It was in the late 1980s and I was traveling with my mom. She was about the age I am now but she never considered climbing with me, so off I went by myself, up the interior stone steps, and clinging to the side as I walked the arcade of drum under Vasari’s frescoes. When I got to the top I continued to hug the inside of the lantern as I made one quick navigation around before starting my descent, getting out of there as fast as I dared.
During my next visit to Florence, again with my mom, I didn’t even consider such a climbing venture.
But then, a few years later, this time traveling alone, I arrived in Florence determined to conquer this acrophobia. I had done a little work on past lives and had the sense that when Brunelleschi was directing the building of the dome, I, a young messenger boy, had fallen off a scaffold and been killed. The part of being killed is up for question because the records show that only one person died while working on the construction, and that was a grown man. I’m not advocating for or against past life theory, but this exercise helped me overcome my fear of heights and sent me climbing to the top to lean against the outside railing and locate the many spots in Florence that I love so much. I’ve been doing it again and again.
In the afternoon I walked to the Bardini Gardens overlooking Florence to view from afar the pinnacle of my morning climb.