The Campanile in Florence

A Visit to Giotto's Bell Tower in Florence, Italy

The Campanile, or Bell Tower, in Florence, is part of the Duomo complex, which includes the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) and the Baptistery. After the Duomo, the Campanile is one of the most recognizable buildings in Florence. It is 278 feet high and offers fine views of the Duomo and of Florence.

Construction of the Campanile began in 1334 under the direction of Giotto di Bondone. The Campanile is often called Giotto's Bell Tower, even though the famous Renaissance artist only lived to see the completion of its lower story.

After Giotto's death in 1337, work on the Campanile resumed under the supervision of Andrea Pisano and then Francesco Talenti.

Like the cathedral, the bell tower is sumptuously decorated in white, green, and pink marble. But where the Duomo is expansive, the Campanile is slender and symmetrical. The Campanile was built on a square plan and has five different levels, the lower two of which are the most intricately decorated. The lower story features hexagonal panels and reliefs set in diamond-shaped "lozenges" which depict the Creation of man, Planets, Virtues, Liberal Arts, and Sacraments. The second level is decorated with two rows of niches in which there are statues of prophets from the Bible. Several of these statues were designed by Donatello, while others are attributed to Andrea Pisano and Nanni di Bartolo. Note that the hexagonal panels, lozenge reliefs, and statues on the Campanile are copies; the originals of all of these works of art have been moved to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo for preservation as well as up-close viewing.

When visiting the Campanile, you can begin to see views of Florence and the Duomo as you are approaching the third level. The third and fourth stories of the bell tower are set with eight windows (two on each side) and each of these is split with curving Gothic columns. The fifth story is the tallest and is set with four tall windows each split by two columns.

The top story also features seven bells and a viewing platform.

Note that there are 414 steps to the top of the Campanile. There is no elevator.

Location: Piazza Duomo in the historic center of Florence.

Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays, 8:30 am until 7:30 pm, closed January 1, Easter Sunday, September 8, December 25

Information: web site; Tel. (+39) 055 230 2885

Admission: A single ticket, good for 24 hours, includes all the monuments in the Cathedral Complex - Giotto's Bell Tower, Brunelleschi's Dome, the Baptistry, the Crypt of Santa Reparata inside the Cathedral, and the Historical Museum. Price in 2014 is 10 euro.