Florence from above is a sea of terracotta surrounded by distant green hills. It’s an amazing sight if you are willing to put in a bit of effort to witness it! The highest lookout point in the centre of the city is the Cupola, or Duomo of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. There are no elevators in this 600-year-old cathedral, it takes 463 steps of leg-power to get to the top.
When we arrived in front of the Cathedral in Florence, it was nearing 10am and the Cathedral was not yet open to the public. A long line of people waiting to go in snaked along the side of the church. But if you are wanting to climb the dome (aka Duomo/Cupola), there is a separate entrance on the north side that had absolutely no line up. It also opens at 8:30am, earlier than the Cathedral itself. Firstly you need to purchase tickets from the ticket office, which is about a block away opposite the piazza. It costs 10 Euro per person, which includes entrance to all 5 monuments in the Piazza (so you can check out the cathedral after if you like). Then we walked straight in and up the steps.
There were a couple of points in the climb where you can have a moment to catch your breath. One was the circumvent walk along the inside of the dome, which gets you up close with Giorgio Vasari’s fresco of The Last Judgment on the ceiling. Then the walk gets a little bit narrower and the walls start to curve as you progress up the inside of the dome part. The way up is also the way down, so it can get a little squishy stopping to let other climbers through. If you get a little bit claustrophobic, this climb probably isn’t for you, especially the parts when the line slows down and you need to stop and wait in the narrow staircases for people to move on above you. It definitely wasn’t my favourite part but once you get to the very top, the views are the best over Florence. If you’d like to get a good shot of the Duomo itself, you might need to also climb the belltower, which is included in your ticket!
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
Piazza del Duomo, Florence