Standing tall alongside the famous Duomo Dome and Cathedral is Giotto’s bell tower. A masterpiece by the renaissance artist Giotto di Bondone who began the lower level construction in 1334 until sadly his death in 1337 meant that construction passed over to Andrea Pisano in 1343 who managed to add two more levels to the tower before the black death halted construction in 1348.
Completion of the tower fell to Francesco Talenti – who also had a hand in finishing the Duomo’s famous Dome. The bell tower was completed in 1359 at a height of 84.7m containing 414 steps to reach the top. The very steps we were about to tackle moments after the rather difficult Duomo climb.
I really would recommend buying tickets online for the Duomo, Cathedral, Baptistery and Campanile, beat the queues and part with your €15 (£13.81) without the stress. We used this link https://en.grandemuseodelduomo.waf.it/museo_dett.php?idtour=8484 and encountered no issues – please ensure you bring along all the documents that are available to print.
It was a hot sunny day when we made our ascent but fortunately the queues were not that bad at all. We decided to try entering before our allotted time marked on the ticket and had no problems doing so. The only issue was that the barcode had smudged slightly on the printer but the staff were great in sorting us out getting through the turnstile. Much like the Duomo climb these steps are 1) old and 2) quite claustrophobic. Be prepared to meet people coming in the opposite direction and for the love of god please don’t take a backpack or any form of large bag with you.
Unlike the Duomo Dome we did have plenty of opportunities to stop, catch our breath and admire the view as we got closer and closer to the top. There are points at which you can sit down and relax enough just to build up the energy to tackle the next few flights of steps. We were more than grateful for this!
The view by the third stage was just stunning. There is wire fencing in place but that doesn’t obscure your view and you can easily take incredible photographs of the Duomo and the surrounding areas of the city. Our ascent was around 2pm when a lot of people were having lunch so this or early morning could be the best time to climb the bell tower.
Reaching the top finally and having a welcome sit down never felt so good. We watched as many people climbed the last step dripping in sweat and panting heavily. I would recommend having a decent level of fitness to do this – any people with heart or severe weight/respiratory problems could have difficulty especially on a hot day. Do bring water.
The sense of achievement only gets better when you step out onto the balcony at the very top to take in an amazing panoramic of Florence. Yes the wire fence is a slight irritance as is the close proximity to people and their lenses but overall it’s well worth the leg-shattering ascent and the entry fee.
Getting down isn’t too bad but it can be very stop-start. With tight corners and people coming up towards you it can be a little frustrating, particularly when it’s hot and sweaty. Keep your ticket stub handy as this is used to exit back through the turnstile where you can purchase a souvenir of your climb from the gift shop.
The Campanile is well worth doing, especially as it’s included on your multi-ticket of Duomo sights you would be a fool not to use it. Equally you would be a fool like us to try and climb the two towers in one day when the temperature reached 36C. What were we thinking?!