In the subplot of my novel, an art history professor/author has reason to believe that a secret catacomb is beneath the chapel within the dome of the Florence Cathedral. I would like for him to go to Italy in order to excavate and find out for sure as it is the basis of a book he writes. Here are my painstaking (probably annoying) questions:
1. Would it be feasible for a researcher like my character to get permission to excavate in a prestigious site like the Florence Cathedral?
2. What would be necessary for him to get permission or what kind of hoops would he have to jump through with the government and a financier in order to get the go-ahead?
3. How might an excavation go? Through my research, I am aware of the machines and tools necessary, but because my guy is American and he plans to work in Italy with the NYU art history and archeology branch there, would he be getting Italian archaeologists to work with? Under what kind of jurisdiction might he be under when working in another country?
4. In New York he has several research assistants, none of which have any experience with archaeology or excavation. They are invited along for the month or so of excavation but could they be in any way part of the "dig" or would their inexperience and lack of knowledge prohibit them?
I think some of my questions might be something I could invent fictionally, but I don't know a lot about archeology or the process of excavation and I'd like to stay as true to form as possible. Any information would be helpful; even a link or personal experience would be fantastic.
Also, I tried googling, "archaeology," "catacombs," archaeology italy," "archaeology architecture" and various other forms. I basically got information on archaeology and the process of excavation in the field, rather than inside of buildings. What I need is more specific...thanks again.
EDIT: Wow, the information pouring out is amazing, thank you all very much. I had the thought at the back of my mind that the Duomo would be a little extravagant. I wanted something big, but it's not necessary. I agree with several people who made this fact known to me and actually, it's somewhat of a relief because I knew I'd have to research like mad just to describe all those things above. Either I can change the subplot a bit or move the excavation to a smaller, lesser known church?