Giotto’s Campanile (Bell Tower) stands right next to the famous Cathedral of Florence. Climbing the Campanile, you have a beautiful view over the city itself, but above all a very close look over the dome of the Duomo. Note that you will have to climb 414 steps and that there is no lift.
Giotto’s Campanile Florence
Address, opening hours and admission (2020)
The address is Piazza del Duomo (Tel. +39 0552302885). The tower is open from 08.30 to 19.50 hours. It is closed at Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The 18 Euro combi-ticket includes Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista, the Crypt of Santa Reparata in the Duomo and the Museo Storico. (The Cathedral itself is free.)
Giotto started in 1334 with the construction of the campanile. When he died, in 1337, only the first two floors were completed.
The tower would have fallen down a long time ago if Andrea Pisano had not interfered, since Giotto was a great artist but a mediocre engineer and the walls had been designed far too thin. Pisano doubled the width of the walls and added a number of niches in which statues (some sculpted by himself) were placed.
Andrea Pisano was also responsible for the hexagonal terracotta panels with bas-reliefs adorning the walls.
Originally the second level was supposed to consists of panels with bas-reliefs. Pisano decided to create 16 niches instead, with statues depicting kings, Sybils, Patriarchs and prophets. Nanni di Banco and Donatello were responsible for these statues.
In 1350 Francesco Talenti started completion of the work, a.o. by giving the heavy base a lighter appearance. Construction finished in 1359.
The exterior of the bell tower is covered with red, white and green Tuscan marble slabs, like the Duomo next to it. The width of the campanile is around 14 metres.
The bell tower stands 84.7 metres tall. This is 6 metres shorteer than the dome of the cathedral. To get to the top you have to climb 414 steps. On the way you will have a nice view of the Baptistery. There is no elevator. The terrace at the top was Talenti‘s idea and replaced the spire that Giotto had planned.
The adornments on the outside of the bell tower are supposed to tell the story of mankind’s redemption. The first reliefs show first the creation of man and then his activities, fate, virtues, education and religion.
Today, the original statues and reliefs that decorated the lowest floors have been replaced by copies. The original works were placed inside the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in order to protect them from the elements. These include Donatellos‘s famous sculpture group “Sacrifice of Isaac”.