"Donatello made a wooden crucifix which was placed in Santa Croce [and] he was anxious to hear Filippo's opinion of it; but Filippo told him that he had shown a peasant hanging on the cross. This provoked Donatello to retort: 'Get some wood and do it yourself"...Filippo kept quiet for a few months while he worked on a wooden crucifix of the same size...Today this work is in Santa Maria Novella."
Once again I am brought to write about something amazing, historical, and butt-fuckingly classy coming from Italy. Really, knowing this, I SHOULD feel pressure, you might think, fear, even, that this topic might not be good enough to top, let alone follow the supreme epic-ness of Venice in all her beauty, romanticism, and ass-holery. But really, I am supremely confident that the dish I have to serve to you this week is so (excuse my french) FUCKING COOL, that if by the end of this essay you are not buying a first class one-way ticket to Italy, I will give you a full refund. Enticed? Aroused even? Well settle down, I haven't even told you what I'm writing about yet- it's the Duomo in Florence that’s what. Though its more properly referred to as Santa Maria del Fiore, or Saint Mary of the Flower, this is just a ruse to hide you from how incredibly un-girly the entire thing is, like naming a boy Mary, or Mike Tyson having the voice of a pubescent Mickey Mouse (it was also named this on account of the fact that it’s supposed to be an allusion to the lily symbol of Florence. Or something). The whole idea for the church started way back in the late 13th century, because the original church of the city, the Santa Reparata, was ever so slowly turning into a shithole. There were leaks every where, chunks of the building were falling off, people were straight up walking half-way across the city to go to some other, safer church, because hey, they wanted to get close to God, but not THAT close, if you know what I mean.
|An artist's represantation of what it may have looked like.|
When the Medici, the rulers of the city, caught wind of this, they just got pissed, mostly on account of the fact that other cities, like Pisa, and Siena, were totally building huge new churches, and Florence wasn’t about to get out-churched by a city that was one ‘s’ away from being called Piss. Deciding to pull out the big guns, the Medici called on one of the greatest architects of the time, Anolfo di Cambio to design them the biggest baddest cathedral this side of the spaghetti bowl, or to be a little more blunt, the LARGEST Roman Catholic Church IN THE WORLD. Well he got to work, designed that shit to perfection, and after two years or so, laid the first ceremonial brick on the build site on September 8, 1296, like a Boss. Also, Fun Fact: the cathedral was actually built in the old spot of the Santa Reparata, which had to be carefully demolished. This did not take long, however, since all they really had to do was just kinda of blow at it, and the whole thing toppled like a house of cards (shitty cards, that is). Things were going swimmingly, that is until Arnolfo up and died out of nowhere in 1302, severely slowing down the construction of the project. After that, everyone kinda lost interest in the whole project, until in 1330 they found the body of St. Zanobius in the wreckage of the Santa Reparata (Shitty-Church).
|St. Zenobius- Patron saint of "Not my Problem."|
Despite the huge surge of popularity garnered to the church on account of this huge find, it wasn’t until 1331 that Arte della Lana stepped up to take over the whole project, only for him to die like, six years later in 1337. Construction finally resumed in 1355, when this time, instead of appointing one guy over a super huge architectural project that couldn’t afford to be slowed down, in a time when you could die just by stepping in mule crap (Which. Was. EVERYWHERE), they instead appointed a whole bunch of different architects, like Francesco Talenti, Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni d’Ambrogio, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini, Neri di Fioravante and Orcagna. Sadly, a few years later they all died. Naw, just kidding, they were fine, and they were good too, they managed to finish the nave by 1380, and put up all kinds of marble, and decorations and junk around the cathedral, so that by 1418, the Santa Maria was looking hot- except for the dome. Just imagine the church, as is, and then just erase the dome. Looks pretty stupid doesn't it? It's like a hot chick with a spooky tooth. Just no good.
