The Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (Duomo) is surely one of the most important and famous monuments in Florence and Italy. The construction works began in 1294 on the project of Arnolfo di Cambio and it was structurally completed only in 1436 with the dome by Filippo Brunelleschi.
The building is characterised by its incredible and majestic red dome that has the astonishing diameter of 54 meters and a height of 92 meters.
Untill today, the biggest masonry dome ever built.
Many talented architects and engineers, including Lorenzo Ghiberti, were asked to find a solution to complete the dome of the cathedral.
Only Filippo Brunelleschi in 1420 managed to come up with an revolutionary construction technique and, after 16 years, to complete the project.
On the top of the dome, it was then placed a gilded ball with a 2,3 meters diameters and a cross.
Less known, is the story of the thunderstorm on the night of January 27 1601, when a lightning struck the gilded ball. The ball was detached from
the structure and rolled down the dome, falling in the middle of the square.
Luckily, due to the heavy rain, nobody was there and got injured!
To remember this incredible event, a circular marble plaque was placed in the square in the exact location where it was found. The marble plaque is not far from the corner of Proconsolo and Oriuolo streets.
The gilded ball was made by the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio in 1471. It is said that a young Leonardo da Vinci, who at that time was starting his career in this workshop, directly worked on it.
After one year from the accident, thanks to the work of master goldsmith Matteo Manetti (that offered to do the job for free), the ball was placed back in its the original position on the 21st of October 1602.
Over the centuries other lightnings have struck the gilded ball but luckily it never fell off again!