Florence Duomo, Bell Tower, and Baptistry
We decided to spend our last day in Florence actually seeing some things around Florence, so we bought a 15 euro ticket that combined the Cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Baptistry, Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower), Crypt, and Il Grande Museo del Duomo (The Great Museum of the Duomo).
Climbing inside Giotto’s Bell Tower
We climbed Giotto’s Bell Tower first, which was 414 steps, not that I counted. It was quite a climb, but had a few flat levels where people could stop for a rest. The views from the roof area were great, and it was a good spot to look at Brunelleschi’s Dome. We stayed up there for about half an hour before heading to the museum.
View of the Duomo from part way up Giotto’s Bell Tower
The museum took us an hour to get through and was quite good. There were lots of statues and pieces in there that came from the Bell Tower, Duomo and Baptistery, such as the original doors and silver altar from the Baptistery. Basically everything in there relates to the Duomo and the surrounding buildings, so it was pretty relevant.
Inside Il Grande Museo del Duomo
Next we headed to Brunelleschi’s Dome and climbed that. The stairs were quite narrow, so we had to do a few awkward shuffles when we met with people coming back down. There were some pretty steep parts, so it made for a pretty enjoyable climb if you like that sort of thing. Unlike the Bell Tower, which was completely caged in at the top, the Dome had great unobstructed views, with only a low fence around it, so it was a better place to take clear photos.
Some of the stairs inside Brunelleschi’s Dome
It is interesting to think that the Cathedral was left without a dome for many years because nobody could think of a way to build a dome that large, until good old Brunelleschi came along.
View of Florence from Brunelleschi’s Dome
We stayed up there for about an hour, picking out different places we’d seen around Florence, such as the Piazza della Repubblica, the Palazzo Vecchio (which was originally called the Palazzo della Signoria). Apparently, Cosimo de’ Medici was once imprisoned inside the palace tower facing death, but he survived and around 100 years later the Medici family moved to the Palazzo della Signoria, where they lived until they relocated to the Pitti Palace and renamed their old palace the Palazzo Vecchio. The square next to it is still called the Piazza della Signoria and has been the center of many important political events in Florentine history. For example, Michelangelo’s David was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio and has been viewed by many as a political symbol. Apparently it was attacked at least twice by rioters, and its arm was broken during one riot against the Medici Family returning to Florence.
On our way back down from Brunelleschi’s Dome, we faced another wave of people coming up, so we had to keep pausing at the narrowest of spaces to let people go past us. We then headed to the Baptistery for a quick look at it’s shiny and impressive interior.
The dome inside the Baptistery
Next, we looked inside the Cathedral itself, which was quite plain in general, but the painted scenes on the inside of Brunelleschi’s Dome were amazing. I found it more interesting than the Sistine Chapel.
The relatively plain interior of the Duomo
Lastly, we headed down inside the Cathedral to the underground crypt and looked at some ruins of an old basilica, ancient flooring, and various gravestones.
Painted scenes on the inside of Brunelleschi’s Dome
We finished off our last day in Florence by taking some dinner up to the Piazzale Michelangelo where we sat and listened to the buskers while watching the sun go down. I just sat there enjoying (while my husband took a million photos) for a few hours. It was such a beautiful place. On our way home, we stopped by the Christmas Markets one last time to buy dessert before heading back to our apartment.
One of the meals we ate at the Chrismas Markets on a previous night in Florence
Florence was amazing and I was so sad to leave. As in other places in Italy, we did come across various people trying to sell you things. The main one in Florence was people approaching us, starting a conversation and then trying to offer us a present from Africa. At first we were too polite because we didn’t want to offend them, but we soon learned to just say a firm no to any attempt at conversation and keep walking. Once when one of them was talking to us, another man walked past saying ‘polizia, polizia’, which caused the one talking to us to leave us alone. Another scam we came across was people walking around in costume asking you to take a photo with them and then hassling you for money. We had one couple physically grab hold of me and refuse to let go until my husband took a photo, and then demand money. Too bad for them, we didn’t have any cash on us at that point, so we couldn’t have paid them even if we wanted to! However, these little annoyances were just part of the experience and didn’t really stop us from enjoying beautiful Florence.
Unedited photo of the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo