Florence Italy's Invisible Cities


Florence

Documentary series. Using the latest 3D scanning technology, Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the romantic city of Florence.


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Transcript


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Italy. I just love this country.

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The people, the places,

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a history that reaches back over 2,500 years.

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From the birth of the Roman Empire,

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through the glories of the Middle Ages,

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to the flowering of the Renaissance,

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its achievements are just breathtaking.

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But behind its glorious facades,

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so much of that invention and creativity still remains invisible.

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Look at that.

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I'm exploring three of my favourite Italian cities

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to discover how their hidden treasures

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played their part in the making of Italy,

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and of Western civilisation.

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Using the latest 3-D scanning technology,

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we'll reveal the secrets of how these cities

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made Italy a powerhouse of the Western world.

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The last stop on our tour is Florence,

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the most romantic of Italian cities.

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Ah, it's just me. It's just me and them.

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I'll be discovering how this city on the banks of the River Arno

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burst out of the Dark Ages

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to become the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance,

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an age unparalleled for art,

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creativity, invention

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and innovation.

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Helping me discover how high art

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was nurtured by low intrigue

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is my expert guide,

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Dr Michael Scott.

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Oh, that was a kick to the face.

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We'll meet the powerful families behind it all, the Medici.

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Godfathers of the Renaissance,

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they ruled from hidden corridors of power.

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This is not somewhere the public can go.

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No, no, this is really secret.

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Our scanning team will build the world's most extensive 3-D model

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of the Medici's city

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to reveal how this world of intrigue

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was the foundation of Florence's Renaissance glory.

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This is Italy as you have never seen it before.

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Welcome to Italy's Invisible Cities.

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A nice place for a country drive.

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Ah! But what a country drive!

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I mean, this particular country.

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Look, here we are in Tuscany.

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You can just see why people, for generations,

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have loved coming to Tuscany.

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These glorious views -

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you've got vineyards, you've got olive groves,

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you've got the chimes of church bells from distant campanile.

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You've got ruins like they've just stepped out

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of a Renaissance old master painting.

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Once again, I'm hitching a lift with Dr Michael Scott.

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He's taking me to one of his favourite cities,

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home to thousands of the world's art treasures.

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We're going to discover what makes this city tick

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and what made it such an incredible engine

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of the Renaissance.

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Today, Florence is a magnet for tourists,

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drawn by its art and architecture...

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..not to mention some of Italy's finest ice cream.

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Who could resist?

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Ciao, come va?

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Xander, go for it. What would you like?

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Please may I have...

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'But none of the wonders we can enjoy in Florence today

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'would have been possible

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'were it not for just one family - the Medici.'

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Now, I have to warn you here,

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it was drilled into me when I was little, by my grandfather,

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not Me-deechy...MED-itchy.

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So, my little affectation,

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which comes from no authority of my own at all,

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is to say MED-itchy. We're just going to have to...

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Tom-ah-to, tom-ay-to.

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-There you are.

-Pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to.

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-MED-itchy!

-We're not going to fall out over that.

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No, we're not, we're not.

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And you can see them everywhere we look.

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Right there in the corner, up there, above the church there.

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The balls in the shield.

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I've been seeing these Medici balls.

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-You will see Medici balls.

-That's a Medici shield?

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The banking symbol.

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The six balls. Three balls for a pawnbroker, six balls for a Medici.

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-There we are.

-You can never have too many balls.

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The Medici first came to Florence at the beginning of the 13th century

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when Bad King John was signing the Magna Carta in England.

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The family started out as humble merchants,

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but went on to make millions.

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Known as "God's bankers",

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they fought a ruthless power battle for control of the city.

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They were also patrons to some of the greatest artists in the world -

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Leonardo da Vinci,

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Michelangelo,

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Botticelli.

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The first stirring of Florence's golden age began here.

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This great monster of a Duomo,

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dominating the landscape

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for miles and miles around

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and just imprinting the unmistakable identity of Florence

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on these parts.

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Every little street you walk down,

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every tiny little back alley...

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..gives some sort of view of this.

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I don't want to take away from its exquisiteness,

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but I always look at it

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and imagine it's waiting for the...

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most enormous half of lemon to be squeezed on top of it.

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BELLS TOLL

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The dome was completed in 1436,

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over 250 years before St Paul's in London.

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Extraordinary.

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But what's truly remarkable

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is that, to this day,

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no-one knows how its dome was built.

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Our scanning team is already at work,

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creating our 3-D model of the city.

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I hope their scanning technology

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will also help us reveal the dome's secrets.

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As they get to work,

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Michael is going to show me

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why the dome is still a mystery of engineering.

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I mean, my word, that is...

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That is truly magnificent.

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It's been called a vault of heaven.

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And it is extraordinary how impressively different

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the octagonal structure is.

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And just the plain hugeness of it.

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The dome spans 45 metres.

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It makes you look up to heaven

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but keeps your mind firmly on hell.

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I could spend all day down here

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and I really mean that,

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because I'm not brilliant with heights,

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and I know Michael has a little challenge for me.

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MICHAEL CHUCKLES

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-Keep a hand on the wall!

-Mm-hmm.

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-How are you feeling?

-Fine.

-Fine?

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I'm extremely relaxed about being very high up.

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-It's fine.

-Just don't look over the edge.

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-Yeah. And don't look...

-There's a sort of...

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There's a, sort of, swirling chasm of hell down there.

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I mean, that is...

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That's cruel, isn't it?

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Florence's cathedral,

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with its great dome,

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was dreamt up in the 13th century

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to show off the city's growing power...

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..but the knowledge of how to build an unsupported dome

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had been lost with the Romans.

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So, for 140 years, this balcony was as high as you could climb.

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Quite high enough for me, thanks.

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The end of the cathedral stood open to the elements.

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Finally, a committee of the great and the good -

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including the Medicis, of course -

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held a competition to find someone to solve the problem.

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The guy who came forward

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was a man called Filippo Brunelleschi,

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and he is the only one who comes up with a solution

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that meets all the criteria -

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no external buttresses,

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doesn't need massive scaffolding inside,

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can be the octagon,

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and can encompass this massive reach.

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But presumably a massive gamble

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-because, if he'd never built anything before...

-No-one! No-one!

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..they had only his word for it...

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-No-one had built anything like this before.

-Entirely.

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So, he presents his plans and they say... HE SCOFFS

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It's even more pie in the sky than that.

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The way he gained their trust is with...

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the humble egg.

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And he said, "OK...

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"you need to have faith in me that I can do things others can't.

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"Here's an egg,

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"ask the other competitors

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"to make this egg stand up

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"on a marble plate."

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They fail, obviously,

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as all good apocryphal stories go.

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Of course, I'm longing to know what happens.

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-So, what does he do?

-Well...

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-System of matchsticks?

-No!

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Can't have external buttressing on this egg.

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Of course, of course, of course. I'm so sorry.

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It needs to stand of its own accord.

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He simply, he takes the egg...

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That's it, is it?

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-I mean...

-And then all his competitors say,

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"Well, if we'd known that was what you were going to do,

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"WE could have done that.

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And he goes, "Exactly.

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"If you knew my plans, you, too, could do it."

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So, Brunelleschi, who'd probably never even put up a tent before,

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got to build his dome...

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..but, very unhelpfully, he kept his plans secret

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and destroyed the blueprints,

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and no-one could work out how he did it.

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Until now, perhaps.

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We're using our 21st-century technology

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to help solve this 15th-century mystery.

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Michael's off to see how the scanning team is getting on.

