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Travellers in Tuscany



The Duomo

You pay the bill. It only hurts a little bit but you dont mind. As you get ready to leave you notice an older gentleman at the next table. He is absorbed in a book and does not see you and you say to yourself how striking he is. His shock of white hair instantly attracts your attention and that just brings your attention to other worthy characteristics. You see that he is tall and not slender. You hope he sees you and turns to you. You can see him only in profile and you wonder if he is handsome. He does not see you or at least gives the impression that he does not see you. You give the waiter the money and leave the caffe. You wonder if the gentleman is watching you leave. You turn your head back and give the Piazza della Signoria another look and then head down the street right next to the caffe.
You can see the length of the street and you can see that it opens into another square. There are no cars on the street and people stroll down the road. You notice the shops. These are much more chic than the ones you had seen earlier. How many shoe shops can a town support ,you wonder. You decide to just walk slowly by. Each shop soon becoming exactly the same as the previous one. There are few people out and you realize it is siesta time. The shops are closed and they wont be open for another hour. You decide to stay out until around 4PM and then head back to the hotel for a nap. You think you mustn't be too far from the Ariel but you will take a cab from where ever you are at four.

Your eyes are focused ahead of you. The street is narrow maybe 30 feet across and the buildings, although mostly only 5 stories high, seem to crowd in overhead casting the whole street into shadow.
As you get closer to the end you see that there are many people in the piazza ahead. Must be something important. And when you reach the end and come into the Piazza del Duomo and see that magnificent facade with ts tricolor marble. You are overwhelmed by the scale of the church, its huge dome rising out of the ground like a huge orange flower. You stop and look up and around and you cannot stop your eyes and you almost feel dizzy as you look up at the bell tower.

You move forward and you are in between the Baptistry and the steps leading into the cathedral. People crowd in front of the famous Baptistry doors. They lean forward as far as they can over the protective railing to get a closer look at the fine detail of each of the panels. The doors are bronze and large with individual bas relief square panels portraying stories from the Bible. They have been recently restored and they glow in the mid afternoon sun. You work your way through the crowd and now stand just a few feet away. You too are bending forward to make out the individual scenes. A lifetime of Catholicism has at least taught you your Bible stories. You recognze the majority of the depictions and think them out loud. The person next to you says Oh is that what that means. You are a little taken a back by the sudden intrusion into your thinking. Yes,you say, and the rest of the scenes are other Bible stories. Oh, they say and return their stare to the doors. You wonder what they are seeing or think they are seeing. You would tell them that these doors are known as the Gates of Paradise and that they were created by a guy named Ghiberti but that would be a waste of time. They don't want to know. They just want to look.
There is a queue waiting to get in the church. There is a steady stream of people leaving through the exit door in the middle and you decide to go in.



Text by Bryen Lebar
Picture by Sandro Santioli

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