Looking back on my week long, mid-semester break to Italy I simply can’t shake the feeling I got at the top of the Piazza del Duomo, so I thought I’d share, and hopefully inspire some other travelers.
First, I should probably mention that I was traveling with my four other friends, and it was our last day of our five day Italian extravaganza. Nobody wanted to leave Italy, the land of pasta, pizza, wine, and gelato (four things that will never taste the same to me again), the place where people relax and enjoy simple pleasures like coffee, which we normally find more of a necessity than an indulgence. Where real leather was as common as the authentic Venetian masks. But enough of my Italian tangents, the point is just when we thought it couldn’t get any better we came across the infamous Duomo. The entire week we were running around Italy we had been so focused on seeing everything that the cities had to offer, I realized we rarely took a moment to stand back and take in everything that was around us.
Piazza del Duomo proved to be the exception.
Totalling 463 steps to the top, we were surprised that the staircases were windy, narrow, and very dark, not exactly user friendly. About half way to the top you find yourself on a walkway, inside the church walking around the circumference of the dome giving us an up close view of the painted dome. And if anybody’s wondering, looking from the top tier down onto the inside of the church was just as stunning as standing on the floor of the church and looking up. After the brief break on a flat surface we continued climbing. If we thought the stairs before were cramped, it only became tighter! With a large school group in front of us, and other visitors squeezing by to get back down, I would give up your values of personal space for a couple minutes while you wait to get to the top.
And just as quickly as I felt bombarded by people, I felt overwhelmed by the sweeping views as we stepped out of the stairs into the open air on top of the Duomo. It’s a small area, but you can walk around in a complete circle getting the full 360º of Florence. It’s weird how at only 90 meters high, we were able to overlook all of the city, from the people below us at the market, slowly stretching out to the rolling hills and mountains in the countryside.
After getting our pictures from all sides, and constantly repeating how we were never leaving, the exhaustion from a week of walking, combined with a whole lot of stairs seemed to hit us all at once. If you find yourself in the same position, we found there’s no better place to regain your strength than on top of the Duomo. We sat down by the fences on the perimeter and watched as the sun set over the city–another suggestion I would make would be to go at this time because watching the sun set on the infamous Italian terracotta houses was truly breathtaking.
The Piazza del Duomo was the perfect ending to our perfect trip, and I hope that you have an experience that’s just as memorable. Happy traveling!