Florence Hotel Golf · Florence DomeWhile visiting Hotel Golf in Florence a sure sight to see is the Florence Dome.
The first stone of the new Florence Cathedral, named Santa Maria del Fiore, was ceremoniously laid by artist and architect Arnolfo di Cambio in September 1296. The project was assigned to him in 1294 with the objective of building a new and more sumptuous cathedral to replace the old Santa Reparata. At the time Arnolfo was Head Architect of the City Council, and already revolutionizing the Franciscan basilica of Santa Croce.
Arnolfo spent his last years working on completing the two bays and the new facade, which were only halfway finished when he died.
The new basilica was indeed of grandeur with three wide naves that meet in the vast chancel where the high altar stands and surrounded by the "trefoil" shaped tribune on which the cupola rests. Like that of the Baptistery, found opposite the cathedral and dating back to the 11th century, the diameter of the Dome was projected to be 45.5 meters.
Arnolfo worked on the Cathedral up until his death in 1302 when work grounded to a halt. Some thirty years later in 1334, Giotto was named to oversee further construction and most of his time was dedicated to building the Bell tower but when he died, shortly after in 1337, only the lowest part of the tower had been finished.
Work was then succeeded by Andrea Pisano, author of the South Doors of the Baptistery, up until 1348 when the terrible plague reduced the population in half from 90,000 to 45,000.
The Bell tower was finally completed in 1359 after 10 years of work overseen by Francesco Talenti. In 1360, a new project was begun with the collaboration of Giovanni di Lapo Ghini.
The project saw the division of the center nave into foursquare bays, with fewer windows than the original design by Arnolfo, and with two lateral bays. By 1370 the project was already well advanced, although Giovanni di Lapo Ghini had left, and a new project for the apse to amplify Arnolfo's "trefoil". In 1375 Santa Reparta was taken down which indicated that Santa Maria del Fiore was now ready to be the new cathedral of Florence. The splendid stained glass windows should not be forgotten, mainly executed from 1434-1445 to the designs of such important artists as Donatello, Andrea del Castagno and Paolo Uccello. Also notable are the wooden inlays of the Sacristy cupboards to the designs of Brunelleschi, Antonio Del Pollaiolo and others.
The Cupola's interior remained undecorated until Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) and Federico Zuccari (c. 1540-1609) painted a huge and not entirely satisfactory Last Judgement there. The sculptured marble panels illustrate a cycle centred on the theme of the order of the universe.
Many year later, in 1586, Grand Duke Francesco I de'Medici decided to construct a new faade. The sculptures, then found on the existing facade, some of Arnolfo himself, were dismantled and transferred to the Museum of the Opera inside the Duomo.