by Melinda Gallo

Terrazze del Duomo

I found out about the Terrazze del Duomo (Terraces of the Duomo) by chance a few months ago. I had originally asked two different friends of mine, but we never found the time to go together. Then, just a month ago, Alessandro told me that a group of his colleghi (colleagues) had organized a visit. I was so excited to go that he signed us up the next day. Every time I walked past the Duomo these past few weeks, I have looked up to see the terrazze and tried to imagine what it would be like up there. I couldn't wait for the experience myself, so when we met up with the group in front of the Duomo, I was beside myself.

Living in Florence :: Terrazze del Duomo

Fortunately for us the sun was peeking through the thick clouds and no rain was forecasted for the day. The guida turistica (tour guide), a young bubbly fiorentina (Florentine girl), handed out the headsets and instructed that we put them on immediately.

She led us into the chiesa (church) and explained a few details about the church that I found interesting. I didn't realize that when Santa Maria del Fiore was built that it was the largest chiesa in the world. Now it is the fourth largest. She explained that Florence honored specific people more than popes or or other important religious figures: the four busts at the back of the chiesa are of people who hanno fatto del bene alla città (did good for the city).

I had seen "La Divina Commedia di Dante" fresco inside the Duomo before, but the guida turistica said something that stuck with me. She said that it represented that "Ai Fiorentini, Firenze è il paradiso. (To the Florentines, Florence is heaven.)"

The guida turistica led us up the dark, winding staircase to a small gated room with 10-foot statues and a guard was waiting for us. He closed the gate behind us and then opened a small door, leading outside. As soon as the guard walked outside, I quickly followed behind him. The guida turistica informed us that we were on the north side of the Duomo where we were facing Santissima Annunziata.

It was amazing to see the city from this height downtown, but I was also impressed by the many apartments around the Duomo with their tall windows and terrazze.

I was distracted by the view and didn't pay as much attention to the guida turistica as I would've liked to. I couldn't believe that I was standing on the terrazze of the Duomo. I enjoyed standing above the facciata (façade) to watch people entering the chiesa. I also loved seeing the Battistero from above in its entirety.

While standing above the Duomo's entrance, I could see so much of the city: from Orsanmichele and Piazza Repubblica to Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo. We were led back inside the chiesa and walked above the clock at the back of the church. I thought we were going to head back down, but instead we walked back out the other side of the facciata and were right next to the Campanile di Giotto.

While the guida turistica explained how the chiesa was built, I kept my eyes glued on the panorama. She explained that workers stayed for many weeks and sometimes months to build the cupola (dome) without ever going back down to return home.

We walked back inside and found ourselves in the walkway under the frescoes in the cupola. At this point, the guida turistica left us and we were allowed to walk up to the top of the cupola. After all this time that I've been in Florence, this was the first time that I've gone to the top of the Duomo. Almost everyone who has come to visit me has gone up to the top, but I kept waiting for the right time.

So today was extremely special for me because I finally walked to the top of the Duomo, the tallest point in the city. I took many pictures of my city: chiese, monuments, rooftops, and hills in the distance. I was surprised by how many private giardini (gardens) there are sprinkled around the city. It always seems like there isn't much greenery in town, but there actually is.

I was impressed by the top of the Duomo because of the unhindered views, but I did enjoy the terrazze because I had never experienced the chiesa like this before. I hope to visit both the terrazze and the cupola again because the views of the city are truly breathtaking.

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