Climbing the huge dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (the largest masonry dome ever built), is one of the most physically challenging activities to do in the center of Florence, not something for the faint hearted, nor the recently knee-operated!
The question that everyone has on their mind, while facing the climb, is "how many steps are there in Florence's Duomo?". Depending on the sources, the number varies from 414 to 463, the only solution is to count, climb and count, climb and count!
Anyway, the effort is definitely worth it and a fun experience for everyone: kids will love the adventure, adults will love the view.
The dedicated entrance for the Cupola experience is located in the north side of the Duomo. Reservation is mandatory (some combo tickets are also available).
Those who decide to take on the challenge will be already rewarded half way through the top, coming face to face with the stunning frescoes that line the interior of the dome, depicting the Last Judgement, painted between 1572 and 1579 by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.
Once at the top, the hard work is forgotten and now it's the beauty all around that leaves breathless.
Rest, take it all in... and try to recognize all the monuments!
Here is Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio and, on the other side of the Arno river, the Oltrarno district with the Boboli Gardens and San Niccolò neighborhood surmounted by Piazzale Michelangelo, with San Miniato al Monte monastery on the top of the hill. Again on this bank of the river, the marvelous silhouettes of Santa Croce and of the green dome of the Synagogue, and then San Lorenzo market and Santa Maria Novella church, with the tracks that departs from the train station behind it.
The 360° view is like a painting: one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the hills that embrace it.