Giotto Campanile, Florence
Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 3, 2012
We climbed the steps (414!) to the top of Giotto’s campanile in the late afternoon, about an hour before it closed. The low sun turned the people below into a shadow show. Although you can’t see what they’re carrying or doing from the view of their heads, the shadows turn the scene into a panorama of action.
This shot of Brunelleschi’s dome on the Florence duomo was taken from one of the seven levels of the campanile, through the stone columns. As you can see, it is also possible to climb to the top of the dome, but the lines are much longer.
Although the bell tower is popularly known as Giotto di Bondone’s campanile, Andea Pisano and Francesco Talenti continued to work on it after Giotto’s death in 1337. The tower was completed in 1359. It is 84.7 (277.9 feet) high. The steps are a challenge — but what a view!
View looking up the east side of the tower. At the bottom of the photo are seven lozenges (attributed to Pisano or his school) with figures representing the seven liberal arts: astronomy, music, geomegry, grammar, rhetoric, logic, and arithmetic. On the next level, the four statues by Donatello, dated between 1408 and 1421, are prophets and patriarchs (“bearded” prophet, “beardless” prophet, Abraham, and Isaac). The three top levels were built by Francesco Talenti, Master of the Works from 1348 to 1359. Each level is larger than the one below, but because of the perspective they appear to be equal in size. At the top of the campanile, instead of the spire Giotto had originally designed, Talenti added a large terrace, so tourists owe him a debt of gratitude.
The baptistery is on the right, in this frame taken from the west side of the campanile.
This photo was taken from the north side of the campanile terrace, above the baptistery and the façade of the Duomo.
The campanile has seven bells, unfortunately defaced by graffiti.
Side view of the Duomo’s façade. The brick dome in the background is the Chapel of the Medicis, adjoining San Lorenzo church.
Is it a pope? A cardinal? A bishop? No, it’s Andrea Ortagna, Florence’s most prominent 14th century painter, sculptor, and architect, looking down on the city he helped to create. It’s nice to see artists get a little recognition, even if only the pigeons can appreciate the memorial. I assume that the figure is 19th century, since it is in the same neo-Gothic style as the front of the basilica.
View from the south side of the campanile. The tree-covered hills are on the far side of the Arno River. Between the square tower of the Bargello palace and the slender spire of the Associazione Monastica, you can see Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the favourite haunts of photographers and tourists. To the right of the spire, on the horizon, stands San Miniato al Monte, considered one of the finest Romanesque churches in Italy. San Miniato dates back to the 11th century.