Everyone talks about climbing the Duomo while in Florence, but our favorite climb in the city is to the top of Giotto’s bell tower. Why? You get the same amazing views of the city that you get from the Duomo (aka the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) – PLUS the added bonus of seeing the dome of the Duomo from a birds-eye view!
The bell tower is part of the Duomo complex that’s made up of the cathedral (Duomo) with Brunelleschi’s famous dome, Giotto’s bell tower, and the Baptistry of St. John.
CLICK HERE to go straight to the info about buying tickets for and climbing the tower – otherwise, read on for a little bit of background on Florence’s bell tower.
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Who Designed The Florence Bell Tower?
Giotto’s bell tower, also called the Campanile di Giotto, or the Florence bell tower, was designed by… you guessed it – Giotto (full name – Giotto di Bondone)!
Who Built Giotto’s Bell Tower?
Giotto’s started it but sadly died a couple of years later. Andrea Pisano took over, but he too died during the construction (from the bubonic plague). Finally, Francesco Talenti was able to finish Florence’s bell tower.
When Was Giotto’s Bell Tower Built?
Construction on Giotto’s early Renaissance bell tower began in 1334 and was completed in 1359 by Francesco Talenti. Almost 800 years later, its stairways are open for YOU to climb up and admire the views of the Duomo, the baptistry and Florence.
Why Was Giotto’s Bell Tower Built?
Giotto’s bell tower was built to be a part of Florence’s cathedral. It’s unique in that it’s not actually attached to the church. By building off to the side a bit, the view of Brunelleschi’s dome (the dome of the cathedral/Duomo) is unobstructed from the front.
The bell tower was built to house the ringing bells. And the bells tell worshippers it’s time for the church service.
How Tall Is The Florence Bell Tower (aka The Campanile Di Giotto)?
According to the official Opera del Duomo Museum, it’s almost 85 meters (84.7 meters), 277 feet. A sign at the top of the bell tower climb states that it’s 82 meters tall:
How To Pronounce ‘Campanile Di Giotto’
campanile – cahm-pah-NEE-lay
Giotto – JOTE-toe
Buying Tickets To Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower
Where To Buy Tickets
Purchase tickets from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo website. Or, you can purchase them at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo ticket office in the Piazza del Duomo, 14/a (electronic payment only) or at the ticket office in Piazza San Giovanni, 7.
New in 2023: The Duomo Complex likes to mix things up, so this year, you need to purchase one of three passes to visit its monuments – Brunelleschi, Giotto, or Ghiberti. Giotto’s bell tower is only included on the Brunelleschi Pass and the Giotto Pass.
If you’re set on a certain date, buy your tickets online way in advance. If you’re flexible, check the weather and climb Giotto’s bell tower when the skies are clear so you’ll get incredible views of Florence, the surrounding countryside, and the mountains.
Do I Need A Reservation To Climb The Bell Tower In Florence?
No. You do not need a reservation to climb Giotto’s bell tower in 2023. This is new in 2023 – in 2022 you did need a reservation. Now, just show up at the base of the tower, wait in line, and climb up!
Good To Know: If you’re thinking of climbing to the top of the Duomo – you do need a reservation for the climb up.
How Much Does It Cost To Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower?
Always check the official site for the most up-to-date prices.
2023 Duomo complex ticket prices:
|BRUNELLESCHI PASS (Duomo, bell tower, museum, baptistery, Santa Reparata)||40€|
|BRUNELLESCHI PASS REDUCED (children 7-14)||30€|
|GIOTTO PASS (Bell tower, museum, baptistery, Santa Reparata)||20€|
|GIOTTO PASS REDUCED (children 7-14)||7€|
|GHIBERTI PASS (Museum, baptistery, Santa Reparata)||15€|
|GHIBERTI PASS REDUCED (children 7-14)||5€|
|FREE (children 6 and under)||FREE|
Good To Know: You do not need a ticket to enter the Duomo (the main level).
What Can I Do If Tickets To The Florence Bell Tower Are Sold Out?
If you find the ticket passes are sold out online, choose another day, choose another pass type, or look into guided tours (both on the website and with organized tour operators).
Alternatively, you could climb up the Arnolfo tower of Palazzo Vecchio, or the tower of San Niccolò (during the summer).
If you’re not able to find tickets to any of the above, but you still want to see Florence’s gorgeous skyline, walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo or San Miniato al Monte.
Other nice views from up high in Tuscany:
- Lucca’s walls
- Monteriggioni’s walls
- San Gimignano’s towers
- Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Siena’s Torre del Mangia
- Montepulciano’s Palazzo Comunale
Florence Bell Tower Opening Hours
Always check the official site for the current operating hours.
