The Duomo in Florence

I will admit to being a total tourist the first time I saw Florence’s Duomo. I walked around the whole thing just looking up. Walk and gawk…walk and gawk. It’s simply massive whether you are at street level or at the very top on the cupola.

If you’re in Florence, be sure to take in the Duomo at various times of the day. Morning breakfast in Piazza del Duomo, or how about lunch, or a late dinner? Hey, nothing better than food + sightseeing! Depending on the time of day, the sunlight can illuminate the red tile roof or the white, green, and pink marble of the facade. Night is underrated (it’s also when the tourists clear out)–the Duomo’s fine lines stand against the dark sky. You don’t have to be an architecture nut or a history buff to appreciate it. It’s all simply breathtaking!

Florence Duomo

But enough about the outside. You should go inside. You can get your Duomo tickets in advance for a specific day and time. Plan ahead and do it. One ticket can get you in to the Duomo’s sites: the main church floor and crypt, the cupola, Giotto’s Campanile, the Baptistery, and the Duomo museum. The ticket is good for 48 hours.

Now one warning: The intricately decorated facade leaves a somewhat spartan interior. Of course, the big draw is Brunelleschi’s dome which does feature some beautiful frescos. The unadorned interior does give you the chance to contemplate the vast and empty space that is the Duomo. On the main floor of the church, you’ll see the entrance to the crypt. Make sure and take a visit down there. Back in the day, things were just built on the remains of other things and you can see that down there in the form of an earlier church.

View from the Duomo

Of course, the Duomo’s big draw is cupola – the top of the dome. It’s a must do, but not for the claustrophobic or people with bad knees! Another word of caution: It’s 463 steps up to the top in two-way traffic (same way up, same way down). But the reward? Picture postcard views of Florence and the surrounding countryside.

So that’s the Duomo…but you’re not done yet! There’s more to see in Piazza del Duomo. To get the classic shot of the Duomo cupola, you need to make your way over to Giotto’s Campanile – the bell tower – and climb some more steps – 414 steps to be exact. From there, you can get some close-up shots of the Duomo, including all of the people who made it to the top of the cupola!

Florence Duomo, view from Giotto’s Campanile

After the bell tower, wrap up your time in Piazza del Duomo with a visit to the Baptistery, with its octagonal facade and golden mosaic ceiling. Then head over to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (the Duomo museum) to see priceless works of art, statues, and artifacts relating to the Duomo.

If you’re only able to do one thing in Florence, the Duomo needs to be at the top of your list!

For more Florence and Italy pics, check out my Flickr album.

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