so I proceeded to tell them all about everything I'd learned. By the end of our walk up and around and back down, I'd developed quite a group of people around us, listening in to my free tour!
We traveled back to Florence several times, and Il Duomo still holds a special place in my heart. I took many, many photos of it, but this one might be my favorite. To get it, we had to climb up 414 steps in Giotto's Campanile (bell tower).
Totally worth it, right?
I hope that something fascinates and inspires each of us this weekend! Have a great one! :)