It’s usually open daily from 8:15 to 19:45, with the last entry at 19:00.
Should I Climb The Florence Bell Tower At A Certain Time Of Day?
|Time To Climb||Reason|
|Early Morning||Beat the heat in the summer. The narrow stairways can get hot and stuffy. Note – early mornings can be cold during the winter.|
|Sunset||Sunset sky from above the city.|
|Evening||Twinkling lights of Florence from above. It’s just one great thing to do in Florence at night!|
|11:30, 12:00, Sunset||Hear the bells ring! During the bell tower’s opening hours, you can hear them at these times.|
Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower
Where To Go To Begin The Florence Bell Tower Climb
Wait in line on the east side of the bell tower (if you’re facing the front of the Duomo, it’s the ‘back’ of the bell tower). Remember that there is no timed entry, so plan for long lines during the spring, summer, and fall.
Helpful Tip: Bring water for the wait in line during the summer months – there is no shade mid-day!
You begin by entering the base of the tower.
Before you begin the climb, you must walk through a metal detector.
Then, lift those legs and start climbing the steps!
How Long Does It Take To Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower?
There are 414 steps in Giotto’s bell tower and you’ll need to climb up those 414 steps to get to the top of the bell tower and the highest viewing platform.
You are not required to complete the climb in a certain amount of time, but the recommendation is 30 minutes to climb up, enjoy the view, and come down. If you climbed straight up (without stopping at the platforms), you could probably make it in 10 minutes. But, the 360-degree views of Florence make stopping at the platforms worth it!
Good To Know: It took my 4-year old son and 75-year old father about 25 minutes to get to the stop, with leisurely stops at all 3 platforms.
What Is The Climb Like?
You don’t need to climb all 414 stairs at once. There are three viewing platforms on the way up so you can stop and catch your breath while you pretend you’re looking at the view.
The stairways are narrow. They were built for maintenance workers, not for those of us in search of extraordinary views of Florence.
The final set of stairs is spiral-style, so parts of the steps are very narrow.
There are no handrails.
All the viewing platforms (including the top) are fenced in.
You can do a virtual tour of the climb if you’re curious/worried about the stairs or want to see how the platforms are fenced in.
Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower With Kids
Climbing the bell tower is a great way to let kids get some energy out, especially after exploring museums in Florence.
Tiny windows on the way up make nice distractions, and little ones will love checking out one of the large bells and the views of the city below. There are a couple of sections with narrow steps, so make sure your kids pay extra attention to where they place their feet.
Wondering if your child is too young to make the climb? My 4-year-old climbed it easily and loved it!
Don’t worry that your child will be holding others up if he/she doesn’t climb quickly. If your child wants to take his/her time, you can let others pass at the viewing platforms.
There aren’t any toilets, so make sure to use one before you begin the climb.
Hoping to climb with a carrier or backpack? While some people have done it, the rule is ‘no bulky backpacks or bags,’ so you may be turned away. Also, it’s not a great place for a carrier or backpack. The stairways are narrow, and you’ll be squeezing by others climbing up and down. It will be uncomfortable for your child and the other visitors.
Looking for more things to do with your kids while you’re here?
Check out our posts on 70 Things To Do With Kids In Tuscany!
You may want to read about the Best Things Things to Do in Florence with Kids!
Who Shouldn’t Climb Giotto’s Bell Tower?
If you’ve got knee problems, heart problems, claustrophobia, vertigo, or you need to avoid physical exertion, skip this climb.
I’ll leave you with a video from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. It’s in Italian and is also signed.
Enjoy the climb! And when you’re done, get a gelato!
Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower FAQ
If you’d really like to see the frescos inside the Duomo’s dome, make sure you get the BRUNELLESCHI PASS so you can also do that climb. If you’re mostly interested in the views of the city, I’d recommend climbing Giotto’s bell tower (get the BRUNELLESCHI OR GIOTTO PASS). You get amazing views of Florence AND the Duomo AND the Baptistry AND it’s less crowded.
Yes. The bell tower is part of the Duomo, so you’ll need to dress respectfully (covering your knees, shoulders, etc) or you risk being denied entry.
No, there isn’t. What was Giotto thinking?!
The bell tower is decorated with red, white, and green marble, just like the Duomo.
Yes, it is!
“The pale afternoon sun dipped low over the Piazza del Duomo, glinting off the white tiles of Giotto’s bell tower and casting long shadows across Florence’s magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.”
-from Chapter 104, when Langdon enters the Duomo for Busoni’s funeral.
Yes! G-I-O-T-T-O is the 6-letter answer to your crossword clue.