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It's quite amazing, really. We're scanning down on ground level here,

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but we're seeing right the way up into the dome

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and then we're going to creep around

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into all those hidden away intricate spaces.

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We're going to be able to position ourselves digitally

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somewhere where we just can't go physically.

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And Brunelleschi was doing all of this

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without any scan, any engineering,

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any technology, really, whatsoever.

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What do you think he would have made of scanning?

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I mean, I think if Brunelleschi had scanning, he would have used it.

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Whether he told people he used it,

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I'm not so sure about.

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But he was a massive fan of accuracy

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and of technology as well,

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and tying together creativity

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with the best technology that was available at that time

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to help him do amazing new things.

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While we wait for the scans

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that might just reveal the secrets of the dome,

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I want to find out why people like the Medici

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were determined to pursue such an impossible dream.

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To find out, Michael's taking me on a 50-mile drive

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across the Tuscan countryside.

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He's going to show me a renaissance version

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of keeping up with the Joneses,

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which drove the people of Florence to ever greater heights of ambition.

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We're off to Florence's neighbour...

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and rival.

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It's just so impressive, isn't it?

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I mean, obviously it's one of the most famous structures

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in our civilisation, but it's so beautiful

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and to see it up close is quite something.

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Well, it's become so representative of Italy, hasn't it, as a monument?

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But actually, when it was built

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in the 12th century and 13th centuries,

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this was Pisa's attempt

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to put the city on the map.

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This was Pisa saying,

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"We are one of the great maritime republics of Italy

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"and we are as good as, you know, Florence or any of the others."

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This was monument wars, if you like.

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You know, "My tower is bigger and better than yours."

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It's very beautiful.

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I mean, quite aside from its comical leaning.

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I mean, it really does lean. Look at it this close up.

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In 1173, a century before Florence hatched its own plans,

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Pisa set about building this spectacular new cathedral complex,

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with a very special bell tower.

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Some of our scanning team have got here before us.

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They've already started work

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with an odd looking bit of technological wizardry.

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Matt, and Luca, look at this.

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-How you doing?

-Hi.

-I've been longing to ask you about this new kit.

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-Luca, what have you got here? This is a...

-Backpack.

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A backpack with... I mean, it looks like a sort of Hoover,

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I should be plugging a nozzle in here

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and we could get this place tidy in no time.

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But we've got... What are all these lenses here?

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So, we've got five cameras,

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so we're taking panoramic images in every direction,

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and a couple of scanners.

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So, this is like one of our normal scanners,

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but it's actually scanning 16 positions at a time.

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Spinning round, spinning round, taking a section of the space.

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Then we have another scanner on the top.

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So two scanners, five cameras.

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And this, presumably, is a much more efficient way of doing it.

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-It is, yeah, yes.

-Luca can do it at walking pace.

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Yeah.

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-Really slow.

-Andante.

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Plenty of time to, kind of, take in the surroundings.

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-Coffee in one hand.

-Exactly...

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Coffee in one hand, guidebook in the other.

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-Thank you.

-Very well done. Carry on.

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-See you.

-Off you go, Luca.

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I'm way out of my depth here.

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And now Michael's throwing me even more off-kilter.

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So, prepare yourself...

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I'm already... Look at it.

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It's like stepping onto a pitching ship, isn't it?

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Isn't it amazing?

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Very disorientating.

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And going in a circle at the same time as leaning,

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AND the same time as ascending,

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it's kind of an assault on the senses.

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It's very unsettling, actually, isn't it?

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah... Absolutely.

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It's not entirely pleasant.

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MICHAEL LAUGHS

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The tower is eight storeys high,

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with its famous lean just under four degrees off-centre.

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Our 3-D scans reveal a skeleton image of the tower.

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It can help us see how the medieval builders tried to correct the lean.

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Things started to go wrong

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almost from the word go.

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After just three storeys had been completed,

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it became clear the tower was leaning.

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Soft clay and sandy soil

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had destabilised the foundations.

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Work stopped for almost 100 years,

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but then they tried a novel solution.

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They made storeys four, five, six and seven

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shorter on one side

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to try and straighten it up.

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It didn't help, of course.

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Finally completed in 1372,

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almost 200 years after they'd started building.

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Look at that, they must have been so thrilled

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to have FINALLY put the lid on this!

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The Pisans never gave up trying.

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In one last attempt,

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the top itself was added at a jaunty angle to the rest.

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I love that they persevered with it.

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And at the time when you want to appear all-powerful and all-knowing,

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to acknowledge your fallibility and celebrate it...

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I'm sure they didn't see it that way,

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but you can't help but look at it

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and feel just a warmth in your heart.

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A warmth for human endeavour.

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-I mean, this is the...

-BELLS TOLL LOUDLY

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'I'm now feeling that warmth in my ears.

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'Caught out enthusing about a bell tower,

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'we'd lost all track of time.'

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Our scans of Pisa are finished.

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This is the most detailed 3-D model, of the cathedral ever made.

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I can really see how, 650 years ago,

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it must have impressed -

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even with its leaning bell tower.

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But at least the Pisans

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finished their cathedral.

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It must have irritated the Medici, no end,

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that, by the time the Pisa tower was completed,

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Florence's cathedral had been domeless for 76 years.

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This would never do.

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By now, the Medici were one of the wealthiest families in Europe -

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Florence, the banking capital of Italy...

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..and they wanted a cathedral to match.

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I'm excited to be back in Florence,

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to find out how Brunelleschi pulled it off.

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Our 3-D scans of the dome are in.

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For the first time,

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I can begin to see how Brunelleschi did it,

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and what a spectacular structure it is.

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The scans reveal Brunelleschi's first trick -

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the Dome isn't just one dome, but two.

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An outer shell and an inner shell.

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Xander, hello.

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How do you do?

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'I'm hoping historian and writer Ross King can tell me more.'

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But first, there's another climb.

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A mere 463 steps this time.

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Well, here we are,

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between the two domes,

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with the inner dome on our right,

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the thick inner dome, about four-feet thick at this point,

0:18:150:18:18

arching up, as you can see.

0:18:180:18:20

And we have this magnificent little space to stand between

0:18:200:18:24

and peer up and, in some places, peer down.

0:18:240:18:27

It's quite exhilarating, isn't it? Just such power.

0:18:270:18:29

As we move between the two shells,

0:18:310:18:34

but look at the pattern of brickwork here.

0:18:340:18:37

It's extraordinary, isn't it?

0:18:370:18:38

Yes, it's...

0:18:380:18:40

There are four million bricks used in the dome

0:18:400:18:43

and, because brickmakers had never made a brick that shape before,

0:18:430:18:46

Brunelleschi had to cut...

0:18:460:18:48

Apparently, he used root vegetables.

0:18:480:18:50

He would whittle them to try to show them...

0:18:500:18:52

-ALEXANDER LAUGHS

-..the sort of shape that he needed.

0:18:520:18:55

Cos the angle... The bricks going down at that angle...

0:18:550:18:57

-That's right.

-..and it's cut on this plane here, on this plane...

0:18:570:19:00

There are three different slightly...

0:19:000:19:02

Boom! Your brain slightly explodes.

0:19:020:19:04

But that brick could only go there.

0:19:040:19:06

-That's right.

-It couldn't go there, it couldn't go there,

0:19:060:19:08

it couldn't go there, it couldn't go... That is the brick.

0:19:080:19:10

Absolutely.

0:19:100:19:12

My respect for Brunelleschi is growing with every brick.

