Brunelleschi’s Dome is THE architectural symbol of Firenze. Sure, other beautiful buildings exist, but this Renaissance feat of engineering has them all beat in the art history popularity contest.
The best way to observe Brunelleschi’s groundbreaking design of a dome within a dome is to crawl inside and see it up close. But that doesn’t come without a price.
Not only will you have to pay ten euros per adult, but your legs will join your children in protest as you complete the 16,402 steps to the top.
Just kidding. Well, about the number of steps, anyway.When you DO reach the top, the only word you’ll manage to utter is, “Wow.” That is, if you can even breathe after all that climbing.
Dazzling views of Firenze – this is your reward for waiting in the never-ending queue and conquering the 15th century StairMaster. For a moment, the pain will be forgotten and the beauty of the panorama will overwhelm you to the point of tears. Wait, that’s not you crying. It’s your three year-old son who just realized how far up he is. Cue massive freak out.
Promises of gelato are the only thing that’ll save you in this mess. Well, that and getting the heck out of dodge. Only, that’s not so easy either. Cue massive traffic jam. Apparently Brunelleschi didn’t design his dome for 21st century tourism…
You’ll grip your kid’s hand tightly because gee those steps seem to have gotten a heck of a lot steeper in the last twenty minutes. Don’t forget to swipe one last look at the incredible fresco inside the dome while you cross your fingers and hope that your kids don’t notice the grotesque figures being eaten alive in terrible judgement and wind up with nightmares for years. Sheesh.
Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch and before you know it, you’ve made it out alive! And, relatively unscathed… In, up, out, down, and done. Brunelleschi’s Dome – what more could you want in Florence?Actually, tons. Firenze offers so many options, it’s impossible for travelers to see it all in a matter of days (or even weeks!). Want to know what made our list?
Here’s a quick rundown of a few places we dragged the kids…
SANTA CROCE. I love this beautiful church almost as much as Santa Maria Novella (see below). We didn’t step inside, because I didn’t have my art-history-for-majors-who-have-minorly-forgotten-everything guide with me.
However, one thing that really struck me about both of these churches is their amazing entrances are merely facades, pretty stickers stuck on ugly brown box basilicas (for a visual, check out the second photo).
These flashy fronts were constructed with money from who-knows-where that could’ve been used for who-knows-what merely to conceal an ordinary building. I wondered what God must think of these churches…SANTA MARIA NOVELLA. Another member of the art history hall of fame, you can’t help but adore this place. It’s just so… frilly!
PIAZZA DELLA REPUBBLICA. If your kiddos love carousels, you’ll want to make a stop here. Bring a few coins and a bit of honesty. We easily could’ve hopped on without paying. The cashier was a young homie with his feet on the desk and his hands glued to his phone. No one checked tickets or shooed the children off after the ride. PERCHÉ NO GELATERIA. We tried several ice cream shops, but many are mediocre and all are very expensive (double the prices we paid in San Gimignano).
Doc Sci searched high and low for peanut butter gelato. Unfortunately, he didn’t find any, but Yelp tells me we should’ve tried Antica Gelateria Fiorentina. Ahh, well, the honey and sesame from Perché No helped to ease the pain.THE BARGELLO. I’m fascinated by sculpture, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the Donatello Room and a few early Michelangelos. Except for the pieces in the open courtyard, I was rather disappointed by the rest of the museum. The third floor was completely closed during our visit. Boo!After climbing Brunellschi’s dome and then wandering the streets of Firenze under the omnipresent Tuscan sun, we were BEAT… and nearly fell asleep on the train back to Pistoia!
But despite the crowds, my aching feet and sweaty brow, I couldn’t resist the charm of Firenze. Even in my exhaustion, I looked forward to returning. Lucky for me, I would only have to wait a few days for my next visit to the heart of the Renaissance…
Fancy a visit to the Uffizi with your family? Click here for my Six Tips for a Successful Visit to the Uffizi Gallery with Kids!
This post is part of Our Tuscan Family Adventure: Two Weeks of History, Culture, Food, and Fun in Italy series. Click on the link to view our bucket list and recaps of each excursion!
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Pete and I climbed this in 2005…but I think it might have been the other tower?? Looking back at the pictures I see the dome in them! And it looks kind of construction-y at the top so it may have even been closed at the time? We often wonder what God thinks of all the churches and cathedrals we visit!
Ahh, you climbed Giotto’s Campanile! We considered doing that one instead since the route is not as cramped and it’s not as popular as the dome (plus you get a great view of the dome itself from the campanile). But, in the end we went with the dome so we could see the design from the inside. I sense a lively discussion in the works on all the grandiose church architecture 🙂
Holy gadooly, I can’t believe your kids did that. What champions they are. I moaned when I did that, but you are SOOO right, that view is well worth it!
Once we were at the top, I couldn’t believe we did it with the kids either!
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