One of my favorite things about Florence is that the historic center is an outdoor museum. If you’re not the type to visit Museums, a quick walk through the main piazzas will more than satisfy your thirst for culture and art. For an activity that’s the perfect mix of exercise, architecture, art, and history plus the added bonus of a unique view of the city of Florence, try climbing the Duomo!
It isn’t for the claustrophobic, and the 463 steps will definitely have you winded by the end. The winding narrow staircase is quite impressive though, and tiny windows along the way give glimpses to the outside world and much-needed ventilation.
Near the end of your trek you’ll circle the bottom of the Cupola (dome) for a view of the Cathedral and an up close look at Vasari’s frescoes of the last judgement – perfect if you weren’t feeling spooked enough by the ancient dark stairwells!
The real pay-off comes when you reach the top and circle the balcony along the dome. You’re greeted with spectacular views of all the monuments of Florence. Photographers will find a unique perspective of the city to capture, and anyone who appreciates a good view will walk away with some nice shots as proof of their accomplishment.
Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral
Cupola – Dome
Campanile – Bell Tower
Tips For Climbing the Duomo or Belltower:
1. Get there early! When facing the facade, the entrance is along the left (north) side, and lines can get long. If you’re visiting the in the summer, it will be cooler in the morning which will make your climb much nicer.
2. This is a great off-season activity as the lines are shorter and the temperatures are down. Think twice in the middle of the summer since that narrow stairwell is for both those going up and down. Imagine it a bit crowded on a hot day! If you do go on a hot and humid day, bring a water bottle!
3. For views of the city that include the Cupola, try climbing the bell-tower!