0:19:120:19:17

Even the floor we're walking on had a structural role.

0:19:170:19:20

It's a sandstone ring

0:19:200:19:22

that wraps around the dome,

0:19:220:19:24

like the hoops on a barrel.

0:19:240:19:25

So, is it all beginning to make sense?

0:19:260:19:29

Well, do you know, Ross...?

0:19:290:19:31

If I'm discovering anything,

0:19:310:19:33

it's that my tiny brain

0:19:330:19:35

is just incapable of...

0:19:350:19:37

..holding all of that.

0:19:380:19:40

-I mean, it is...

-Well, I think you're not alone.

0:19:400:19:43

I mean, it's... It's an amazing feat.

0:19:430:19:45

I mean, it's multiple feats carried out by,

0:19:450:19:48

I think, one of history's great geniuses

0:19:480:19:50

who did not want us to know how he did it.

0:19:500:19:53

But what Brunelleschi didn't count on was our scanners.

0:19:550:19:58

'Now it's time to get a proper look at them,

0:20:000:20:03

'the closest we'll ever get

0:20:030:20:04

'to the blueprints Brunelleschi took such trouble to destroy.'

0:20:040:20:08

Whoa! And up, we go. Flying up.

0:20:090:20:12

This is what we could only imagine when we were there.

0:20:120:20:15

HE EXHALES AND LAUGHS

0:20:150:20:16

For me, this is the moment, though, when you just pop in here...

0:20:180:20:21

..to suddenly have it laid clear to me that

0:20:220:20:24

there's not much between us and

0:20:240:20:26

this interior fresco, and that cavernous fall.

0:20:260:20:29

Yeah, yeah.

0:20:290:20:30

Look at that.

0:20:320:20:34

Look at that.

0:20:340:20:35

It's solid and it's there, as you say,

0:20:350:20:38

that all the business is being done.

0:20:380:20:39

You can see the angles of the bricks there.

0:20:390:20:41

What I'm longing to see

0:20:430:20:44

were the rings...

0:20:440:20:47

that Ross pointed out,

0:20:470:20:48

the sandstone bound rings.

0:20:480:20:52

That cross-section, there.

0:20:520:20:53

You can see the stone rings, though, can't you?

0:20:530:20:55

Yeah, so...

0:20:550:20:57

from the bottom...

0:20:570:20:58

Number one, two,

0:20:580:21:00

three and four.

0:21:000:21:01

Right the way up.

0:21:010:21:03

This was Florence bursting out.

0:21:030:21:07

I mean, I look at St Paul's now and just think, "Really?

0:21:070:21:11

"Really, Christopher? Really?"

0:21:110:21:13

"Come on.

0:21:130:21:15

"Better next time, please."

0:21:150:21:16

"Come on."

0:21:160:21:18

To see it through this technology

0:21:180:21:21

is just to see...

0:21:210:21:23

..everything that we couldn't quite see on the day.

0:21:230:21:26

To fly up between the skins,

0:21:260:21:28

just to enjoy the sheer power and the...

0:21:280:21:31

..mad magic trick

0:21:330:21:34

that Brunelleschi's pulled off.

0:21:340:21:36

In 1436, 140 years after it was first dreamt up,

0:21:450:21:50

Florence's dome was finally completed.

0:21:500:21:53

It's bigger than St Peter's in Rome, and St Paul's in London.

0:21:560:21:59

And to this day, it's the biggest brick dome in the world.

0:22:010:22:06

Brunelleschi's dome kick-started a surge of creativity and innovation.

0:22:140:22:18

The Medici's ambition and power was growing.

0:22:200:22:23

Now they had plans for the rest of the city.

0:22:230:22:26

Our emerging 3-D model of Florence

0:22:290:22:31

will reveal just how much of it

0:22:310:22:33

became the Medici's backyard.

0:22:330:22:35

So this, if you can believe it,

0:22:370:22:39

is the Medici's private home.

0:22:390:22:41

Wow.

0:22:410:22:42

I mean, look at it.

0:22:430:22:45

It's just comical, isn't it,

0:22:450:22:47

how no attempt is made to uniformity in these huge great...?

0:22:470:22:52

They look like they're sort of built out of the cliff.

0:22:520:22:54

-I mean, it's a fortress.

-It is, completely.

0:22:540:22:57

-I've seen a Victorian prisons that look less impregnable.

-Yeah.

0:22:570:23:00

I mean, look at it. It must be a rock climber's dream.

0:23:000:23:03

People must long to climb, hand over hand,

0:23:030:23:06

up to the stone cornice up there.

0:23:060:23:09

This was the Medici's castle

0:23:110:23:13

but, unlike Europe's medieval kings,

0:23:130:23:16

their wealth and power came without the security of royal birth,

0:23:160:23:20

so they kept themselves hidden away from the mob outside.

0:23:200:23:23

Well, out of strong

0:23:250:23:27

shall come forth sweetness.

0:23:270:23:29

Look at this, we've come from the fortress outside to this.

0:23:290:23:32

Various different iterations of the Medici coat of arms.

0:23:320:23:37

It's an interestingly...

0:23:370:23:38

balled coat of arms that, isn't it?

0:23:380:23:40

They're like sort of the balls of a simnel cake, aren't they?

0:23:400:23:43

Just...duh, duh, duh!

0:23:430:23:44

It pulls no punches. Cosimo, the guy who built this place,

0:23:440:23:47

is the first to be born into real super wealth of the Medici family,

0:23:470:23:50

and the first to really start using it for civic patronage and power.

0:23:500:23:54

And the Medicis are riding the waves

0:23:540:23:58

of Florentine power brilliantly at this point.

0:23:580:24:01

Are they council members? Are they...?

0:24:010:24:03

They're not in any official position of power. They don't need to be.

0:24:030:24:06

Everyone that IS is in their pocket...

0:24:060:24:09

-Oh, that's clever.

-..or owes them money, or is banking with them,

0:24:090:24:12

or is a great personal friend.

0:24:120:24:13

This great fortress

0:24:150:24:16

was the Medici HQ.

0:24:160:24:18

It helped conceal their covert operations and plots,

0:24:190:24:23

and reveals a lot about how they saw their own power and status

0:24:230:24:26

as they rose to domination.

0:24:260:24:28

HE GASPS

0:24:430:24:44

That's extraordinary.

0:24:440:24:45

Welcome to the Medici's private chapel.

0:24:470:24:49

Technically, this is a Bible story,

0:24:510:24:53

-this is the procession of the Magi...

-Right.

-..in Bethlehem.

0:24:530:24:57

Everything is, effectively, the Medici family.

0:24:590:25:02

It starts with Lorenzo,

0:25:020:25:03

the chap on the white horse.

0:25:030:25:05

But my favourite by far is the chap next to him, on the donkey.

0:25:050:25:10

That's Cosimo.

0:25:100:25:12

The kind of, the humble donkey but then, you know,

0:25:120:25:14

who else do we know entered town on a humble donkey?

0:25:140:25:17

Well, indeed.

0:25:170:25:18

-Looks a bit shifty, doesn't he?

-That eye...

0:25:180:25:20

"I've got my eye on you," kind of, in a beautiful, Medici type of way.

0:25:200:25:24

-You know, "I'm ready for anything that can happen."

-Yes.

0:25:240:25:27

There's the Medici...

0:25:270:25:29

-Absolutely. They're everywhere.

-The balls.

