When in Florence if you want to truly understand the infrastructure of this historical city then you must climb 414 stairs to do it.

The Giotto’s Campanile is a free-standing campanile that is part of the complex of buildings that make up Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Florence.

The Campanile of the Duomo

The next major addition to the Duomo of Florence came in 1334, when Giotto di Bondone designed the campanile (bell tower) after the death of Arnolfo di Cambio. Giotto’s campanile featured seven bells and is made of geometric shapes that could exist either as a group or individually.

Giotto’s campanile displays several of the fundamental principles of Renaissance architecture: mathematics, logic, and basic geometric shapes like squares and triangles that interact to create a balanced, soothing beauty.

Giotto's Campanile

It is known to be one of the most beautiful towers throughout all of Italy.

The narrow stairs are easy to climb and there are viewing platforms along the way. So you rest but appreciate the spectacular views of Florence.

Giotto's Campanile

I love waking up to the roaring sound of the cathedral bells.

Giotto's Campanile

Each viewing point is amazing and it allows you to take in how historical Florence was and still is.

Giotto's Campanile Giotto's Campanile

Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower

Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Italian pronunciation: [katteˈdraːle di ˈsanta maˈriːa del ˈfjoːre]; in English “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower”), is the cathedral of Florence, Italy (Italian: Duomo di Firenze).

I can stand and look at it all day long.

Giotto's Campanile

Building the Duomo of Florence

As Florence grew to become one of the most powerful city-states in Tuscany, it displayed its wealth by building an enormous cathedral meant to dwarf any other building in the competing cities of Siena, Pisa, or Milan.

In 1296, Arnolfo di Cambio began construction on the cathedral, which he designed to be the most beautiful in all of Tuscany and which was to hold a staggering 30,000 worshippers.

In typical Tuscan style, the church’s outside is covered in geometric patterns of marble blocks. It’s horizontal in design, meaning that it emphasizes its length and width rather than its height. Because the Duomo of Florence was meant to emphasize size, the inside crossing was 140 feet wide. This was entirely new for churches and made the inside feel extremely spacious.

Although the entire cathedral is incredible, the most famous architectural feature is the dome, called the cupola in Italian. Around 1417, the building commission awarded Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti the task of building a dome on the top of the cathedral. Ghiberti ended up dropping out of the project because he was working on another part of the cathedral.

Brunelleschi was facing a monumental task. The area that the dome had to cover, the 140-foot crossing, was so big that nobody knew how to build a dome that wouldn’t be so heavy it would collapse.

Giotto's Campanile

After lots of mathematical calculations, Brunelleschi decided to build a dome with a slight point, rather than a smooth, round top. This style, called ogival, helped reduce the pressure of the structure and made the base of the dome responsible for supporting its weight, which made it stronger. Brunelleschi also invented a double shell system, where 24 ribs held a smaller version of the dome inside the outside shell.

Brunelleschi was a great Renaissance architect, but to make this dome he had to use more than the typical geometric and Roman-inspired designs. Since the dome was the first building project of its kind, Brunelleschi actually had to invent many of the tools and techniques used to build it, including certain kinds of cranes. Brunelleschi even invented the blueprint, but he forgot to teach other people how to read it, so the construction crew didn’t know how to build the dome until Brunelleschi came and explained!

The famous dome and how it was built is why it is so famous. The Duomo of Florence was especially important because of three unique features that helped spark the Renaissance and inspire artists and engineers across Europe.

 

You can climb the church but you have to book it in advance and every three sections to climb cost separately.