Italy: Tower of Terror Day 2

After the debacle at the medieval town earlier in the week, I was looking forward to climbing to the top of the Duomo, a huge church in the center of Florence. I knew there’d be no wispy almost-not-there mesh steps or ladders in this baby, so I happily paid for my ticket alongside my husband to climb the 463 steps to the top.

So we started up. There were lots of steps, but they were all sturdy stone ones with landings and windows every now and then. I could breathe in the fresh air from outside. I could take a rest on a landing until I caught my breath. It was quite pleasant.

But then at some point, the staircase turned into a spiral. Like a TINY spiral. With no windows. You’re climbing and twisting and climbing and twisting some more and getting super dizzy. There’s nowhere to rest. No windows to look out. No way to turn back. It’s just me and the spiral. And I’m starting to freak out.

But you can only go up. So up I go.

Finally the spiral staircase ends. I breathe a sigh of relief. We get to go inside the church and get a close-up view of the paintings within the dome. There are all kinds of angels and stuff, but there are also devils. Doing crazy things to people in hell. Like this:

I’m still a little freaked out, and the devils certainly aren’t helping.

And then I find out there’s still MORE to climb. And this time – I literally can’t even tell you how terrifying it was. A picture says a thousand words. So here is what I had to climb:

It’s kind of hard to tell from the photo, but THAT’S AN ALMOST VERTICAL CLIMB. Terror. To the nth degree.

Somehow I held it together long enough to climb up this, look at the devils even closer up inside the dome, climb down the vertical part and descend ANOTHER tiny spiral staircase until I reached the bottom and almost kissed the ground.

What I have begun to learn: Me + towers = badness.

Photos from Frans Vanderwalle and Robert Neff.

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