0:25:290:25:31

Every horse's harness, whether it's a Magi

0:25:310:25:33

or whether it's one of the horses,

0:25:330:25:35

every part of this picture

0:25:350:25:36

has got something that screams "Medici" at you.

0:25:360:25:40

These beautiful frescoes are by the Florentine artist Gozzoli.

0:25:420:25:46

It's pretty audacious,

0:25:480:25:49

placing yourself in a biblical setting

0:25:490:25:51

and even aligning yourself with the son of God by riding on a donkey.

0:25:510:25:55

But there's a twist to this Medici vanity.

0:25:570:25:59

Here we have the journey to Bethlehem.

0:26:010:26:04

Medicis have put themselves

0:26:040:26:07

on the road, you know,

0:26:070:26:08

they're putting the hard yards in here.

0:26:080:26:10

They're pilgrims, they're still some way from Bethlehem.

0:26:100:26:14

The message is unmistakable, really,

0:26:140:26:16

"You have to keep striving,

0:26:160:26:18

"you haven't arrived at the hallowed city yet."

0:26:180:26:21

Our scans show how this gem of a room

0:26:250:26:27

is buried deep within the walls of the Palazzo.

0:26:270:26:30

It's absolutely private and secure.

0:26:300:26:33

The Medicis knew that to be public

0:26:340:26:36

was to be a target

0:26:360:26:38

and they had good reason to crave security.

0:26:380:26:40

Soon after this was built

0:26:450:26:47

and they were living here,

0:26:470:26:48

towards the end of the 15th century,

0:26:480:26:50

two of the young sons were attacked

0:26:500:26:53

as they went to Mass in the Duomo.

0:26:530:26:56

One of them was stabbed 19 times, dead,

0:26:560:26:58

the other managed to flee and escape back here

0:26:580:27:01

to the safety of these walls.

0:27:010:27:02

So, why the...? What was the beef?

0:27:020:27:05

Well, it was just because the Medici were,

0:27:050:27:07

as a powerful family, holding the strings of power.

0:27:070:27:09

Obviously, they had enemies, the other powerful families in Florence.

0:27:090:27:12

So, in this case, it was a family called the Pazzi family.

0:27:120:27:16

-Just another family vying for...

-Another rival.

0:27:160:27:18

And so the Medici begin their plan of attack for revenge,

0:27:180:27:22

which the Medicis took very seriously.

0:27:220:27:24

I was going to say, you didn't want to upset the Medicis.

0:27:240:27:26

As a result of that conspiracy, 80 people...

0:27:260:27:29

were murdered, were sentenced to death effectively,

0:27:290:27:32

as a result of their attempt on the Medici's life.

0:27:320:27:35

And in Florence, they didn't just bring down the guillotine.

0:27:350:27:39

Instead, they literally chucked them out the top windows,

0:27:390:27:42

with nooses round their necks,

0:27:420:27:44

and let them dangle.

0:27:440:27:46

So, when you saw the town hall of Florence,

0:27:460:27:48

you saw the enemies of Florence, the enemies of the Medici,

0:27:480:27:52

decaying and swaying in the wind.

0:27:520:27:54

Decaying bodies and murder plots.

0:27:580:28:01

This is the dark underbelly

0:28:010:28:03

beneath the beauty of Renaissance Florence.

0:28:030:28:06

It's that secret side of the city

0:28:080:28:10

that our scanners are seeking to map.

0:28:100:28:12

I want to know if any of the rival dynasties,

0:28:160:28:18

like the Pazzi family,

0:28:180:28:20

survived the Medici's vengeance.

0:28:200:28:22

While I go on the hunt,

0:28:230:28:24

Michael's heading for the square of the Holy Cross Church, Santa Croce.

0:28:240:28:28

But he's not going to Mass.

0:28:300:28:32

ROUDY CHANTING

0:28:320:28:33

He's going to Calcio Storico.

0:28:330:28:36

That's medieval football to you and me.

0:28:360:28:38

ROUDY CHANTING

0:28:380:28:40

Years ago, when I lived in Florence,

0:28:400:28:42

I came to this historic Florentine event.

0:28:420:28:46

Take football, add rugby and boxing,

0:28:460:28:48

add some ultimate wrestling,

0:28:480:28:50

put 54 people in a sandpit,

0:28:500:28:53

and that's basically Calcio Storico.

0:28:530:28:55

WHISTLE BLOWS

0:28:550:28:58

It translates as "football"

0:28:580:28:59

but it's about as close to football as, frankly, nuclear war.

0:28:590:29:02

This is the semifinal

0:29:040:29:06

between the blues, Santa Croce,

0:29:060:29:08

and the reds, Santa Maria Novella -

0:29:080:29:10

two districts of the city.

0:29:100:29:12

And as you can see, they take the rivalry very seriously.

0:29:120:29:17

Oh, here we go.

0:29:170:29:18

The blues are on!

0:29:180:29:20

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go.

0:29:200:29:22

Oh! Oh!

0:29:250:29:28

Oh, that was a kick to the face.

0:29:280:29:30

That should definitely be an expulsion.

0:29:300:29:34

It can be difficult to square this reality

0:29:340:29:38

with the beauty we think of when we think, "Renaissance Florence" -

0:29:380:29:41

the sculptures, the architecture,

0:29:410:29:42

the art...

0:29:420:29:44

but, actually, the two are linked.

0:29:440:29:46

It's out of the fury and the energy that is created,

0:29:460:29:50

and the passion with which Florentines live their lives,

0:29:500:29:54

that the Renaissance art, architecture

0:29:540:29:56

was fuelled to reach new heights of achievement.

0:29:560:29:58

Calcia azzurra!

0:30:020:30:05

THEY CHANT

0:30:050:30:08

There was clearly as much treachery on the football pitches of Florence

0:30:100:30:13

as there was behind the walls of the palazzos,

0:30:130:30:16

but I've managed to get south of the river unmolested.

0:30:160:30:19

The Medici line died out in the 18th century,

0:30:210:30:24

but some of their archrivals survived.

0:30:240:30:27

I'm fortunate enough to have been asked by the Frescobaldis

0:30:290:30:32

to go and visit them in their Palazzo Frescobaldi,

0:30:320:30:35

where they have been living for who knows how long.

0:30:350:30:38

Today, the family's best known for its wine business,

0:30:430:30:47

but I'm told there's a secret place in their palazzo

0:30:470:30:50

that's linked to their turbulent past.

0:30:500:30:53

BELL RINGS

0:30:530:30:55

-Hi.

-Hello.

-Alexander, how are you?

0:30:590:31:02

I'm very well. How do you do?

0:31:020:31:04

-Very nice to meet you.

-Very well. Thank you.

0:31:040:31:06

-Welcome.

-Thank you.

0:31:060:31:08

-I show you something special.

-Wonderful.

0:31:080:31:09

-So, this is all of Frescobaldi palazzo here?

-Yep.

0:31:110:31:14

Three palazzos and then completely redone

0:31:140:31:19

and rebuilt in the 17th century by Matteo Frescobaldi.

0:31:190:31:23

And then they made this secret passage to enter.

0:31:250:31:28

Oh, I see. So, here you are.

0:31:300:31:32

-Here we are.

-Sit at your private altar, here, and hear Mass.

0:31:320:31:37

You're part of the church

0:31:370:31:39

but hidden away.

0:31:390:31:40

We're part of the church and...

0:31:400:31:42

really, it's part of our house.

0:31:420:31:46

-You can say, "Amen."

-Amen.

0:31:460:31:48

-And still be part of the service.

-Amen, yeah.

