Climb to the Top of the Duomo in Firenze

July 2008

My first trip to Italy and I felt like a kid on the first trip to Disneyland. I was a teacher traveling with my students and the first thought that came into my head is “make them tired”. So what we decided to do was to have all the kids climb up to the top of the Duomo (The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore) We climbed 463 steps after a long flight on the airplane! Only one of my students was not able to climb up to the top due to fatigue and asthma, but she trooped it up 200 of the steps!

I will honestly say that you should travel to the top of the Cathedral even if you have to wait in line for an hour. It is totally worth it! You will appreciate the first day and Florence so much more by being able to see the tops of the red roofs, people walking looking like ants. There is also a bit of a breeze at the top, but it was quite refreshing considering that we had been waiting in a long line with beams of hot sun piercing into our skin. I loved hearing some church bells when we were at the top. I was able to really enjoy the view of looking at Santa Maria Novella. In the summer time, this is a popular destination spot, so just waiting to climb up to the very top, you’ll have to wait several minutes. You may have to be a bit pushy to get to the top. 

As you climb up to the top of the Duomo, you will notice that the religious imagery goes from hell to heaven. You will see skeletons and demonic type images midway through and then as you climb up to the opening, you will see images closer to God and heaven. Breathtaking! Check out the frescoes and enjoy them. Also consider what it must have been like to actually paint and even build this!

If you are claustrophobic, the climb up to the stairs can sometimes be daunting, a little worrisome at some points. They made it so that traffic going up, has one path up. I remember going up in circles and having a little panic attack until I got to a part of the staircase that led straight across to another set of steps. You could occasionally see someone taking a breather. It always amazes me to see some old folk making the trek up. It shows me how resilient they are and how I want to be when I get older and travel. 
At the top, it gets a bit busy. As soon as you have made it, you are set, or so you think. You have to wait for people climbing down from the top in order to go up the stairs. I waited for about 8 minutes until traffic slowed down and then I had to be aggressive and just be adamant about climbing up to the stop to stop traffic going down. Sounds confusing, but you’ll see what I mean when you climb it. TRAVEL TIP: I would wear leggings if I were you, otherwise people will be looking up your dress as you climb up the entrance for the very top. There is a line and people are waiting below you to climb up. 

From this view you can appreciate the aerial view of the nearby church. You can see how it is shaped into a cross. Most people do not know this about churches. The view of the terracotta color tiles is an experience unmatched. It was also super “Rad” to hear people from all over the world talking about how breathtaking it was at the top. Definitely a “right of passage” in Florence. I can only imagine how many people have come up here and have been proposed to!

Final Verdict: Experience at the top PRICELESS!



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