I’m not a big fan of architecture and monuments in general and I’m not used to getting emotional about this kind of art, because I prefer to admire nature and landscapes instead, but I made an exception once and it was great since it was unexpected. It was 6 years ago and I had just arrived in Florence. After dinner, I went for a walk in the historic centre of the city and, coming out of one of those narrow streets, I came across an impressive building shining with white and dark green decorations: that was the famous Florence Cathedral!
Its proper name is Saint Mary of the Flower, with reference to the lily, which is the symbol of the town of Florence. It’s the third biggest church in the world, after Saint Peter in Rome and Saint Paul in London. The construction works started back in XIIIth century under the guidance of the famous architect Arnolfo di Cambio and they went on, with subsequent interruptions and variations, for about 600 years! Indeed, any self-respecting ancient cathedral can boast a story of change, revision of the initial project, rebuilding, demolition, and public criticism!
This church was left undone for a vey long time, because when Arnolfo Di Cambio died, the façade he had designed was not completed and it remained a plain brick wall.
Over the centuries, a lot of projects have been made to complete the cathedral, but none of them seemed adequate, so it just remained as it was. Since the surrounding area contains two other outstanding masterpieces, such as the Battistero and the Giotto Tower, this unfinished church started annoying the citizens so much that, after the middle of XIXth century, a volunteer association was born (The Association for the Cathedral facade) to raise funds to set–up a tender for architects and manufacturers willing to restore and complete the cathedral and make it worthy of the beautiful historic city centre.
In 1867 the contract was won by Emilio de Fabris, who choose to decorate the cathedral in neo-gothic style using colored marbles: white marble from Carrara, rose marble from Siena and green marble from Prato, as a tribute to the recently reunited Italy (March 17th, 1861).