0:31:480:31:51

But what was the purpose of this secret passage?

0:31:510:31:54

Why was it so important not to be seen?

0:31:540:31:56

Not to be seen, because they were, you know...

0:31:560:31:58

At that time,

0:31:580:32:00

they want to stay very close. Not too far...

0:32:000:32:02

Safe.

0:32:020:32:03

-Safe, very safe.

-I see.

0:32:030:32:05

Because many families, many important families

0:32:050:32:08

from the opposite side of the River Arno,

0:32:080:32:11

they fight.

0:32:110:32:12

You know, Frescobaldi and Medici fight.

0:32:120:32:15

Yeah, I bet.

0:32:150:32:16

It's because there was a Medici killed at Mass,

0:32:160:32:20

-wasn't there?

-Mm-hmm.

0:32:200:32:22

Congiura dei Pazzi.

0:32:220:32:23

I don't know if a Frescobaldi was involved with this.

0:32:230:32:26

-I don't think so.

-Oh, I doubt it very much.

0:32:260:32:28

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:32:280:32:30

Sometimes I come here, also, with my glass of wine...

0:32:300:32:32

Oh, I bet you do.

0:32:320:32:33

..because I think it's a lot better to stay here.

0:32:330:32:36

In the fresh, you know, and to have this mystic atmosphere.

0:32:360:32:40

Quite right. Turn a glass of wine into a sacrament.

0:32:400:32:43

Yeah.

0:32:430:32:45

Yeah, why not?

0:32:450:32:46

Just like the Palazzo Medici,

0:32:490:32:51

these walls conceal far more than meets the eye.

0:32:510:32:54

The Frescobaldi were equally paranoid about their safety.

0:32:540:32:58

Today, four branches of the family still live here.

0:33:010:33:04

The Marchesa Rosaria is introducing me to her husband and sister-in-law.

0:33:050:33:10

And, of course, it would be rude to leave

0:33:100:33:12

without sampling some of the family wine.

0:33:120:33:14

The Frescobaldis and these various other families,

0:33:160:33:19

from time to time,

0:33:190:33:20

have been tremendous rivals.

0:33:200:33:22

How are relations nowadays

0:33:230:33:26

with your leading Florentine families?

0:33:260:33:28

Definitely very good.

0:33:280:33:30

-Very much better?

-Very much.

0:33:300:33:32

Maybe there have been, yes, some period where we were against,

0:33:320:33:38

but normally we have been also very friendly.

0:33:380:33:44

Definitely, I suppose,

0:33:440:33:46

in the last two or three centuries.

0:33:460:33:48

Definitely, very friendly.

0:33:480:33:51

Please tell me that you now go to Mass through the normal door.

0:33:510:33:54

You don't feel you have to go through the secret chapel.

0:33:540:33:57

No, no.

0:33:570:33:59

We go... I go to Mass

0:33:590:34:01

through the normal door.

0:34:010:34:03

Quite right. That's very reassuring.

0:34:030:34:05

I, too, am going to risk a visit to the church through the main door

0:34:060:34:10

in broad daylight.

0:34:100:34:11

I would never have guessed that these plain walls

0:34:150:34:18

concealed one of the finest examples

0:34:180:34:20

of Renaissance architecture.

0:34:200:34:22

And so here, right next to the Frescobaldi Palazzo

0:34:250:34:29

is the church of Santo Spirito,

0:34:290:34:31

designed by our old friend, Brunelleschi.

0:34:310:34:34

You can bet that,

0:34:340:34:35

as news of this building passed across the Medici desk,

0:34:350:34:40

it would have been greeted by a heavy sigh.

0:34:400:34:42

"Come on, lads, we need to do something bigger, better."

0:34:430:34:47

And so, when the Medici needed a new mausoleum,

0:34:510:34:54

they turned to the genius Michelangelo.

0:34:540:34:57

Creator of Renaissance masterpieces,

0:34:570:34:59

like the Sistine Chapel in Rome

0:34:590:35:01

and the sculpture of David.

0:35:010:35:03

Cosimo Medici had died in 1464,

0:35:070:35:10

and it was his grandson, Lorenzo,

0:35:100:35:12

who first spotted Michelangelo's talent.

0:35:120:35:15

He took in the 14-year-old artist

0:35:180:35:20

to be educated with his own sons

0:35:200:35:23

in the Palazzo Medici.

0:35:230:35:24

Michelangelo became one of the family.

0:35:270:35:30

Who better, then, to create a lasting monument to the dynasty,

0:35:320:35:36

just a few hundred yards from their fortress home,

0:35:360:35:39

than their old family friend?

0:35:390:35:42

So, this is the Medici's local church.

0:35:450:35:49

It was a local parish church pre-existing,

0:35:490:35:52

but what we're really interested in is actually that dome there,

0:35:520:35:56

because THAT is the work of Michelangelo.

0:35:560:35:58

Oh, for heaven's sake.

0:35:580:36:00

I guess in exchange for the digs that they've been providing.

0:36:000:36:04

All the milk that had his name on it in the fridge.

0:36:040:36:07

Hi.

0:36:070:36:08

-Monica, ciao.

-How are you?

0:36:080:36:10

-Ciao.

-Ciao.

0:36:100:36:11

-Alexander.

-Ciao.

-How do you do?

-Fine, thank you.

0:36:110:36:15

-Welcome to Michelangelo's!

-Please, look.

0:36:150:36:17

Monica Bietti is the director of Michelangelo's Chapel

0:36:170:36:21

at San Lorenzo.

0:36:210:36:22

Her enthusiasm for the place is infectious.

0:36:220:36:25

It might be smaller than the Duomo,

0:36:270:36:29

but it's perfectly formed.

0:36:290:36:31

This is all by Michelangelo,

0:36:310:36:34

the drawing of the architecture

0:36:340:36:37

and also the sculpture that you can see.

0:36:370:36:40

Both the Medicis and Michelangelo

0:36:420:36:44

have something that lasts for eternity.

0:36:440:36:47

The art is at the top of the life.

0:36:480:36:52

And they are to remain.

0:36:520:36:54

The life finish, but the art remain.

0:36:540:36:57

Unlike the marble sculptures,

0:36:590:37:01

the relationship between the Medici and Michelangelo

0:37:010:37:04

didn't stand the test of time.

0:37:040:37:07

In 1527, the people of Florence rose up against the Medici

0:37:080:37:13

and they were forced into exile.

0:37:130:37:15

Michelangelo refused to go with them.

0:37:160:37:19

The great artist stayed in Florence and joined the rebels.

0:37:190:37:23

Right.

0:37:240:37:25

So Michelangelo, who'd grown up with the Medici...

0:37:250:37:29

-Yeah.

-..then betrays them.

0:37:290:37:31

-The Medici eventually come back.

-Of course.

0:37:310:37:34

They come back and they will be the rulers of Florence

0:37:340:37:37

in the 16th century, so Michelangelo picked the wrong side.

0:37:370:37:41

And so Michelangelo was really afraid and go away,

0:37:410:37:46

and stayed in a secret place.

0:37:460:37:49

Within Florence?

0:37:490:37:50

Here in Florence,

0:37:500:37:52

but here - very, very near here.

0:37:520:37:55

We can see the secret room.

0:37:550:37:57

I think we need to see this, don't you?

0:37:570:37:59

-I need to see this.

-Monica, lead the way!

0:37:590:38:02

I'd had no idea that Michelangelo had turned his back on the Medici.

0:38:040:38:08

And after just three years in exile,

0:38:100:38:13

they were suddenly back.

