A few twists and turns above Porta San Niccol?, this affable piazza has a carnival atmosphere at sunset and is the most popular vantage point for views over the city. I'm talking about Piazza Michelangelo. But what's that church on the hill? Miniato was an early Christian martyr who, after his beheading in central Florence, walked up to this hillside spot with his severed head tucked under his arm. It?s easy to see why he chose this as his final resting place ? the views across Florence are spectacular. So is the church itself. Begun in the early 11th century, it?s a marvel of Tuscan Romanesque with its geometric marble facade, Byzantine-style mosaics, floors paved in beautiful patterns, and duplex-style choir raised above an even older and more atmospheric crypt. The church also has frescoes by Agnolo Gaddi, a terracotta sculpture by Luca della Robbia and a free-standing chapel by Michelozzo. Brunelleschi?s red-tiled dazzler of a dome represents two feats of genius. First there?s the fact that he was even able to build it at all. No one had tried such a feat since Roman times. Nearly 115m high and 42m wide, it remains, nearly six centuries after its completion in 1436, the largest masonry dome in the world. Then of course there?s the sheer loveliness of his creation, with its eight marble ribs, gold-appointed lantern and four million bricks that seemingly float above the city?s rooftops. More pointed than a perfect dome, it both reaches towards heavens yet remains firmly planted in the heart of the city?s worldly affairs. Dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral is the fruit of the dedicated work of the many artists who collaborated in it's building for various centuries. Begun in 1296 by Sienese architect Arnolfo di Cambio, the world?s fourth-largest cathedral took almost 150 years to complete. Behind the Gothic welter of its white, green and red marble facade (actually a 19th-century re-creation), the interior of the city?s cathedral is surprisingly Spartan, as most of its treasures have been moved to the adjacent Museo dell?Opera del Duomo. The 11th-century Baptistery is one of Florence?s oldest buildings ? and most extraordinary. The three doorways into the octangular, Romanesque structure tell the story of humanity?s redemption, including a revolutionary pair by sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti that, in the early 1400s, helped usher in a new age that would become known as the Renaissance. The womb-like interior dazzles with its opulent, Byzantine-style mosaics, including a gruesome image of Satan devouring sinners, which is said to have inspired Dante?s Inferno. Begun in 1334 by Giotto, Florence Cathedral?s soaring bell tower rises nearly as high as the cathedral?s dome. Its elaborate Gothic facade, including 16 life-size statues, represents a Who?s Who of 14th-century art. Feeling hardcore, right after climbing the dome's 463 steps we climbed the campanile's 414. Excited or psychotic? Anyways, we needed see up close exactly how Brunelleschi achieved his miracle. So we get in line... This set of steps sits between two separate domes, one inside the other. This doubling enabled one dome to hold up the other as construction continued across the vast gulf of open space. The two domes grow closer and closer as you climb. Look up for a close-up of Vasari?s Last Judgment that fills the dome?s interior. Its celestial hosts and hellish torments are depicted in a muscular style influenced by Michelangelo?s Sistine Chapel. Then look down and, besides a nice case of vertigo, you get a bird?s-eye view of the vast cathedral interior below, including the beguiling geometry of its marble pavements. Yet there?s more to this intensely absorbing place than priceless masterpieces. Towers and palaces evoke a thousand tales of its medieval past; designer boutiques and artisan workshops stud its streets; there?s a buzzing cafe and bar scene; and ? when the summer heat simply gets too stifling ? vine-laden hills and terrace restaurants are only a short drive away.
Back in 2009 hip-hop artist Christopher Rudder (Dirt!, Alleyne & Temus) travelled to Europe for the first time. Documenting and editing the experience ignited a flame once he returned back home. When he returned in 2010 he launched Journey Of An Artist, a mini-documentary divided in 10 parts brought much more depth, research and music produced specifically for for each episode. For 2011, with his partner photographer Gordana Grubor he takes Journey Of An Artist to another level bringing beautiful videography, creative editing & photography (The Rudder Company), extensive research, great music and interactions with the locals. As a host Christopher is witty, charming and ready to have fun.