Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Original name

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Geographic Area

Florence, Italy

Reference Project

Documentation of the paraments of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence

Site description

Piazza San Giovanni and Piazza Duomo, represent the image of the city of Florence. These are the urban areas that surround the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and represent the geographical and historical center of the entire city. The square was included within the Roman walls since the foundation in 59 BC when Florence was founded as a military colony under the name of 'Florentia'. In the sixth century, the city under the domination of Byzantium, narrowed the perimeter to improve the defenses against the Goths, and as a result of this, the area was excluded from the new circle remaining behind the walls. Later, in 1078, following the foundation of the baptistery and the church of Santa Reparata, the area was included in the urban perimeter with the construction of the Matildea circle. Since then, there were numerous events as a result of which the public space became the subject of saturation and demolition, including the extension of Santa Reparata to the subsequent demolition to make room for the complex of Santa Maria del Fiore, the demolition of the bishop's palace and other neighboring buildings during the urban works for the arrangement of Florence Capital, to give an adequate size to the most representative public space of the city of Florence. The presence of the Duomo, the baptistery of San Giovanni, the loggia of Bigallo, the bishop's palace, and the same work of the cathedral of Florence, undoubtedly mark the strong religious component of the entire urban landscape.


Opera del Duomo in Florence

Sandro Parrinello
Stefano Bertocci

UNIPV, University of Pavia
UNIFI, University of Florence

Survey Activities

Laser Scanner

UAVs Photogrammetry

Terrestrial Photogrammetry


Post production Activities

2D Drawings

H-BIM model

  • Gallery

Documentation Methodology

In the research project one of the most important aspects concerns the study of the details. Since the beginning of the work the study has been made for each element in its overall complexity, from the genesis of the geometric details to the coding for the database. The drawings of the portals and mullioned windows have been realized thanks to an accurate survey with laser scanner, topographic and traditional measuring instrument. The methodology to define the geometric master of each decorative element has used photography as the main tool to understand and codify every detail.

The documentation for the external marble elements has led to the creation of a very complex archive from which a three-dimensional model has been created. Each element is identified in both the 3D model and the two-dimensional drawings to document the actual situation. The archiving involves the construction of a GIS structure: it is composed of a series of numerical codes in progression, necessary to identify the building up to the structure of the single element.

It was also carried out a study on the evolution of the facade over the centuries: the analysis started from the first unfinished facade of Arnolfo to arrive at the current winner of the nineteenth-century competition. In order to realize the hypothesis of reconstruction it has been considered necessary to create a virtual model of the facades of the square to understand the many changes. For the realization of the three-dimensional model of the various facades it has been necessary to find the documents related to these that become the basis from which to reconstruct the models, and in many cases has provided a wide margin of interpretation. The realization of an interactive system and a website, which allows the product of the architectural investigation to be made fully available, is part of a project aimed at spreading the history of the monumental work.


Parrinello, S., Bertocci, S. (201). Digital survey and documentation of the archeological and architectural sites . UNESCO, World Heritage List. (pp. 120-134). Firenze: Edifir.