Giotto's Bell Tower (Campanile di Giotto)#12 in Best Things To Do in Florence
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Designed by Giotto in the early 14th century, this ornate 277-foot high bell tower is part of the renowned Duomo in central Florence's Piazza del Duomo. Although it is known as Giotto's Bell Tower, it actually required three architects to finish. The changes in style and design are apparent. Today, you can admire the tower's external design from the square below – make sure to spend plenty of time admiring the statues and reliefs by such famed artists as Donatello and Andrea Pisano. Or you can climb the more than 400 steps to the top for spectacular views of central Florence, a hike that recent visitors said leads to a better panorama than you get at the top of the Duomo because you get to view the Duomo from this vantage point.
However, the climb can be a real workout, so make sure to pace yourself. Travelers appreciated that there were several places where they could stop to catch their breath and admire the views on the way up to the top, which they said were well worth the steep climb. However, if you're visiting during the summer months, reviewers say you'll want to time your visit for the morning (or right before closing), as the climb only gets hotter as the day progresses.
You can see the Campanile for free at any time of day by taking a nice passeggiata (or stroll) around the piazza. Or, for 18 euros (about $20), you can take on the stairs and strive for magnificent views. Tickets grant you admission to all five monuments in Piazza Duomo, including the cupola climb. They must be reserved in advance online. The bell tower is open every day from 8:15 a.m. to 7:20 p.m. Note that it is closed on the first Tuesday of the month. For more information, visit its section on the Duomo website.
More Best Things To Do in Florence
#1 Piazza della Signoria
Loggia dei Lanzi, in the Piazza della Signoria, is an open-air (and free) museum that was designed in the 14th century by Orcagna, an influential architect and artist. Below the building's curved arches are dozens of sculptures (notable ones include Giambologna's Rape of the Sabines and Cellini's Perseus), which draw crowds of tourists and locals alike. Behind it sits the Galleria degli Uffizi. The Piazza della Signoria is also filled with its (more than) fair share of sculptures, including a towering replica of Michaelangelo's David.
Take your time wandering around, and if you get tired, grab a seat along the Loggia dei Lanzi, or make your way to a cafe near the Fountain of Neptune. Recent visitors said this is a must-see spot and a great area to people-watch, view magnificent sculptures and rest travel-weary feet (though past travelers recommended avoiding the restaurants in this area, calling them "outrageously overpriced." To avoid the height of the crowds, visit in the evening. Access to the area is free 24/7.
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