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  Logic Path: Home Page >> The Secrets >> Alla conquista della Palla

Alla conquista della Palla

Climbing until reaching the inside of the ball of the Cathedral, going up towards the sky through a small door and touching the cross that dominates Florence, 116 meters high, is like making a dream come true. We are on the golden and windy top, suspended above the city, which looks like a lake of houses and hills. To arrive we had to climb 463 steps of the Dome in order to reach the terrace at the base of the lantern, being the highest point the public can enter. After opening an iron gate, we entered in one of the central pilasters, which hides Brunelleschi's secret. The great architect, in fact, upon presenting his model at the competition for the lantern, had covered with a piece of wood the entrance way to the pinnacle and the ball. Only in the end, after he was criticized by his rivals for his grave forgetfulness did "Filippo remove from the model a little piece of wood that was under the ball, revealing in a pilaster the ascent that could be compared to the form of an empty blow-pipe; and inside this so-called blow-pipe, he had put bronze stirrups that would serve as steps for climbing up to the ball." This description by Vasari corresponds exactly to a "well" of approximately twelve meters that we had to climb using the stirrups on the walls. The only reference point in the half-darkness and in the empty space was the light which arrived from a niche high above. Once reaching the base of the cusp, we grasped a rope and then a handle in the wall, jumped left and entered into a narrow and low-ceiling space. This space, with a few steps, led us to the inside of the "parchment", that is a large cone with a wooden framework reinforced in metal. From there, with two ladders one on top of the other we arrived at the first intermediate floor, directly under the "button" of bronze that marks the entrance to the ball and through which pass four massive iron stirrups that are inserted into the structure of the ball itself. The last difficulty was entering the darkness of the sphere, again by means of a ladder. The opening in the button is very small and it forced us to hoist ourselves up bending and crawling on our sides between one stirrup and another. Moving into the ball is very uncomfortable. The diameter is two meters and 20 centimeters, and the stirrups of the internal framework divide the curved room in four segments. In theory, twelve thin people could stay crouched within the space, that is, three in each segment. Above, there is a round hatch, as in a submarine, that can be opened. It is the way to the sky and the cross.


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