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Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King

Reviewed by ExperiencePlus! Customer Bill Giovanazzo.

She lay there, basking in the sun of a Tuscan August. Her beauty is beyond any of her kind. SheBrunelleschi's Dome by Ross King is the queen of the Renaissance, Firenze. She is the queen mother who gave birth and nurtured so many greats. It is only fitting, therefore, that this queen should wear a crown greater than all others. That she should wear The Dome, Brunelleschi’s Dome.

This is what I thought when our Venice to Pisa bike tour stopped for lunch in Fiesole, a wonderful little town above Florence. As we sat there in a small park eating our picnic lunch, I drank in this beautiful view of Florence. I sat there looking at the dome; finally I understood its significance. When we arrived in Florence later that day, I raced to the cathedral to climb to the top, to clamber between the dual domes, to stand upon the lantern at the summit, to fully experience the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and the dome that crowned this wonderful city.

Although I had been to Florence in the past and had seen Santa Maria del Fiore, it was not until I read Ross King’s book “Brunelleschi’s Dome” that I understood not only its significance, but its beauty. Brunelleschi was the epitome of genius in every sense of the word. Not only was his technical, artistic, and political acumen without rival, but he demonstrated the temperament and intolerance of a man that stood above all supposed peers. Ross King does an excellent job in conveying Brunelleschi’s life story as well as the stunning technical achievement that is the dome. King brings out in his book how Brunelleschi not only excelled as an architect, but as an engineer who developed the technology to support his grand achievement.

A bicycle tour through Italy is like drinking the hearty full bodied red wines served with the evening meals. It is far too easy to become light headed with the beauty and richness of country side or the warmth of the Italian people. One must remember, however, that with any wine there are highlights and accents that could easily be missed. So, read “Brunelleschi’s Dome” before you ride to Florence so that you can fully appreciate a subtly of this vintage that may otherwise elude you.