Oh, the pleasures of Florence without the crowds! It was almost worth enduring the pandemic.
The familiar places in this open-air museum speak to me in a new language without the tourists and hordes. The buildings appear smaller without the crowds. I don’t know why that is true, but I notice it all the time.
But also, I see things I didn’t see before. For example, Verrochio’s golden ball was knocked off the top of the duomo in the 1600s. It was struck by lightening and fell to earth. I had read that the spot where it landed in the piazza has a marker, but I’ve never found it even though I have asked lots of Florentines if they know where it is.
And then yesterday, approaching il duomo from the east, I saw it! The white circle marks the spot.
“The golden ball of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral was built by Andrea del Verrocchio in 1468. Placed on the Cathedral on 27th of May in 1471, the ball immediately became a symbol for Florence citizens.
In particular on 8th of April in 1492 when, almost as premonition, of Lorenzo de Medici’s imminent death, lightning struck Verrocchio’s work.
On the night of 17th of January, 1601, when the golden ball, with its 2.30 meters in diameter and 18 tons in weight, was struck by lightning and fell down from the Cathedral. In order not to forget the danger and damage of lightning on the Cathedral and in the square, in the exact spot of the fall was marked by a slab of marble, still visible today.” http://www.manetti.com/en/2014/04/02/golden-ball-santa-maria-del-fiore/
And then, check out the house nearby where Donatello had his studio. The plaques and bust mark the spot.
Now, go back 3 pictures and look at the reflection of the beautiful duomo in the window above Donatello’s bust. Cool, right?