We visited the Duomo today, after admiring the sheer magnificence of the dome itself, I felt the tears welling up (but not quite falling) at the site of Vasari's fresco on the ceiling. Not so amazing I guess that such an incredible location (to some the pinnacle of architectural, religious, indeed, human ingenuity) would be devoted to depicting the end of the earth and humanity as we know it (according to the Catholic Church). But a stunning piece nonetheless.
I loved the fact that although Christ is depicted in his human form, God is present solely and completely by the light that streams in through the very top, or lantern, of the dome. No old white bearded guys here or fingers reaching down to touch Adam, just the unspeakable light piercing the realm that lies just beyond the reach of the prophets dangling their legs from those perfect trompe l’oeil pillars. There is something very refreshing about the divine abiding in a realm beyond words, beyond depiction, beyond our capacity for understanding.
About an hour later, when we climbed the 300 or so steps to the balcony near the bottom of the fresco we were greeted with an up-close-and personal view of only the hell realms, as Christ hovered much further up on the fresco. Nothing like looking directly up and at the boil infested ass of Satan or the twisted smirk of one non-believer turning his head from the fist-clenched rock that is about to do him in. Ahh religion.