0:38:130:38:15

I can see why Michelangelo needed to disappear.

0:38:150:38:18

-Was he in here?

-Yes.

0:38:200:38:22

You must open this door.

0:38:220:38:24

Oh, I see.

0:38:240:38:25

This is a real trap door, here.

0:38:250:38:27

Oh! DOOR CREAKS

0:38:270:38:29

Good.

0:38:290:38:31

This is not somewhere the public can go.

0:38:310:38:33

No, no. This is really secret.

0:38:330:38:36

It remain open.

0:38:360:38:38

We won't get trapped.

0:38:380:38:39

-Yes.

-But we have to be careful, Xander.

0:38:390:38:42

Yes, pay attention.

0:38:420:38:43

Michelangelo wrote that he hid for six weeks in a tiny cell,

0:38:460:38:50

entombed like the dead Medici above.

0:38:500:38:53

Though hiding from a live one.

0:38:530:38:55

"To forget my fears,

0:38:550:38:57

"I fill the walls with drawings".

0:38:570:39:00

Oh, I see.

0:39:000:39:01

'For over four centuries, nobody was able to find this tiny cell.

0:39:010:39:05

'Then, during some building work in 1975,

0:39:060:39:10

'this little room with discovered.'

0:39:100:39:14

-It's incredible.

-Xander, look at these.

0:39:150:39:17

-Are these charcoal sketches? Are they charcoal?

-Yes.

0:39:170:39:19

The authenticity of the drawings has been debated,

0:39:190:39:23

but many, including Monica,

0:39:230:39:25

are convinced they're the work of Michelangelo.

0:39:250:39:27

-Here's a man terrified for his life.

-Yes.

0:39:290:39:31

-He's hiding down here.

-Yes.

0:39:310:39:34

If he goes outside, he's going to be killed,

0:39:340:39:36

and then he starts sketching on the walls out of...

0:39:360:39:40

boredom? Out of...?

0:39:400:39:42

I suppose it's what he does, you know.

0:39:430:39:45

It's the natural thing for him to do.

0:39:450:39:47

Yes, I think that he is thinking about his life,

0:39:470:39:52

and draws everything that he has...

0:39:520:39:56

..in his mind.

0:39:560:39:57

Do you recognise this one?

0:39:570:39:59

What's this?

0:39:590:40:02

-A foot.

-Oh, foot! It's a foot, I see.

0:40:020:40:05

A very big foot.

0:40:050:40:07

-It's his David.

-That's it.

0:40:070:40:09

-It's Michelangelo's David.

-Good. It is.

0:40:090:40:12

It is Michelangelo's David.

0:40:120:40:13

Huh?

0:40:150:40:16

So, many of these are figures that he has already painted...

0:40:160:40:20

-Yes.

-..in the Sistine Chapel and elsewhere.

0:40:200:40:22

I guess you could say these are, kind of, his greatest hits.

0:40:220:40:25

He's revisiting some of his...

0:40:250:40:27

Yes, he's revisiting.

0:40:270:40:29

Yes. Like an autobiography...

0:40:290:40:32

-MONICA LAUGHS

-..in art.

0:40:320:40:33

Exactly, the highlights, the highlights of my oeuvre.

0:40:330:40:36

We're just a stone's throw from Palazzo Medici -

0:40:390:40:42

talk about hiding in plain sight.

0:40:420:40:44

Our scans show just how close Michelangelo's cell was

0:40:460:40:50

to the home of the Medicis,

0:40:500:40:51

as they tried to hunt him down.

0:40:510:40:53

This had its advantages.

0:40:550:40:57

Michelangelo could spy on their movements

0:40:570:40:59

and, finally, make his escape.

0:40:590:41:02

How did he get out? Where did he go?

0:41:040:41:06

From the stairs, from the church,

0:41:060:41:09

and from the palace

0:41:090:41:12

that we can see together.

0:41:120:41:14

We can follow the escape route of Michelangelo.

0:41:150:41:19

-Does it involve going down there?

-No, no.

0:41:190:41:22

You've done too many programmes with us!

0:41:220:41:25

-Let's go.

-On you go.

0:41:250:41:28

It's just extraordinary.

0:41:280:41:29

Michelangelo had a friend who provided a safe house nearby.

0:41:360:41:40

After years of working at the church,

0:41:430:41:45

he knew all the secret passageways to avoid detection.

0:41:450:41:48

It's tempting to linger and admire the church,

0:41:520:41:55

but, with the Medici after him,

0:41:550:41:57

I don't think Michelangelo would have hung around.

0:41:570:42:00

This is the way.

0:42:000:42:02

Are we still within the San Lorenzo complex?

0:42:050:42:07

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

0:42:070:42:09

So, this is where Michelangelo would have crept out?

0:42:100:42:16

-Yes.

-Knowing that one false move

0:42:160:42:18

and he might have been captured by the Medicis.

0:42:180:42:21

Is this...?

0:42:270:42:28

Is this now the house of his friend?

0:42:280:42:31

Yes, we are entering the house.

0:42:310:42:34

'The secret passage takes us through a doorway

0:42:360:42:39

'that leads directly into the friend's courtyard.'

0:42:390:42:42

And he's reached safety now?

0:42:420:42:44

Yes.

0:42:440:42:46

Oh, we're safe!

0:42:460:42:48

-We're home.

-Yes, we are safe.

-We've made it.

0:42:480:42:51

An incredibly confusing route, though, isn't it?

0:42:510:42:53

We've come from an underground hole...

0:42:530:42:56

BELL TOLLS

0:42:560:42:58

We've run through a church.

0:42:580:43:01

We've been through a cloister,

0:43:010:43:03

we've been out into a street,

0:43:030:43:05

round a corner, to the house.

0:43:050:43:07

I've no idea, though, where the church is, in relation to here,

0:43:080:43:11

-or which direction...

-This is like a labirinto.

0:43:110:43:14

We're not in Florence any more, you know that, don't you?

0:43:140:43:16

-THEY LAUGH

-We've made it to Rome already.

-Yeah.

0:43:160:43:18

Our 3-D model of invisible Florence is taking shape.

0:43:250:43:29

It's fantastic to see how we can move from San Lorenzo

0:43:330:43:36

and the cell where Michelangelo hid,

0:43:360:43:39

onto the Palazzo Medici

0:43:390:43:40

and all the way back to the Duomo.

0:43:400:43:42

The House of Medici had built so much of Florence...

0:43:480:43:52

..but the best was yet to come.

0:43:540:43:56

The Medici returned in 1530.

0:44:070:44:10

They used armed force to retake the city,

0:44:130:44:16

and they'd do whatever it took to keep it.

0:44:160:44:18

First, they dealt with the rebels.

0:44:200:44:22

With Michelangelo, they struck a deal.

0:44:240:44:27

The artist agreed to finish their chapel,

0:44:270:44:29

and all was forgiven.

0:44:290:44:31

Michael has brought me to the new Medici HQ -

0:44:340:44:37

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence's main square.

0:44:370:44:39

We shouldn't get any ideas that the Medicis,

0:44:410:44:43

when they returned to power in Florence,

0:44:430:44:45

-are nicey-nicey with everyone...

-Yeah.

-..in their approach.

0:44:450:44:49

They come back in full force.

0:44:490:44:51

They're not pulling strings of power, they ARE power,

0:44:510:44:56

and there's no better symbol of that than the town hall of Florence -

0:44:560:44:59

that's been standing here since the 13th century -

0:44:590:45:02

is taken over by the Medicis as their seat of government.

