Climbing the famous cupola or dome of the Florence Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is one of the best things to do during your stay in Florence. This opportunity to get panoramic views of the city and to see this unique architecture up close is surely on your Florentine bucket list, but the best way to do this day trip is to be prepared.
Top tips to enjoy your climb in Il Duomo
1. Book your Dome climb in advance
Booking a time slot for climbing the dome is mandatory, you cannot just buy a ticket and walk up. If you are purchasing your ticket in advance, or have a Firenze Card, you can book your time slot online, and this will mean you are more likely to get the time you want. Remember that you need to book this even if you have already purchased a ticket such as the OPA ticket or a Firenze Card, and you cannot change your time once it has been booked.
2. Go either early morning or at the end of the day
These are the best times for climbing the dome as it is not too hot in the cramped staircase, and there is often wonderful light for photo opportunities.
3. Be prepared - dress, shoes, water
Like most churches and cathedrals in Rome, it is important to make sure you have your shoulders and knees covered to enter the cathedral, as people do get turned away if they are not dressed appropriately. It is also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes for the ascent, and to take a small bottle of water and a camera (this is important if you do the bell tower climb as well).
4. Buy your ticket first thing in the morning
If you haven't already purchased tickets beforehand, it can be a good idea to purchase tickets before the line starts, even if you are planning on going to the monument later in the day
5. The Dome climb entrance is outside the Cathedral!
The entrance to the Duomo's dome is located on the side of the church. If you are outside, facing the front of the Duomo, the entrance will down the side and on the left, and there is usually a long line going into it
6. Take advantage of a free tour
Outside the front entrance of the Cathedral there are people who offer free mini tours, and they are a great way to get some background information on the church that you might otherwise have missed on your visit if you were exploring by yourself.
7. Do not go if you have a fear of heights or claustrophobia
The steps leading up to the top of the dome are very steep and narrow in some places, and in it is sometimes necessary to get out of the way for other visitors to squeeze past you.
8. Similarly, do not go if you have trouble climbing stairs
The only way to get up to the top of the dome is to climb the 463 steps up, and there is no option of taking an elevator. The climb was originally used by the people building the monument, and so they are as small as possible, so it therefore not advisable for you to do this if you have trouble climbing.
9. Appreciate the architecture and artwork up close
When you climb up the stairs you get to see Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgement up close, the magnificent painting that covers the inside of the dome ceiling. The walkway will also take you past the trusses which gives you a view of the architectural complexity of the dome which was a monument to architecture and technology in its time.
10. Take a picture at the top
If you go on a clear day, you can see the whole city as you are now standing on top of the tallest building in Florence. Take in the panorama that stretches from the Arno river to the foothills surrounding the nearby town of Fiesole.
- The first tip I always give for the Brunelleschi’s Dome climbing is: have a reservation. It’s the only way you will succeed to go up!
- The second tip: choose a comfortable footwear. It will take 476 steps before you get to the very top, and you’ll have to constantly stop in order to make other people climb down since the pass is narrow.
- Third suggestion? Bring along a camera: it’ll be necessary once on the top! :)