Close your eyes and think of Italy. Does the Florence dome come to mind? The Florence cathedral with its huge cupola the color of burnt sienna is simply one of the prettiest churches you will lay eyes on. It’s no wonder il duomo Florence adorns much of the pamphlets and postcards one sees about Italy.
Florence’s main cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, was started in 1296 under Arnolfo di Cambio, but Florentines waited 140 years for the Florence cathedral to be finished. Filippo Brunelleschi added his immense dome in 1436 and it was finally complete. Brunelleschi had the creative genius and vision to develop a “dome within in a dome” concept that would allow a topper nearly 150 feet wide and 180 feet above ground. One of the thrills of climbing the cupola is not only the magnificent view that awaits you but seeing the herringbone brick construction of the inner part of the dome.
I’ve climbed the dome of the Duomo in Florence many times. Each takes my breath way—figuratively and literally—those 463 stairs will get your heart pumping. When The Tour Guy offered me a spot on their “Complete Florence Duomo Tour with Dome Climb,” I was excited to see what aspects of the church and Brunelleschi’s masterpiece the tour would unveil.
It did not disappoint.
Our guide started by pointing out features of the church’s exterior. He talked about how Santa Maria del Fiore was funded and pointed out many design aspects on the façade that I didn’t know.
From there we went inside and learned about the art within, and on, the church’s walls. Our Duomo Florence tickets with this tour whisked us past the line, which was great given how long it was (wrapped around the building the day I was there). Inside the Duomo, our guide revealed many interesting facts about the church’s history and its construction. Before the “big attraction” of climbing the dome, we stood underneath it and gazed up at Giorgio Vasari’s “Last Judgement” frescoes on the dome’s interior. We would see them up close and personal later.
The best was yet to come.
We started our climb up the magnificent cupola single file one after each other in our small group. I enjoyed watching my fellow tour-goers “ooh and ah” as they peered out little windows during our ascent.
After about 150 steps (maybe closer to 200), we reached a small room that I had stopped at many times before. There is a gate that closes off statues and the…