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Slight Disability- is climbing the Duomo in Florence possible

I have a slight disability (bad knee). I really want to climb the dome, and will be in Florence in late November. I know I can climb all 400+ stairs, but will be slow. Is that possible? Will others be able to get around me if I am too slow? One of my most memoriable trip scenes was climbing to the top of Ankor Wat at sunset and hearing the monks chant. While I dont suspect there will be monks chanting, pix show a fantastic view at the top of the Duomo.

Posted by
267 posts

If you can climb up and down the 463 stairs and are not claustrophobic, go for it! The stairway is very narrow, but you can flatten yourself against a wall and let people by if need be. If you go any later than first thing in the morning, the line will be long and slow enough by then that speed won't be a problem.The first time we went, we stood in the line that was stretched a distance outside, and the only reason we moved ahead was when people left the line. We eventually did the same, and returned the following morning a little after opening. We had a free go of it till 3/4 the way up when we finally caught up with the rest of the line. From there.... VERY slow going. The stairway at the top, the last 30 feet or so, is a "two way street": people going down compete with stairway space with those going up, and the final 10 steps is actually a one-way ladder. So it's a severe bottleneck at the very end. Combine that with not a huge amount of room for many people at the top, and you've got a sloooow moving line once it forms!!
DO beware that the stairway is very skinny, there are few windows, not a ton of light, and the ceiling is not far above your head. If you are claustrophobic, I wouldn't go. =-)

Posted by
1170 posts

If you are up to it, go for it. However, the stairway is very, very narrow and so you won't be able to stop along the way to rest or sit down. Others coming up behind you will not appreciate that. Try to go when the lines are shortest.

Posted by
1317 posts

I agree with John. It's quite narrow and there's two-way traffic near the top in a space only big enough for one person. This will actually work to your favor, as you may have to wait at the top (and rest!) while people coming the other way clear out.

Yes, you will probably hold up the line, so going when it's not crowded would be wise. We went Weds afternoon in late November, around 3:30 or 4pm and there were people but no line and I didn't find it crowded. However, don't worry about it if you do hold up the line. 400+ stairs is a lot for even the able-bodied and they might be happy for an excuse to go slower. I know I was!

P.S. The views are incredible indeed, but if you want to hear monks chanting, check out San Miniato.

Posted by
8293 posts

MaryL, maybe you should take into consideration what climbing up over 400 steps, and then coming back down those same steps, will do to your bad knee, and how that will affect the balance of your trip. Sometimes it is best to just accept that certain things cannot be done, hard as it is to do so.

Posted by
10344 posts

This is almost 1000 steps, up and down. With some time pressure from people behind you.

It's very easy for us to sit here in our chairs, not being attached to your knee, and say the supportive thing, which is go for it.

But do you have any previous experience climbing up and down a thousand steps, with people behind you? So that you have some factual basis for knowing what effect this could have on your knee for the rest of your trip?

Posted by
1201 posts

The problem I have with the duomo is that the steps are not particularly regular. The path is very narrow and the steps are not deep. You are in the space between the inner and the outer dome for a large portion of the trip.

coming down I remember being in spiral staircases that seemed to be bored throught the stones of the Cathedral. I remember my shoulders rubbing on both sides.

Perhaps the campanile might be easier, I think the steps are more regualr in it.