Things to do in Tuscany, Italy:
Consider the exercise stairmasters on steroids. Visiting the Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Il Duomo di Firenze, is not a complete experience until you see the city of Florence from the top of the dome. Climbing the Duomo provides insight into the cathedral, close-up of dome architecture, and, after 463 steps (there is no elevator), a glorious view of the city.
“It is easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better from the top.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
In its initial decades the cathedral had an enormous hole in the top, for no one seemed to have a viable idea of how to build a dome nearly 150 feet across. In 1418 the city of Florence announced a contest for the ideal dome design. The winner, Filippo Brunelleschi, promised to build not one but two domes, one nested inside the other, without elaborate and expensive scaffolding.
Brunelleschi’s Dome is a story of how a hot-tempered goldsmith/clockmaker with no formal architectural training reinvented Renaissance architecture. Originally denounced as a madman, Brunelleschi was eventually celebrated as a genius.
Source: National Geographic: Il Duomo
(Image left) View of Palazzo Vecchio while climbing the Duomo. Palazzo Vecchio the town hall of Florence, Italy, and is the main symbol of civil power for the city.