While beginning the climb of the 463 stairs up the cupola of the most famous church in Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore, I could not help but reflect on every single history class I have attended at IUSB.
The climb was long and arduous, but completely worth it. As I huffed and puffed my way up the stairs I tried to remind myself what it would be like to be in the stairwells between 1296 and 1436 when the church was being constructed. What stories the ancient walls surrounding me must have. The small and rare windows gave brief glimpses of Florence that showed you how far you were going up and a little breeze that surely was not enough for the people working away on the dome. After about ¾ of your journey, you walk through a door way and you are suddenly underneath the dome, surrounded by an amazing fresco painted by Giorgi Vasari and Federico Zuccari. The detail (shown in the photo above) is amazing and humbling to think about the time, work, and number of years it took to complete.
After a large handful more of very steep stairs, some which act like ladders, you arrive outside. It takes you a minute to realize that you are standing on top of the doom of the church as you stand at the railing, but the view is amazing. Other spots in Florence offer tourists grand views of the city, but nothing quite like being on top of the Duomo (Italian for church). Being on top of the Duomo is like standing of top of the ancient history of Florence because the climb to the top makes you feel like you conquered a great obstacle, just as the Florentine’s debated and struggled to figure out how to finish the dome.
Blog post by International Programs intern Jackie Thornton and originally published in our newsletter.