by Flavia Atzeni
Tourist guide

A tour of the Duomo

The reaction of the foreign tourists When I accompany tourists visiting Florence to see the Cathedral, they are always amazed by the marbles, the statues and the majesty of its architecture. Apart from Giotto's Belltower, they are always wildly enthusiastic about the facade, in spite of the fact that it is the most recent part of the building. It really is very beautiful, apart from being the fourth largest church in Europe. When they enter the Cathedral they usually seem to be left at a loss for words. After having been dazzled by the variety of coloured marbles outside, they are almost assaulted by the darkness and the harsh severity of the interior compared to the exterior. Some people even compare it with the simplicity of the Protestant churches.However every nationality reacts in its own way. The Israelians are obviously fascinated by anything connected with the Old Testament. They are extremely well informed and have great pride in their cultural roots. As a rule, they are particularly struck by the fifteenth century clock with its face painted by Paolo Uccello. This clock in fact covers a 24 hour period, starting at sunset, as in the Jewish culture. A visitor from India, after having noticed a winged devil with a dark skin, pointed it out to me with some displeasure, saying that a dark skin represents evil in our culture.

Tourists in P.zza Duomo (Foto FAN)
As a rule, the Japanese do not show their feelings and so it is rare to see them particularly impressed by something. They usually ask for the most incredible details. One day a Japanese tourist, to whom I had only just finished explaining the various measurements of the cupola (the internal and external diameter, the height, weight, etc), wanted even more and even asked me for the height of the steps up to Giotto's Belltower. They all seem to have a real mania about dates and measurements. However when I tell them all about the cupola they are often stirred, like everyone else. The French seem to be somewhat envious of the richness and variety of Italian monuments and tend to act as though they are our superiors; their main interest in the Cathedral seems to be finding out who paid for all the work. The Germans are very similar to the Japanese and we say that we can carry straight on from the former to the latter because they are usually so well informed. Nowadays a great many tourists come from eastern Europe and they are always full of interest and curiosity. As soon as the Americans see the Cathedral, they are always full of enthusiasm, which they express with plenty of "WOW"s, though at times they can make some really dreadful faux pas. One day an American tourist asked me whether the Cathedral was the Opera House, and another, when he saw Giotto's Belltower, asked me if it was the Tower of Pisa. See also: A birthday to conclude a millennium The cupola, masterpiece of Brunelleschi The machines used for the construction of the cupola That strange clock by Paolo Uccello Programme of the main cultural events

FAN-Florence ART News
Silvia Messeri & Sandro Pintus

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