Saturday, 26 November 2011

3) fiorenze ii -- Il Duomo

It is what we miss that also matters

Il Duomo, Firenze

In search of the perfect gelato, the satisfying meal, the compensation to end all compensations for tired children’s worn wits after too much time in galleries… We glimpsed the Donatello doors on the beautiful Chapel in the heart of the village square, and, whilst able to circumnavigate the carvings and castings from the outside in the mauve Florentine dusk, we just didn’t’ manage to come back later that night whilst the children slept to do the great stairway climb…

We did, however, climb the Duomo, suffering the vertigo of those stairs, that view; photographing the breasts and beastly buttocks of the dome from close-range, the children averting their eyes from the bestialities close enough to brush their eyebrows. The daemon eating a man is truly spectacular, the dragon is fierce and blood thirsty. What a vision! What a control of perspective! And what a thing to remember that all of these paintings were meant to be viewed from the ground—so far away, a [k]night’s ride on horseback away, from the dome.

So it is like looking up to the galaxy: a panoply of stories, events and characters, full of warning and foreboding, but also a vision of goodness at its centre. Not exactly intimate, not as we currently understand that term. We are so used to the zoom lens, the magnifier, Here, there is instruction in the detail, each part of the vision threaded to the next, the harrowing of hell implicitly in relation to the chorus of saints singing the damned’s salvation. And one gets a sore neck to boot. [Head thrown back—you have to feel the effort of looking up to God].

The design of the floor is ordered: white marble patterned with a black geometric design, also exquisite in conception.

And at the rooftop, dominion of the brave, those who can look down, and over, the great ring of the building’s crown can see the
controlled order of green, trees banished to exile--up in the hills, nature pushed right away from the city’s core.

Still, this is the city where hundreds of padlocks are clamped along bridge railings, sealing lovers’ trysts, promises of steel bounded with a locksmith’s fortitude, an almost Japanese fetish to the intensity of the practice, not a hairs’ breath of space left on some bridge rails, this city’s promises are full and fulfilled into the future, stronger than the crumbling stoneware bridges themselves, as [com]pacted as the cobblestones.


In the opening bars of the morning (or is that the closing hours of the night), a woman wails in the street at 1 or 2am and continues for well over a half hour. It is a disconcerting sound; is she in high dudgeon, in even more great distress, or merely very drunk? Unfortunately, for her, she wails at the very hour I find it impossible to leaps from at the room like a gallant what sit and save her. My groggy too traveled head takes the whole half hour of her wailing to shake off enough feathers to let me think to rise and save her. There comes another voice in the street, soothing; now, highly awake but redundant, I am left alert for the next four hours....

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