If you like your sculpture al fresco, then this is the place to come. It all seems slightly surreal, particularly the ‘Loggia dei Lanzi’, which is a specially built raised area housing the famous Rape of the Sabine Women, Perseus and a clutch of Roman priestesses. Near the wall of the old council chamber is a copy of Michelangelo’s David next to Bandinelli’s Hercules. To top it all off is the Neptune fountain and the Grand Duke Cosimo further out into the square. I’m not sure why there’s such a concentration on stonework at this spot, but at least it saves on the shoe leather.
Centre of the city
Turn up early (7.30, 8, 8.30 services) and listen to mass or Lauds in the cathedral. The early light makes the stained glass glow, and when the bells start ringing the whole building seems to vibrate with thunder. A little time out before a day of busy tourism.
Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza del Duomo;
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