When Filippo Brunelleschi had finished erecting his splendid cupola, he began all the finishing touches that were necessary for completing the masterpiece.
One of these was the decorating of the octagonal drum located at the base of the cupola which was still bare.
This was the year 1506 and this task was entrusted to Baccio D’Agnolo, one of the artists who together with Giuliano Sangallo and Simone Pollaiolo had been responsible for the Opera del Duomo during that period.
Baccio designed a loggia-style balustrade with columns in white marble that enclosed the eight sides forming the base of the cupola. The colour of this marble was in contrast with the red roof tiles of the cupola. He began working on the southern side, the one that faced onto Via del Proconsolo, which he finished in 1515. One eighth of the Opera was completed, however at this stage Baccio D’Agnolo, decided to ask the Florentine people what they thought of his work before putting his hand to the other seven sides, and so he brought the construction to a halt.
As fate would have it however, Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest unquestioned master of that era (and not only) happened to be in Florence during the same period. Michelangelo took a good look at the arches and columns in white marble and then in the presence of several members of the Signoria, his colleagues and a large crowd of townsfolk who were waiting with bated breath to hear his illustrious opinion, he slowly rubbed his grey beard and exclaimed: “It looks like a cricket cage to me!”.
Baccio D’Agnolo, who was an extremely sensitive artist, was so offended by these words that he abandoned the Opera and it remained unfinished forever.
Just as we can see it today.