We walked around the plaza in Florence, marveling at the Duomo, Baptistery and Giotto’s Bell Tower. From the outside of the tower, the feeling is that the building isn’t very big. It almost seems like the tower is dwarfed by the huge Duomo situated right next to it. I looked up some of the history of the Bell Tower and learned that it was built over time by a number of men who all tried to follow Giotto’s original plans while making some distinctive changes of their own. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Florence. i hope to have time to climb to the top of the Bell Tower and take in the view.
Giotto di Bondone began work on the bell tower in 1334. He was already 67 years old at that time. Giotto was a celebrated painter and now was the architect for the bell tower. However, he died in 1337, having only finished the lower floor. Giotto was succeeded as Master of the Works in 1343 by Andrea Pisano. Pisano was the artist who designed the Baptistery’s South Doors. He continued work on the bell tower and carefully followed the design that Giotto had been working from. Pisano went on to complete three levels and then construction was halted because of the outbreak of the Black Plague in 1348. Pisano was replaced by Francesco Talenti, who constructed the top three levels. Look at the large windows near the top. They are the work of Talenti. The bell tower was finally completed in 1359. Talenti did not build the spire on top of the bell tower, as Giotto had envisioned. That lowered the height of the bell tower considerably, reducing it to 85 meters, instead of the planned 122 meters.
The climb to the top requires a total of 414 steps and rewards you with a fantastic panoramic view of Florence.