Laetitia began the day by leading her group to the Battistero di San Giovanni, an octagonal building erected during a period from 1059 to 1128 A.D. There is a tradition that the structure was built atop an earlier Roman temple. However, archeological investigations indicate that there were earlier octagonal baptisteries on the site dating back to the fourth century, but no evidence of a Roman temple was found. The building features numerous art treasures including a magnificent mosaic ceiling and gilded bronze doors crafted by Lorenzo Ghiberti that Michelangelo called “The Gates of Paradise.” Dante Alighieri and many members of the Medici family were baptized there.
Next to the baptistery is Il Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Built between 1296 and 1436, it is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and dominates the Florence skyline. Its imposing hexagonal dome is a marvel of ingenious engineering accomplished by Brunelleschi. Next to the cathedral is a bell tower designed by Giotto. Laetitia made Brunelleschi the subject of the day’s limerick.
That paragon of genus Homo,
Who put the large dome on Il Duomo,
Solving a problem pesky,
Is well known from Capri to Lake Como.