Interior of the Santa Maria de Foire

Interior of Sta. Maria del Fiore, facing High Altar.

INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL The starkness of the interior disappoints some visitors as the truly magnificent art works that once adorned the interior have been removed to the Museum of the Dumo to protect them.

These magnificent art treasures including the marble choir stall or cantoria by Donatello donated by Cosimo di Medici, and another by Lucca della Robbia both regarded as a masterpieces of Renaissance art.



SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD. English visitors will enjoy finding a fresco commemorating the successful mercenary or condottiere, English born Sir John Hawkwood, who commanded an international band of well trained mercenaries and desperados known as The ‘White Company’ (subject of a novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). Hawkwood skilfully played off the shifting alliances and power politics of warring Italian city Italian states and ambitious Popes against each other so cleverly he often earned money from both sides One side paid him to fight for them and their rivals paid Hawkwood not to do so.


Fresco of Sir John Hawkwood by Ucello

Hawkwood was famous for leading his men to fight for Florence and also accepted substantial payments for refusing to fight against the city when requested to do this by a scheming Pope who was an enemy of Florence. Knighted for valour, Hawkwood married the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan and by now very wealthy retired to a villa on the outskirts of Florence.In 1394 he was buried in the cathedral with pious promises to erect a statue in his memory. These never eventuated and all Sir John received was a painted image on the cathedral walls, by Paolo Uccello.o, the talented master of perspective in painting. Ucello painted the delightful clock high on the walls of the cathedral with iron hands that move to tell the time.



THE SACRISTY AND ITS ROLE IN THE PAZZI CONSPIRACY. In April 1478 handsome young Guiliano de’Medici, brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, was murdered in the cathedral in a conspiracy originated by banking rivals of Medici.

At the time Cosimo di Medici was regarded by several leading families as having too much power and trying to establish a dynasty. He effectively controlled the Signoria by a network of friends and alliances, some of them bribed and some out of personal loyalty tot his exceptional man. This was the second attempt to kill Giuliao, the first having failed.


Giuliano dei Medici

Younger members of the Pazzi, pretended to be friends with Guiliano and Lorenzo to lure them to their death. Pope Sixtus was also involved in encouraging as the Pazzi conspiracy but after the event it was deemed wiser to ignore his involvement in this murderous conspiracy.

Several young male members of the Pazzy came to collect the two Medici youths from what is now the Medicii Riccardi Palace to attend mass in the cathedral. The Pazzi boys walked through the streets linking arms with the unarmed Medici boys. Both groups entered the cathedral with their servants and sat near the front. At a pre-arranged signal, which was the ringing of the sanctuary bell, the Pazzi and their servants fell on Guiliano di Medici with their daggers and killed him. Young Lorenzo escaped by vaulting over the altar rail and barricading himself inside the sacristy.

Florence was in an uproar. The Pazzi conspirators were caught, tried and sentenced to death, their heads placed on poles for the public to see, while their corpses with the entrails removed dangled from the Ponte Vecchio.

FRESCOES AND MEMORIALS. The frescoes on the interior of the dome were designed by Giorgio Vasari but centuries of candle grease had darkened them making them hard to see. These frescoes were restored in 1996 and presented to the public with a fanfare for the festivities of San Giovanni. The author of this website was present and noted that many of the viewers were disappointed. The final design and the work of painting the frescoes on to the wet plaster was not done by Vasari but one of his less talented pupils named, Federico Zucccari.


THE DUOMO Piazza del Duomo, Telephone 055-230-2885. www.operaduomo.firenze Free tours of the cathedral take place EACH DAY at 40 minute intervals. The interior of the cupola is open on weekdays from 8.30 am to 7 pm. Please do not wear shorts when visiting this cathedral which is a place of worship.