On my first or second morning in Florence my home-stay roommate and I climbed the Bell Tower next to Florence Cathedral (Duomo). The 414 steep steps tried to kill me. The view is worth it at the top. The structure is beautiful, white, red, and green marble. Building began in 1334 and was completed in 1359.
If you are claustrophobic or don’t like the possibility of brushing into another person then I do not recommend climbing the bell tower. There is only one way up or down and the stairs are super narrow. If you do elect to climb the tower – go early in the morning. It is cooler and there are fewer people. I also recommend buying your tickets before hand – that will save you time in line.
I was in Florence for three weeks and did not go into the Duomo other than to climb to the top of the cupola. I did this two weeks or so after climbing the bell tower. Honestly, I didn’t go into the main portion of the cathedral because I didn’t have time. There is so much to see in Florence that I had to make sacrifices. But it gives me chance to go back and see something I haven’t seen before.
If you thought 414 steps were bad, wait until you climb 463 to the top of the cupola and on top of that once you get closer to the top the stairs and the ceiling are curved. To say its an odd set of stairs to climb is an understatement.
The good this about climbing the dome is that you do get a good view of the interior of the cathedral and a close up view of the inside of the painted dome. Please be aware that these stairs are just as narrow as those in the bell tower and again you go up the same way you go down. This is a popular thing to do and you have to book a time slot in advance if you want to make the climb and I do highly recommend it. Go earlier, its worth it.
When visiting Florence make time to make one of these climbs – the view is worth it and if nothing else you can say that you did it. Until then, stay safe.
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