0:45:020:45:06

The gloves are off, they're in charge.

0:45:060:45:08

They are Florence.

0:45:080:45:10

They take over this as their seat of government and then they decide,

0:45:100:45:12

"Do you know what? We need administrative offices

0:45:120:45:16

"to be able rule appropriately."

0:45:160:45:18

And they're right behind.

0:45:180:45:20

It's the Uffizi.

0:45:200:45:21

The Uffizi is no longer the city's offices,

0:45:220:45:25

but a world-class art gallery.

0:45:250:45:27

-Well, I'll see you later.

-See you in a bit.

0:45:270:45:29

While Michael investigates the invisible side of Palazzo Vecchio,

0:45:290:45:34

I'm going to take in some high art.

0:45:340:45:36

HE GASPS

0:45:440:45:47

I'll tell you what this is like.

0:45:480:45:50

It's like, if you can imagine going to party

0:45:500:45:52

and just coming face-to-face

0:45:520:45:54

with some the greatest figures from world history.

0:45:540:45:58

There they are. Look at the company I'm keeping here.

0:45:580:46:01

I've just walked into the Botticelli Room,

0:46:010:46:03

here is The Birth of Venus,

0:46:030:46:05

probably one of the most famous paintings ever!

0:46:050:46:08

Over there is La Primavera,

0:46:100:46:13

the three Graces surrounded by spring.

0:46:130:46:16

HE SIGHS

0:46:160:46:17

It's just me. It's just me and them.

0:46:170:46:20

These were both commissioned by members of the Medici family...

0:46:200:46:23

..but you get a sense of, of...

0:46:250:46:27

..having come to the birthplace of great art.

0:46:280:46:32

It sort of shouts down from the walls of this wonderful museum.

0:46:320:46:36

The Uffizi was built by the latest Cosimo Medici,

0:46:510:46:55

Duke Cosimo I of Florence,

0:46:550:46:57

and if you couldn't find him in his offices,

0:46:570:47:00

he may have been at the Palazzo Vecchio next door.

0:47:000:47:02

I wonder if Michael's found a way in yet.

0:47:060:47:08

Around the back of the Palazzo Vecchio

0:47:150:47:17

is a secret side door entrance,

0:47:170:47:20

called the Duke of Athens' Door,

0:47:200:47:22

and here it is.

0:47:220:47:23

Named after a ruler who was thrust upon the people of Florence

0:47:230:47:27

in the mid 14th century.

0:47:270:47:28

So unpopular that he decided to build himself an escape route,

0:47:280:47:31

and, indeed, so unpopular, it's said,

0:47:310:47:33

that he was chucked out of Florence before he had a chance to finish it.

0:47:330:47:37

Now, in the 16th century,

0:47:370:47:38

when the Medicis were ruling Florence from this palace,

0:47:380:47:41

I'm sure they would have loved an entrance and exit like this.

0:47:410:47:44

By now, the Medici were the public face of Florence,

0:47:500:47:54

but old habits die hard.

0:47:540:47:56

Hidden away inside are rooms showing that the Medici's love of secrecy

0:47:560:48:01

was stronger than ever.

0:48:010:48:02

This secret, hidden, little bank vault-like room

0:48:050:48:10

was Cosimo's personal man cave.

0:48:100:48:13

Only he had a key to this strange place,

0:48:140:48:19

and it's where he kept his personal documents

0:48:190:48:23

and treasured possessions, in these cupboards.

0:48:230:48:26

This room was totally forgotten about from the 18th century onwards

0:48:260:48:30

and only rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century.

0:48:300:48:34

I hope it doesn't take me that long to get out of here.

0:48:340:48:37

Even with the help of our scans,

0:48:400:48:43

it's hard to find a route through this place.

0:48:430:48:45

At its centre is the great Hall of Five Hundred,

0:48:470:48:51

Florence's own Houses of Parliament.

0:48:510:48:53

Behind it lies a labyrinth of rooms, corridors and staircases.

0:48:550:48:59

All these rooms and passageways,

0:49:090:49:11

they reek of secrecy, intrigue

0:49:110:49:14

and of a family who preferred to rule from the shadows.

0:49:140:49:19

But the Medicis weren't able just to scurry around

0:49:190:49:21

in particular buildings in secrecy -

0:49:210:49:24

they could get across the whole city that way.

0:49:240:49:27

I'm off to join Xander, to see if we can pick up the trail.

0:49:270:49:30

Michael's got to mix with the masses to get to me.

0:49:340:49:37

But the Medicis made sure they never had to mingle with the hoi polloi.

0:49:390:49:43

We're going to explore exactly how they controlled the city

0:49:450:49:48

without ever needing to put a foot outside.

0:49:480:49:51

Ah, Michael, how are you?

0:49:580:49:59

Of all the corners of this wonderful museum!

0:49:590:50:02

I've been hanging with Julius Caesar and Hercules, waiting for you.

0:50:020:50:05

-How are you?

-How fabulous.

0:50:050:50:07

Now, why have you brought me to this corner?

0:50:070:50:09

Well, I hope you've been enjoying something of the wonderful art here,

0:50:090:50:12

but, frankly, we're not interested in art right now.

0:50:120:50:15

We're interested in one of the secrets of the Uffizi

0:50:150:50:18

and that's a corridor, the ultimate corridors of power

0:50:180:50:22

that links to the Palazzo Vecchio, the heart of government,

0:50:220:50:26

through the Uffizi, once the administrative offices,

0:50:260:50:29

and on to the Medici's private villa and palace, in fact,

0:50:290:50:34

on the south side of the river.

0:50:340:50:35

All the way to the south side of the river, that's a long corridor.

0:50:370:50:42

What godlike power to move right through this city

0:50:420:50:45

and to see, but not be seen.

0:50:450:50:47

It's known as the Vasari Corridor, after the man who designed it.

0:50:500:50:54

From the outside, you would never know it was here,

0:50:560:50:58

as it winds its way above the crowded streets of Florence.

0:50:580:51:02

Luca's walking its length with his backpack scanner

0:51:060:51:08

to give us a perspective that even the all-seeing Medici

0:51:080:51:12

could only dream of.

0:51:120:51:13

What's the point of this? Why was it so urgently required?

0:51:150:51:18

Well, the official reason was that Cosimo's son, Francesco,

0:51:180:51:23

was getting married and they needed a secure and quick passageway

0:51:230:51:27

-for the bride and groom on the wedding day...

-That's nice.

0:51:270:51:30

..to avoid getting the wedding dress mucky on the streets.

0:51:300:51:32

-Quite right.

-But that's the official line.

0:51:320:51:35

-Yes.

-I mean, behind that is a much bigger story.

0:51:350:51:40

Don't forget, their own family had been riddled with intrigues.

0:51:400:51:43

Alessandro de' Medici is killed in his bed, by his cousin,

0:51:430:51:47

having been discovered in bed with the cousin's wife.

0:51:470:51:50

That's a great story right there!

0:51:500:51:51

-Yeah.

-Killed by his own cousin...

0:51:510:51:53

-Yeah.

-..for sleeping with his cousin's wife.

-Absolutely.

0:51:530:51:55

But this is, kind of, part and parcel

0:51:550:51:57

of the dynastic, despotic families of the period.

0:51:570:51:59

-Right.

-Now, Cosimo, as any ruler,

0:51:590:52:01

with such power and with such history behind him,

0:52:010:52:05

you can imagine he is constantly looking over his shoulder.

