One of the four main monuments on Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square, Giotto’s Bell Tower is a beautiful 14th-century Gothic building that’s both a landmark in its own right and a great spot to observe the rest of Florence. Standing tall at 85 metres, the bell tower is topped with a terrace that gives unrivalled views of the city.
What’s in this guide?
- What to see at Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Giotto’s Bell Tower history and facts
- Restaurants, bars and shops
- Opening times and ticket prices
Getting to Giotto’s Bell Tower
Once you’re in the city centre, you can easily reach Giotto’s Bell Tower on foot. But if you’re coming from further afield, you can take advantage of Florence’s public transport network.
To spare you the walk, we’d suggest taking the bus, which will take you right to the landmark. You’ll need to get off at one of these stops:
- Santa Maria Nuova
- Picci Duomo
- Santa Maria Maggiore
Take note of these stops, as they’ll also get you within walking distance of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Piazza del Duomo.
What to see at Giotto’s Bell Tower
Although technically part of the cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower is detached from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. This means the tower can be appreciated in all its glory without being overshadowed by the impressive cathedral and its dome. Here are the key features to look for when admiring this beautiful landmark.
The bell tower’s exterior
When you’re outside the bell tower, make sure you study the beautiful decorations. These aren’t just a finishing touch, as the decorations were an integral part of plans for the building. So, take some time to observe the depictions before you head inside.
Clad in white, red and green marble, matching the cathedral, the tower exterior features some really intricate details. The lower floors focus on the concept of Universal Order whilst also telling the story of the Redemption of Mankind. The key themes you’ll spot on the exterior follow the story of The Creation of Man, including the planets that influence us, the virtues that give us strength, and the liberal arts that educate us.
Look up to the second floor, and you’ll count 16 life-sized statues, all of which are created by 14th and 15th-century artists, including Andrea Pisano and Donatello. Unfortunately, these have now been replaced with copies to protect them from damage. However, the originals can be seen in the cathedral’s museum, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
Giotto’s Bell Tower’s terrace
Of course, the highlight of Giotto’s Bell Tower is its terrace. Here, you’ll find a rooftop where you can admire Florence’s beauty in panoramic glory.
It’s important to note that it’s quite a climb up to the terrace, over 400 steps in fact, and there aren’t any lifts. This, unfortunately, means it isn’t accessible to all.
The tower bells
Of course, Giotto’s bell tower wouldn’t be complete without a set of bells, and there are 12 in total; five aren’t in use, but seven are active and used today. The largest of these bells is called Santa Reparata, named after the saint of the original church, which was demolished to make room for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The remains of the Santa Reparata church can be seen within the current cathedral.
Giotto’s Bell Tower history and facts
The history of Giotto’s Bell Tower takes us back to the 14th century when construction started in 1334 by Giotto di Bondone. Giotto could only work on the tower for three years until his death, meaning another architect needed to take over.
Andrea Pisano carried on with the build, with only the first part completed. He constructed two levels decorated by various artists, including Alberto Arnaldi. Although, for the most part, he stuck to Giotto’s original designs, he was able to put his stamp on the tower by swapping the planned bas-reliefs for 16 niches. These were designed to hold statues of Kings, Sibyls and Prophets, which included Donatello’s depiction of the Sacrifice of Isaac, considered to be the best example of a 15th-century naturalist sculpture.
Completing Giotto’s Bell Tower
Construction came to a halt during the Black Plague, with Florence being one of the worst-hit cities in Europe. Francesco Talenti then took over the project and completed the tower in 1359.
Talenti made drastic changes to the original plan, mainly designing large windows on the upper levels. With no windows included on the lower floors, this helped bring much-needed light into the tower. He also added the terrace, which helped ensure the bell tower became such an iconic Florentine landmark.
Today, Giotto’s Bell Tower is a popular tourist hotspot at Piazza del Duomo. Visitors can admire the Florentine Gothic architecture and get a fantastic 360 view of the beautiful city.
