Florence Duomo
Europe, Florence, Italy, Places to Visit in Italy, Read About Can't Miss Places

How to Buy Duomo Florence Tickets: Climb the Florence Cathedral

**Updated 2023

Florentines waited 140 years for the Florence cathedral to be finished, but once it was finished it became the city’s defining landmark. When thinking of Firenze, it’s a huge dome the color of burnt sienna that first comes to mind. Il Duomo (as Santa Maria del Fiore is popularly called) is one of the most breathtaking churches you will ever lay eyes on.

Florence’s main cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, was started in 1296 under Arnolfo di Cambio but it wasn’t until Brunelleschi added his immense dome in 1436 that it was finally finished. To think, the church lay open for almost a century and half waiting for someone to finish. Thankfully, Brunelleschi had the creative genius and vision to develop a “dome within in a dome” concept that would allow a topper nearly 150 feet wide and 180 feet above ground. The time was also right as Cosimo de Medici was ready to provide financial backing for the project and catapult his family’s name forward in Florentine society.

If you’re in the mood for a stair-stepping workout, climb the 463 steps to the top of the Florence dome. It is very tight though and the twisted corridor can get clogged with one group (either those going up or down) having to wait for the other to pass before moving. This can lead to hot, stuffy moments standing still. Halfway up is a viewing ledge where you get a splendid view of Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes. Back inside the dome sandwiched between the inner and outer shell, you will find the climb getting a little more challenging.  Every time, I’ve watched people get claustrophobic and climb back down. Sensing the curvature of the inner shell can be a little unnerving. The view from the top of Brunelleschi’s dome is worth the discomfort though. Rarely have I seen such a stunning vista. It is quite dramatic to see all of Florence and some of the Tuscan countryside spread out below. Magnifico!

When you’re done with your workout…and after you’ve enjoyed some deserved gelato…you will want to check out the cathedral’s interior. It is free to enter the cathedral, so sometimes there can be quite a line. The church itself is quite large and kind of bare. Your ticket pass, however, includes a visit the Santa Reparata crypt within the church where you can see the remains of four ancient churches. The most striking feature is a mosaic. This neat video highlights its restoration: https://youtu.be/KZKQ1xanJxY

To the side of the church is Giotto’s Bell Tower (Campanile). Finished in 1359, the campanile tower has a stately look—a tall, square spire with a colorful rose, green, and white marble facade that complements the exterior of il Duomo. You can climb it, too. And it only has 414 steps, so you save 49 steps off of the Duomo climb and you get a close-up view of the great Florence cathedral.

Across from the Campanile is the Baptistery whose doors cause quite a stir. Clad in white and green marble, the octagonal building has a detailed mosaic ceiling illustrating Biblical stories for believers to ponder. In 1401, a door design competition was held. Lorenzo Ghiberti beat out Brunelleschi and Donatello to create the vivid, ornate, bronze portals that launched the early Italian Renaissance and that Michelangelo dubbed the “Gates of Paradise.”

Behind the church is the Duomo Museum which highlights the golden age of Florence art, in particular sculpture—statues of popes, saints, and sinners abound. They have a wonderful pieta by Michelangelo, works of Donatello, reliquaries and relics, and Ghiberti’s original “Gates of Paradise” doors. Make sure to visit the terrace for a panoramic view of the Duomo—one of the best around.

How to buy Duomo Florence tickets:

There are three passes that you can book depending on how much of the Duomo complex you wish to see.

Ghiberti Pass: provides entrance to the church (shorter line) via crypt entrance, entrance to Santa Reparata crypt, entrance to Baptistery, and entrance to Duomo Museum.

Giotto Pass: everything the Ghiberti Pass includes plus the ability to climb the Campanile.

Brunelleschi Pass: everything in the Duomo complex plus the ability to climb the Duomo’s cupola! You must make a reservation in order to climb the dome.

Each of the passes is good for three days. To purchase and book your climbing times, go to https://duomo.firenze.it/en/home/

It also easy to reserve a tour with a talented local guide who will put in context what you are seeing/climbing. Here are my recommended tours:

Complete Florence Duomo Tour with Dome Climb

Buon viaggio!

Silly YouTube Video of Me at the Duomo: https://youtu.be/ypKTdehvhBA

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