Florence, Italy:

27 Jan

Florence rose from classical obscurity to become “the birthplace of the Renaissance”, becoming central among the competing Italian city states. Rising from the sea of terra-cotta tiled roofs in Florence, the Duomo of Florence is the largest masonry dome in the world. It is suitable that the Italian word for cathedral is Duomo, literally translating to dome. The modern Italian language originates from the accents of Tuscany, through the prominence the region achieved by leadership of Florence during the Renaissance.

The Egg & The Architect:

Built by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1436, the dome was the finishing touch to a cathedral whose construction started 140 years earlier in 1296. The Duomo of Florence was the largest in the world at the time, and the dome would have to be larger than what was thought possible. The city of Florence put out a call all across Europe, which was answered by all the most esteemed architects, including a gold smith who had been studying the domes of Rome: Filippo Brunelleschi. Each architect was asked to present their plan on how to build the dome: one idea was to build a giant column to hold the dome up, another was to build it of a light ‘sponge stone’. Finally, Brunelleschi presented, verbally describing his plan, but the commission asked him for a physical representation. He feared the prying eyes of those who would steal his plan, so instead he pulled an egg from his cloak. Whoever can make this egg stand on end would prove to be the architect for the job. The commission allowed this incredulous test, to which none of the architects could succeed. Bruneleschi took the egg, and lightly smashed it into the table, and indeed it stood upright on its leaking, flat bottom. Impressed with this show and boasting, the commission awarded him the project. To this day the egg shaped dome of Florence stands towering over the city of Florence, a feat defying gravity and a product of ingenuity.


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