0:52:050:52:09

The very fact that they decide

0:52:090:52:11

that a permanent, secure corridor is needed...

0:52:110:52:15

Tells you everything you need to know.

0:52:150:52:17

..tells you everything you need to know

0:52:170:52:19

about how the Medicis understood their position in Florence.

0:52:190:52:22

This secret passageway

0:52:250:52:27

even passes over Florence's oldest bridge

0:52:270:52:31

and you would never know.

0:52:310:52:33

Well, this is a wonderfully elevated and rarefied view of Florence.

0:52:330:52:38

Here we are on the Ponte Vecchio.

0:52:380:52:39

I wonder how many people,

0:52:390:52:40

of the millions who must cross this every year,

0:52:400:52:43

I wonder how many look up and have any idea

0:52:430:52:46

of what happens upstairs at the Ponte Vecchio.

0:52:460:52:49

This was in everyday use.

0:52:490:52:51

I mean, it wasn't just kept for dire emergencies.

0:52:510:52:54

No, no, no, no. Roll out of bed in the morning and get...

0:52:540:52:56

Not walk this, get into your little carriage.

0:52:560:52:58

It's built wide enough for a carriage

0:52:580:53:00

to, sort of, take you down to your office for a day's work

0:53:000:53:03

-and then back home again.

-I'm worried about two things.

0:53:030:53:05

The exercise he's not getting

0:53:050:53:07

and the vitamin D he's not getting.

0:53:070:53:09

He's going to get rickets.

0:53:090:53:10

I think he was also more worried, probably,

0:53:100:53:13

about getting stabbed in the back or something like that.

0:53:130:53:15

OK. OK!

0:53:150:53:16

I'm beginning to think of it as an invisibility cloak,

0:53:190:53:22

but one made out of bricks and mortar.

0:53:220:53:25

So, Cosimo merely needed a pair of roller-skates, at this point,

0:53:270:53:30

so he could just be pushed down into his residence.

0:53:300:53:33

It was an easy ride back at the end of the day towards the residence,

0:53:330:53:36

and that's where we're heading now.

0:53:360:53:38

We're heading towards the Pitti Palace.

0:53:380:53:41

After a kilometre of corridor,

0:53:410:53:43

the secret passage emerges

0:53:430:53:45

into the gardens of the glorious Palazzo Pitti...

0:53:450:53:50

And this will give you a good view.

0:53:500:53:52

..the place the Medici now called home.

0:53:540:53:57

It's just massive. That's a fortress, isn't it?

0:53:570:54:00

I mean, there's no mistaking that. That's just impregnable.

0:54:000:54:03

From the top of the gardens,

0:54:050:54:07

Cosimo could look down on the city

0:54:070:54:09

his family had done so much to shape.

0:54:090:54:11

The Vasari Corridor has brought us

0:54:140:54:16

from the heart of Florence to the edge of the city.

0:54:160:54:20

When you're on the inside,

0:54:200:54:21

you can't see how it all relates to the world outside,

0:54:210:54:24

but virtual reality is going to change all that.

0:54:240:54:27

-In we go.

-Wow!

0:54:310:54:33

Here begins the Vasari Corridor.

0:54:330:54:36

Diddly, diddly...

0:54:360:54:38

All the way down here,

0:54:380:54:40

sharp turn here.

0:54:400:54:42

-Beautiful!

-Over the eye.

0:54:420:54:44

Beautiful!

0:54:440:54:46

To see it like this,

0:54:460:54:48

where you can actually start to put it all together,

0:54:480:54:51

how, particularly south of the Arno,

0:54:510:54:53

it finds its way circuitously around all those properties.

0:54:530:54:56

And actually, one of the lovely things about operating at this scale

0:54:580:55:02

is that I can just take a, kind of, casual walk over here,

0:55:020:55:05

just disappear out through that window and levitate.

0:55:050:55:09

Join me outside over here. It's quite a scary feeling,

0:55:090:55:12

just taking that step out of the corridor.

0:55:120:55:14

-Come on, Xander. Join me out here.

-Argh!

0:55:140:55:16

Whoa! Look at that.

0:55:160:55:18

Floating above the Ponte Vecchio.

0:55:180:55:20

Ooh, ice creams over there. Mmm!

0:55:200:55:22

But the funny thing is, having been in the Uffizi,

0:55:240:55:27

having been along the Vasari Corridor,

0:55:270:55:29

you never get this...

0:55:290:55:32

..sense of where it is, you know, how it all connects.

0:55:330:55:36

It does, sort of, give you an illusion

0:55:360:55:38

of Medici, kind of, power, doesn't it?

0:55:380:55:40

Looking over, having Florence as your plaything, like this.

0:55:400:55:43

'I feel I've really got to know the Medici.

0:55:490:55:51

'I've walked in their footsteps, drunk wine with their rivals

0:55:510:55:55

'and been awed by their churches.'

0:55:550:55:58

I mean, my word!

0:55:580:56:01

'So I suppose my last question is...'

0:56:010:56:03

What became of the Medici?

0:56:030:56:06

Well, they continued to have power until the 18th century,

0:56:060:56:08

but then their line ended.

0:56:080:56:10

There were no Medici heirs.

0:56:100:56:12

So this family that had had so many enemies,

0:56:120:56:16

trying to bring them down over the centuries,

0:56:160:56:18

finally is just brought down...

0:56:180:56:20

completely by nature.

0:56:200:56:22

But the last Medici donated the entire Medici art collection,

0:56:220:56:28

all their personal possessions to the city of Florence.

0:56:280:56:31

With the proviso that, in her words,

0:56:310:56:34

that it should remain in the city for the benefit of its citizens

0:56:340:56:37

and for the inducement of visitors.

0:56:370:56:40

That's wonderful. I mean, that is a bequest beyond...

0:56:400:56:43

beyond measurable value.

0:56:430:56:45

And now, I feel privileged

0:56:470:56:49

to see something that even the Medici could never see.

0:56:490:56:52

Our scans have come together

0:56:540:56:56

to form the most extensive 3-D model

0:56:560:56:59

of Medici Florence ever made.

0:56:590:57:01

And for me, the scans really show that Florence

0:57:030:57:06

is one big sleight of hand.

0:57:060:57:09

It looks so light, so ethereal -

0:57:090:57:11

but just below it is all that intrigue, all that rivalry.

0:57:110:57:15

From the hidden passageways and secret routes

0:57:170:57:20

through some of Florence's famous buildings...

0:57:200:57:23

..to the labyrinth of structures and supports

0:57:240:57:27

that hold up Brunelleschi's magical dome.

0:57:270:57:29

Now, when I look at Florence, I see violent competition,

0:57:430:57:47

secret corridors of power and creative brilliance.

0:57:470:57:52

All of this put Florence on the map

0:57:520:57:55

and made it the engine room of the Renaissance

0:57:550:57:58

that shapes our world to this day.

0:57:580:58:00

If you'd like to explore Florence in 3-D yourself,

0:58:120:58:15

go to BBC.co.uk/InvisibleItaly

0:58:150:58:19

and follow the link.

0:58:190:58:20

Documentary series. Using the latest 3D scanning technology, Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the romantic city of Florence.

They reveal how its wonderful facades and artworks mask a hidden story of intrigue and secrecy, and one powerful dynasty was behind it all - the Medicis, godfathers of the Renaissance. Finally, the scanning team build a virtual reality 3D model to reveal how the city's secret corridors of power were the foundation of the city's Renaissance glory.