|"I mean, I want this relationship to progress, i'ts just everytime we get close you jump on a broomstick and start cackling"|
And just like a girl with a spooky tooth can't afford the surgery necessary to fix said tooth, none of the architects working on the project could figure out how in the hell they were supposed to construct the world's largest dome to fit on the world's largest cathedral, without it just collapsing all over errverybody. So what did these masters of their craft, the historic architects of the fabulous Renaissance think of? They held a contest for who could design the best dome. Like, on the back of a freaking cereal box. Sadly, this did not draw in as many people as might have been expected, since the whole thing was kind of just between two guys (and a small army of muscle-bound guidos who just signed up to impress their friends, but they don't count), still, quality over quantity, and boy did they get quality. The two competitors were Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, and talk about a battle royale, Ghiberti had already won a competition a few years earlier to build the bronze doors for the Baptistry in 1401, but Brunelleschi was supported by Cosimo de Medici (to put it in perspective, that’s like getting supported by 2008 post-election Obama), so he was pretty confident that if he wanted to, not only could he win the competition, but he could probably get a blowjob or two from the friggin judges if he felt like it. He turned out to be right (about the winning the competition thing, not the dick sucking thing), submitting a design that not only knocked the socks off of Renaissance architecture, but modern architecture as well. How did he come up with such a brilliant design, the largest known domed ceiling in the entire world? Well, while all y’all real serious architects might have looked through hours upon hours of extensive texts, and researched into the wee hours of the morn, like chumps, Brunelleschi just got up one morning (probs woke up late too and didn’t care) and while making his breakfast of eggs, he noticed that the egg shells he cracked in half (probs with a killer karate chop) managed to stand up on their own- and there it was. So when he showed up on the construction site the first day, with errverybody telling him that there was no way they could make that ginourmous size a dome without some flying buttresses, he just whipped out his design, and then proceeded to watch while literally every single architecture student in the city came to him to professionally ride his dick.
|EVERYBODY CHILL THE FUCK OUT- I got this.|
Still, even though his design won the competition, the Republic in charge of the construction tried to get him and Ghiberti to work together- this did not work out so well. The two got along well enough, but Ghiberti himself even admitted that the entire project was way over his head (no pun intended, unless you laughed, in which case, pun completely intended), and the two years they were required to spend working together on the site just kind of became really not cool and awkward, like in the American Office (you know, that TV show with Emmy Award winner Steve Carrel- oh wait that’s right, he didn’t win the award, because the Emmys are COCKBLOCKING ASSHOLES) when Jim became co-manager with Micheal, and it sucked, and they had to give some b-s plot excuse to get Jim the fuck up outta there. Eventually though, Ghiberti left, and the real work could begin. Brunelleschi proved to be as great a construction manager as he was an architect (and lover [probs, I mean it was Italy in the Renaissance]), managing his resources so expertly, he would make any Korean Starcraft player proud. In order to lift all the thousands of pounds of crap up the building each day, Ol’ Bruny had to invent hoisting machines and lewissons, machines that astounded people because basically their entire point was to be giant cranes made of wood and metal that could pick up hundred pound stones, and then lift them higher than ten feet. He also managed to convince Baccio d’Agnolo to come and do the decorations of the drum gallery, only for him to punk out after Michelangelo showed up one day, and told him it was dumb. Because Michelangelo just rolls like that. Brunelleschi made many other improvements to the cathedral, and would have made a lot more, expect he died in 1446, and even the most hardcore of architects can’t exactly order construction from the grave. I mean, Brunelleschi probably could’ve, but I guess he chilled out by then. The final touches were made to the cathedral when The Grand Duke Cosimo l de Medici ordered the inner dome to be painted with a representation of The Last Judgment. However, painting the entire dome on one’s own would have taken decades, at best, and Cosimo, like the millions of impatient teens who would one day follow him (who couldn’t just wait fucking five second for their stupid little text message to return from SPACE), did not feel like waiting.
|This ceiling was the stupid rainbow spinny wheel of it's day.|
So instead, he hired a whole bunch of artists to paint the thing, like Giorgio Vasari, and Federico Zuccari, which, while it did produce results, did not look all that perfect, mostly on account of the fact that the artists almost never talked to each other, so they all just used different styles to paint their portions. Still, as I’m sure Cosimo replied to anybody who tried to criticize this, where’s your big-ass one of a kind World Record holding ceiling? Huh? That’s right. So there you have it, the Santa Maria del Fiore, aka Italy’s sexiest building, and Florence’s main claim to fame (besides the fact that it’s f-ing Florence). I tried to include as much info as I could, but if you have any more questions, feel free to check some of my resource sites listed below, or, if you want a more person to person approach, e-mail me at Ducmm313@aol.com. Of course, I will not respond to you. In all actuality, I will not even acknowledge your hypothetical message’s existence. But it still might feel nice to get that off your chest, right?
|Don't mean to creep y'all out but I'm gonna need like, 10 minutes alone with this building.|