The dome that crowns Florence’s great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery. Still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries, it is taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as an average cruise ship. Historians and engineers have long debated how its secretive architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, managed to keep the dome perfectly aligned and symmetrical as the sides rose and converged toward the center, 40 stories above the cathedral floor. His laborers toiled without scaffolding or safety net, applying novel, untried methods. Over 4 million bricks might collapse at any moment—and we still don’t understand how Brunelleschi prevented it. To test the latest theories, a team of U.S. master bricklayers will help build a unique experimental model Duomo using period tools and techniques. Will it stay intact during the final precarious stages of closing over the top of the dome?
Find the complete article on: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/il-duomo/mueller-text
I had the fortune and great pleasure to get to know Professor Massimo Ricci, who has been studying the secrets of Brunelleschi’s Dome since 1975. He is an unconventional teacher with incredible sense of humor who dedicated his last 30 years to study the architecture of the Cupola.
I attended his specific lectures about the Renaissance, medieval masonry tecniques and of course, about the Florentine Duomo, which is considered one of the Renaissance marvels of the town.
I could have never expected he would accompany us into the Duomo back then, “during its completition” …..It was an most amazing trip back into history. Prof. Ricci took me and a few other pupils into a small scale Cupola which has been reproduced among the poplars of a public garden along the River Arno (the pictures above were taken by Florencewithflair on the spot during the lesson). Through a narrow passage (as you can see we literally had to enter lying on a cart pulled in and out from the structure) he introduced us to the real project that Brunelleschi had in mind. An intricated system of ropes and bricks above an imposing octagonal wooden platform suspended from the drum of the Cathedral let us understand how the architect calculated the pose of the two self supporting domes. This grand engineering experiment, led by Prof. Massimo Ricci reveals how Brunelleschi built his dome. His explaination will be on air on February 12, 2014 on NOVA/PBS, thanks to the 2013 survey conducted by the National Geographic in Florence.
Don’t miss the “Great Cathedral Mystery“…and above all don’t miss the VISIT ON THE SPOT WITH FLORENCEWITHFLAIR!
For deep focus visits to Brunelleschi’s Dome and to Prof. Ricci’s model please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org