- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Design and architecture
Some magnificent sculpture and Ghiberti’s bronze doors are housed in this underrated museum.
This fascinating museum is one of my favourite and houses a superb collection of sculpture and architectural relics from the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Campanile. Often neglected by visitors, it offers insight into the construction of the extraordinary cathedral that dominates the city. The all-star works on the ground floor are housed in the glassed-in courtyard; the original ten bronze panels from the east doors of the Baptistery (the 'Gates of Paradise') by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
On the way upstairs you pass Michelango’s beautiful 'Pietà', which he carved for his own tomb when he was already an old man; the head of Nicodemus is thought to be a self-portrait. On the upper floor, the first room is dominated by Luca della Robbia and Donatello’s huge marble 'Cantorie' or choir balconies, masterpieces carved in the 1430s. I am particularly fond of Della Robbia’s work (on the left) with its scenes of dancing, laughing children. In the next room is Donatello’s ravaged, wooden St Mary Magdalen. A ramp leads to the section of the museum dedicated to artists’ models and drawings of the Duomo, passing between cases exhibiting apparatus used in its construction; Brunelleschi’s death mask is at the bottom.