Precious mosaics in Florence are being restored. But instead of being isolated from visitors, they can now be accessed up close.
The 800-year-old mosaics that decorate Florence’s famous Baptistery are being repaired for the first time in over 100 years.
A new mushroom-shaped scaffold allows tourists to continue to visit the artwork – and see it from a unique perspective.
Visitors can climb the scaffolding to see the 13th-century mosaic up close – comprising more than 10 million tiles.
“(The construction work) will remain in place for a long time, and we didn’t want to sacrifice the visibility and enjoyment of this beautiful vault mosaic,” lead architect Samuele Caciagli told the AP.
“Rather, we had to turn this occasion into an opportunity to make it even more accessible and usable by the public.”
“Special routes (will) put visitors in direct contact with the vault’s mosaics. It is a unique opportunity that is unlikely to be repeated in the coming decades,” she added.
Why are the mosaics of the Baptistery in Florence famous?
The ancient mosaics line the lower part of the dome of the Baptistery of St. John and were covered over three generations during the 13th century.
The artwork spans an area of over 1,000 square meters and depicts scenes from the Bible in intricate detail.
In one scene, a grotesque giant Satan feeding on sinners is believed to have inspired Dante Alighieri’s depiction of Hell. Divine Comedy. The famous writer was also baptized in the building.
Why are the mosaics being restored?
The mosaics have suffered damage from earthquakes and weather conditions since their last restoration in 1907.
Now, restorers are working to repair the artwork with a unique structure that is intended to be as inconspicuous as possible.
The scaffolding was designed to take up as little space as possible at ground level – just 63 square meters – to allow visitors to move around easily.
At the top, the structure is ten times larger so that restorers can reach every part of the mosaic.
Restoration work aims to remain faithful to the original design.
“It is a meeting halfway between science, technology, experience and tradition”, said Roberto Nardi, who directs the restoration.
“What is extremely important to know is that for the execution of this work we are going to use traditional material, which will be the same materials that have been used for the realization of this mosaic.”
How to visit the mosaics of the Baptistery?
The scaffolding observation deck opens to visitors from February 24, 2023.
Tickets can be purchased on the Duomo visitor’s website. However, not all passes grant access to the tile, so make sure it’s specified.
The Baptistery opens every day from 8:30 am, with the last entry at 7:30 pm. Effective May 7, 2023, the Baptistery will close at 2:00 pm on the first Sunday of the month.