The Cattedrale di S. Maria del fiore is the iconographic image that comes to mind whenever you think about Florence, Italy. It dominates the city’s skyline and is rightfully ranked as one of the great achievements in architecture. The span of the dome is enormous (I think I read that it is the fourth largest dome in the world) and was the first to use cantilevered brinks to support the structure while it was being erected. In addition to the enormous dome the church itself is very striking, the use of green and white marble gives it a unique look.
The interior is expansive as you might expect and is still actively used for religious services. Here in Italy the Church demands decorum from all visitors and this one was not an exception. Though more forgiving of dress (especially for women – a few visitors were showing an awful lot of leg for church) they were more strict about imposing silence. They must of had a recording cued off of a decibel meter because ever so often you would hear a booming stern voice saying: “Shhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhhh! Silencio! Silence!”. Then things would quiet down for awhile. But not for long; we heard the announcement twice in the short time we stayed inside.
While we were there a German (I think) tourist choir sang a hymn fro the floor of the church. They were WAY better than the church choirs that I’ve heard before. Let’s just say they didn’t get the old SILENCIO! treatment.