Florence Free Tour

Even though it has had many mishaps throughout the ages, Brunelleschi’s dome’s golden ball has never failed to put on a spectacular performance. Andrea di Verrocchio, a goldsmith and artist, created the initial design and oversaw its construction beginning in 1468.

Verrocchio had an idea for the lantern’s crown: a 2.5-meter-diameter copper spherical coated in gold. Verrocchio traveled all the way to Venice in order to locate copper that was in outstanding condition. As soon as he located the necessary material, he shipped it to Florence in two separate loads: two pieces in October 1469 and six pieces in August 1469.

On May 27, 1471, about 20 quintals of copper were raised onto the dome’s light, but the host was absent. That entire stack of metal up there would make an ideal lightning puller.

They were aware of this quickly. Lightning hit it on April 5, 1492, damaging a third of the lantern and forcing tiles in at least five separate places within the dome to fall to the ground. A substantial amount of damage measured in five thousand florins. Given how badly damaged the inner lamp was, the Opera del Duomo considered replacing it, but ultimately decided to repair the surviving one and replace the missing parts.

It was believed that the thunderbolt portended the impending death of the Magnificent, which was expected to happen in only three days.

About thirty lightning strikes have struck the ball and the skylight since that incident. While some lightning strikes only resulted in small damage, others produced catastrophic events.

One of the worst lightning strikes recorded occurs in 1600. Verrocchio’s ball was struck so forcefully on the evening of January 26–27, 1601, that it tumbled to the Piazza del Duomo pavement.