Restaurants, bars and shopping near Giotto’s Bell Tower
What’s excellent about Giotto’s Bell Tower is that plenty of Florence’s top landmarks can easily be reached on foot once you're there. In fact, these are all within a ten-minute walk:
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Piazza del Duomo
- Piazza della Repubblica
- Piazza della Signoria
- Palazzo Vecchio
- Ponte Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Statue of David
Iconic landmarks aside, all the amenities you need are also on Giotto’s Bell Tower’s doorstep. Here are our top picks of nearby restaurants, bars and shops.
A dining experience can be the source of many a precious holiday memory. Of course, being in Italy, you can expect some world-class restaurants in Florence. If you’re planning on eating after visiting Giotto’s Bell Tower, find a restaurant that will deliver beautiful Tuscan cuisine.
Trattoria dall’Oste Chianineria: Ideal for the meat-eaters, this steakhouse prides itself on working with the best cuts on the market. You can choose from the renowned Wagyu or try out some local Italian beef. What’s more, it’s only 3 minutes from Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Trattoria Mario: Just over 5 minutes from the tower lies Trattoria Mario. Established in 1953, this restaurant is a traditional family-run business. The menu differs every day but will always feature their speciality, Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Konnubio: This Michelin-starred restaurant is only a 3-minute walk away. Whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch or dinner, expect the same level of exceptional cooking. Here, you’ll experience a creative take on Italian cuisine in a relaxing atmosphere.
Once you’ve climbed all 400 steps to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower, you might fancy a nice drink to unwind. Luckily, there are many bars nearby, where you can try some Florentine drinks.
Mayday Club: A 3-minute walk from Giotto’s Bell Tower, you’ll find Mayday Club. This quirky cocktail bar is packed full of character and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Go here for a classic cocktail, or even try out the microbrews they have on tap.
Vigna Nuova Enoteca: With over 500 labels to choose from, you’re sure to find your perfect wine match at Vigna Nuova Enoteca. Located just 10 minutes from the tower, you can enjoy a glass of wine while you mull over one of Florence’s best landmarks.
Enoteca Sei Divino: You'll find another excellent Florentine wine bar on the same street as Enoteca Vigna Nuova. A popular choice in Florence’s wine scene, those who love to try out different labels should visit this bar. The bar also hosts regular live music, making it a great place to finish your evening.
Florence’s quaint streets are filled with charming shops, selling everything from designer labels to souvenirs for loved ones. Here are our top shopping streets that you’ll find near Giotto’s Bell Tower.
Via Roma: It may not be the most prominent shopping street in Florence, but via Roma has plenty to offer those looking to spend a euro or two. Quite literally around the corner from Giotto’s Bell Tower, shops to look out for include Luisa, whose window displays are always worth a visit. Alongside Luisa, you’ll also find all your favourite high-end brands here, including Armani.
Via dei Calzaiuoli: If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the luxury brands, via dei Calzaiuoli houses all the familiar high street brands. This is an excellent place for some retail therapy after an afternoon filled with sightseeing.
Opening hours and ticket prices
Giotto’s Bell Tower is open from 08:15 to 19:45 every day. To enter, you’ll need to buy one of the passes for the cathedral monuments. The Brunelleschi, Giotto and Ghiberti passes are the three you can choose from.
We’d recommend going for the Brunelleschi pass, as this will give you access to all the famous cathedral landmarks:
- The Baptistery of San Giovanni
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
- Giotto’s Bell Tower
- Brunelleschi’s Dome
- Opera del Duomo Museum
A Brunelleschi Pass costs:
Children aged 7-14
Children under 6
Travelling by train to Florence?
It's easy to travel by train to Florence from many destinations in Italy. Trenitalia and Italo offer high-speed services that run up and down the country, taking you from Rome to Florence in just 1 hour and 17 minutes, Bologna to Florence in just 37 minutes and Milan to Florence in just 1 hour and 50 minutes. Want to find out more about train travel in Italy? Check out our guide to trains in Italy.