Reading Week

13 Mar

Getting to travel for nine days throughout southern Europe was an experience I won’t forget. Not only did I learn more about other cultures and self-reliance, but I was also reminded of the historical significance that is found all over this continent. As a math major, I got hung up on the Duomo in Florence, Italy and the genius of Brunelleschi.

As beautiful as Florence was, the most outstanding structure I saw while there was the Duomo. The Duomo has an intriguing history. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1296, and it was not until 1418 that the realization of their lack of knowledge to create a dome large enough to cover the cathedral came to light. However even prior to 1418, the building of the Cathedral saw its fair share of challenges. In 1347 Florence was faced with the Asian black rat and the Black Death, which resulted in a substantial percentage of the Florentine population being eradicated over a one-year period of time. This dramatically slowed down the pace of construction of the Cathedral. In 1418, the “dome problem” was the next challenge. The opening to the Cathedral was 138 feet, and architects could not agree on what the best strategy would be to build such a large dome that would cover it. They had faith that one day God would bless them with more knowledgeable architects and a solution to their problem. The need for a dome was becoming so important that prizes were even being offered for outlined plans. Filippo Brunelleschi was the savior to this dilemma. Though he was raised as a goldsmith and practiced very hands on professions, he eventually studied mathematics feverishly and even “rediscovered the principles of linear perspective” (Constable). He rediscovered them because the Greeks and Romans had used them but they were lost in the Middle Ages. Once Brunelleschi’s plan was chosen, construction on the dome began in 1420.

For all of the man-made beauty in Italy, there were equally brilliant minds that were behind the structures, and sometimes those intellects do not get the acknowledgement they deserve because people are so enthralled with their creations. Though, this is very understandable and I’m sure the creators would take it as a form of flattery.

Constable, Barbara. “[Landscape Architecture Study Tour with Professor Jack Ahern.” [Landscape Architecture Study Tour with Professor Jack Ahern. Umass, n.d. Web. 2 June 2013. <;.

By: Alyssa Ashleen Danilow


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