Enjoy some of the most breathtaking views over the city from these 3 towers
I have a true passion for panoramic views, those in which your eyes can wander and get lost, getting their fill of the infinite beauty that surrounds us, whether natural or man-made? When I’m in front of these types of scenes, I feel ensnared and enchanted as a small child in front of the window of the most beautiful toy store in the city.
Then, if I can enjoy the beautiful view right at sunset (as in the photo above), well... there is nothing I would ask for then!
If you are like me and love stunning views, you will find plenty in Florence, all offering different viewpoints, both in town and in the surrounding hills. But if you are looking for something truly special, then I recommend you climb a tower! In Florence, that means getting a spectacular 360° view from up on high.
So get ready to enjoy the superb unique views that these three towers offer of Florence: the Arnolfo tower in Palazzo Vecchio, the cathedral's bell tower by Giotto and the tower of San Niccolò, one of the last few remaining that ran along the ancient walls that surrounded Florence in medieval times.
THE TOWER OF ARNOLFO
The tower of Palazzo Vecchio is one of the symbols of Florence and it is called the tower of Arnolfo in honor of Arnolfo di Cambio, considered the architect and designer of the ancient palace.
With its 95 meter height, the tower offers spectacular views of Florence and its surroundings, not just at the very top but also along the way up thanks to several openings as well as the picturesque round of battlements that crown the palace.
Don't be afraid to make the climb! The climb to the top of the tower is quite pleasant despite its height and the many steps you need to climb to get to the top (there are about 400). The difference compared to the other towers, is that this one still remains off most people's radar (it was only open to the public in 2012) so you can take your time going up. There are less visitors than you find on the steps up Giotto's bell tower and those in a hurry can easily pass you by at several points.
The entrance to the tower is from within the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio and there is a fee to go up. At the ticket office, you’ll find several options: a ticket to just climb the tower and visit the battlements, or a combined ticket with Palazzo Vecchio. If you have time, I recommend you buy a combined ticket since the museum within Palazzo Vecchio has many treasures that need to be seen and admired.
Just make a note that the climb up the tower is not allowed to children under 6 years old (while anyone under 18 years must be accompanied by an adult). It is also not recommended for anyone with walking difficulties or health problems. The tower is closed, for safety reasons, if it rains.
CELEBRATING A SPECIAL OCCASION? Book a tour of the Tower of Arnolfo at sunset + dinner or aperitivo: read all details.
BOOK IN ADVANCE a ticket for the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio and the Tower of Arnolfo: read all details.
Read more about Palazzo Vecchio and what you'll find inside here.
GIOTTO’S BELL TOWER
"Giotto's Campanile" as the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is called in Italian is a splendid testimony of Florentine Gothic architecture of the fourteenth century. The Campanile is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Italy and when one admires it closely, you'll be able to see its great beauty, despite being surrounded by other masterpieces such as the Duomo and the Baptistery.
Giotto began the construction of the bell tower begun in 1334 and, after his death, first Andrea Pisano and then Francesco Talenti continued to oversee and design the tower which was finally completed in 1359. Giotto's bell tower is 82 meters high and to reach the top you’ll need to climb many steps, 414 steps to be precise. The climb up the tower is gradual since the tower has three middle floors - these are perfect to both take in the panorama of Florence's cathedral square below as well as to rest. The only drawbacks are that the steps are rather narrow and it is the only way up and down, so you need to share it with people coming down. At some points, this sharing of the narrow space can be a little uncomfortable. But the view at the top is worth it!
The view from Giotto's Campanile is complementary to that one of Brunelleschi's dome which is only 10 meters higher. As the two monuments offer substantially the same panorama from the top, admiring one from the other is actually very exciting! If you have the time, as well as powerful legs (as the climb to the top of the dome requires you to climb 463 steps), I really do recommend you visit both and enjoy the different perspective they offer.
LOOKING FOR AN UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE? Book a tour with Terrace Visit, Dome Climb, Wine Tasting and Optional Lunch: read all details.
The entrance to Giotto's bell tower is located on the back of the tower as you face the facade of the Duomo.
To access the Giotto's bell tower, just get in line as there is a ticket office inside. If you've already visited another monument in Piazza del Duomo, then you might already have your ticket which is the “Il Grande Museo del Duomo” Pass. It is valid 24 hours and includes entry to Brunelleschi’s Dome, to the Baptistery of St. John and to the crypt of Santa Reparata, all for just € 10. Starting October 29, 2015, with the long awaited reopening of the Opera del Duomo Museum, the ticket will include the visit to this Museum and cost will go up to € 15.
Children under 6 years have free access to all of the monuments mentioned above but you still must pick up a free ticket for them at the ticket office.
The climb is not recommended for those with health or mobility problems.
THE TOWER OF SAN NICCOLO’
The Tower of San Niccolò is located in Piazza Poggi along the Arno River just below the terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo. Although it’s far less popular than the previous two, the Tower of San Niccolò stands out for its majesty within the district of San Niccolò.
The tower of San Niccolò was part of the defensive wall which Arnolfo di Cambio designed in 1200 to protect Florence and it was one of the entrances into the city so it was actually a gate into the city. The tower is the only one of the city gates to be have arrived intact to our present day, even in its height (30 meters). All of the other tower-gates in Florence were actually reduced in height in 1500 because they were an easy target for enemies which were by then equipped with firearms, but the tower of San Niccolò was actually spared of this because it was naturally protected by the hill of San Miniato which sits right behind it.
The San Niccolò tower is therefore "only" 30 meters meters so the top can be reached by climbing "just" 160 easy steps (compared to the other two). Do not be fooled by the lower height of the tower as the view from the top is quite extraordinary and allows you to enjoy the main monuments of the historical center and the surroundings of Florence. The nearby terrace of Piazzale Michelangelo is actually more or less about the same height! If you're looking for an alternative to the classic view at sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo, here it is! While you do pay a fee to climb to the top, the location is definitely more exclusive and more romantic!
The San Niccolò tower is, unfortunately, only open in the summer and, even then, only in the afternoons :(. It usually is open to the public from June 24th, the feast day of the patron saint of Florence, up until September 30th and only in the afternoon (approximately from 5pm to 7/8 pm). The tower is closed if it rains for safety reasons. Access to the tower costs €6 and is free for children under 18 years old. The ticket includes, at no extra charge, an interesting guided tour in several languages, and you must book your visit by contacting the Association Mus.e either by phone at + 39 055-2768224 or by email at email@example.com .com.
Are you ready to exercise those legs? I wish you a fantastic "tour" of Florence's towers to enjoy some of the best views in town; let me know which view conquers your heart, as I am sure one (if not all) will!