Climbing to the top of the Duomo…for Nancy

Saturday was our 11th wedding anniversary (hehe, I just spelled that wrong. I spelled it “weeding anniversary,” just as I did earlier this morning in a message to a friend…LOL!!!). Since it was a nice clear day, Stefano and I decided t0 have lunch in town. Note: we ate quite a lot…this bit of information is relevant, please bear with me…

Then, as we were lazily strolling back toward the Duomo, Florence’s lovely cathedral topped by Brunelleschi’s famous cupola = dome (see:, Stefano announced (casual tone of voice): “I just had an idea!”

“Oh nooo, what?,” I replied, glancing at him…I had seen that Stefano “look” many times before, and it means trouble. “Well, why don’t we climb to the top of the Duomo’s cupola?,” he asked, grinning… 

“HAVE YOU BLOODY LOST YOUR MIND?!!!,” I almost shrieked, “we have JUST finished eating a huge meal! We will have a heart attack and die (for my Italian blog readers: “ma che se’ impazzito???…Ci verrà sicuramente una congestione di quelle terrificanti!!!”)!!!!“Awww, c’mon, we will climb up slowly, it will be fun…I haven’t been up there in years…” he coaxed. “Neither have I…but…” I looked up at the cupola, pondering the matter. Then Nancy popped into my mind…oh how she would have loved to view Florence from above…so I answered, “okay, I will make the climb for Nancy…”

We got in line…quite a wait, considering that it is only May (= not high season, that is)…and then we began our climb. 463 steps…some of which are quite steep, particularly toward the end. I don’t remember how long it took us to reach the top and step out onto the small circular marble terrace that you can see in a couple of my photos…certainly a half hour, which included a few stops to catch our breath and rest our pounding hearts…and also a stop to admire the inside of the dome. Yes, at one point, when you are convinced that you cannot possibly climb another step or your heart will burst (thumpety thump thump!), you reach a landing leading to a small door…and you step out onto a very narrow shelf that offers a spectacular, close-up view of the frescos painted on the dome ceiling (see photo, which gives an idea of what we saw…)…breathtaking!

At that point, you are more or less two-thirds of the way up. Puff puff. You continue in single file (yes, it’s narrow!). More steps, heart pounding harder. Ah, that reminds me. At the ticket booth there is a sign warning people with heart trouble NOT to attempt the climb. No kidding…

At one point I came upon a Spanish woman who looked terribly upset. She was panting, too. I stopped and looked at her sympathetically, so she told me, in Spanish, “I am not having trouble with all these steps, but I am beginning to suffer from claustrophobia…it’s so airless in here.” I uttered a few reassuring words to her (yes, in Spanish)…she calmed down, and we continued our ascent.

Well, when you step out onto the top terrace…aaaahhhh, the view just takes your breath away, and you forget about all those steps…the city of Florence is so amazingly gorgeous. Those who live here all the time tend to forget how lovely this city is, I think…I know that I do…


  1. i think it is like the statue of liberty for new yorkers…it is always there so you never quite get around to going. in august 2001 i was with visitors to new york and we were deciding between the twin towers and the staten island ferry…and thought the boat ride on the sunny summer day was more appealing…standing exactly at ground zero we said, well they will always be there. this seems a lesson for all the good things in life to say and do now, always and forever now…because that is all that is certain that we can do. for you, for me, for everyone we love, for nancy.

  2. I was in Florence almost 40 years ago and saw the Duomo but didn’t take the time then to make the climb… a good reminder to do those things you think about doing then, because later may not make it possible.
    Beautiful pictures of a charming city!

  3. Glad to read of your Scottish blood Margaret.
    Belated Happy Anniversary and thanks for the ‘photos of Florence. I never got to the top of the Duomo.
    I’m working my way through all your blogs and links. Many many thanks for all your work. I wonder if you can help. I was diagnosed Asymptomatic MM on 23rd December 2009. Bloods stable so far but have now been given Bisphosphonates. (Bonefos) Have been doing research on these but I’m bamboozled with the stuff about side effects and when to take the pills. Have you covered these in your research?

  4. Belated happy anniversary, and many happy ones to come.

    Thanks to you I’ve been on curcumin for the past year. My oncologist is confused but agreeable, and my GI doctor, originally from India, is enthusiastic. I think it’s made a difference — but how do we know?

  5. Oh Margaret! You pics of Florence and the Duomo are absolutely gorgeous! Looks like a beautiful day for the climb! Glad you made it back safely!

  6. You mean to say the picture in your blog header right now is of the place where you live? Incredible!

    Also, happy belated anniversary! Glad Stefano suggested the climb.

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