This paper presents the results of an interdisciplinary study carried out on Brunelleschi’s Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, one of the most emblematic masonry domes in the world. The cupola has been affected since the beginning of its construction by a widespread cracking phenomenon, and several studies were done over the centuries to clarify its safety conditions. To have a direct and indirect record of the cracks opening or closing, a complex monitoring system was installed on the monument during the last century. An accurate analysis of crack widths and global displacements, performed considering both historical and recent monitoring data, has allowed for the identification of the movements developed in the monument, evaluating their relationship with environmental and seismic events. In line with the interdisciplinary approach strongly recommended in the field of assessment and conservation of monumental heritage, this paper reconsiders some issues concerning the causes of the actual damage to the cupola. In particular, in light of the obtained results, the famous seventeenth century Viviani’s conclusions about the cupola’s damage, confirmed by Chiarugi in the 1980s, are compared with other hypotheses, such as the differential settlement of pillars (Cecchini in 1698 and Ximenes in 1757) and the influence of temperature variations (Nervi in 1934). The large amount of measured data and the results of the last numerical models of the cupola, combined with recent dynamic measurements, allowed the updating of some previous conclusions on damage causes and trends. Starting from these conclusions, a more reliable forecasting model of the monument can be set up that could be useful in identifying effective conservation strategy for this outstanding monument.
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