As if to thank the residents of Florence for enduring the 2 month long lockdown, the government has given us free admission into the complex of the duomo. As the 4 buildings of the baptistery, the bell tower, the cathedral and the museum reopen, we can, with reservations made online, visit these sites for free. Hallelujah! I am seriously in need of some artistic nourishment.
I was one of the first people to enter the baptistery on May 22 and, for a period of about 10 minutes, I had the entire place to myself. Wow. That’s an exceedingly rare experience and I’ll remember it forever.
This town and the baptistery are both dedicated to the patron saint of St. John the Baptist.
The next few pictures are of the ceiling and the altar itself in in the altar niche in the baptistery. First, Christ in Majesty in mosaic.
opposite: The Virgin and Child.
Below, the central medallion over the altar.
I really love the simple, medieval decoration of the back wall. It has not been “Renaissanced” up.
The exterior of the baptistery is so wonderful, with the striped patterns made up of creamy white and dark green veneers of marble:
Back inside, the tomb of Pope Paul XXIII by Donatello is under cover for the moment.
Below, more details of the altar space:
And now, for the outstanding mosaic cycle in the domed space above. I’ll never forget confronting the face of Jesus when I made my first visit to Florence when I was 27. I wasn’t prepared for this Byzantine visage, thinking Florence would be all-Renaissance, all the time.
A statue of St. John the Baptist above and below:
The eye wanders up to the dome again and again:
A sarcophagus that looks like it might be a recycled Roman era object, with a lid that clearly relates to Christianity.
I love looking at the gallery space, especially the inlaid ceilings:
The ceiling in the gallery space below is treated with mosaics as well.
And once more, looking up at the dome:
It is also worth looking down. The many-patterned pavement in this august building is superb:
And now for the font, the building’s raison d’être:
And now, one last look at the Baptistery with no one in it but Byzantine Jesus and me.
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