Six years ago today I was in Florence, Italy. The city is considered by some to be the birthplace of the Renaissance and is home to many great attractions including the duomo (cathedral) with its soaring dome that was completed in 1436. Designed by Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome of the Florence duomo was the first dome in Europe to surpass the size of the dome of the Pantheon in Rome and to this day remains the world’s largest dome that is primarily made of brick. Inside the dome that you see on the outside of the duomo is smaller dome that you can actually climb up to reach the top of the dome. The line for going up the dome is normally long and slow moving, so you need to get in line before the dome opens to avoid standing around for 2 hours or more during peak tourism season. As you climb the inside of the dome you can admire Brunelleschi’s designs and see some of the tools his laborers used to build the dome, and once at the top you’ll have a commanding view of the entire city. Alternatively, you can get another great view from the doumo’s adjacent bell tower, which is where I took the photo in today’s post. Personally I think the view from the bell tower is better than the one you get from the dome, mainly because you get the great view of the dome that you see in the above picture, and there’s the added benefit that the line for the bell tower is normally shorter and moves faster than the line for the dome. When I was most recently in Florence in 2015 there was a mandatory combo ticket that included both the dome and the bell tower, so if that combo ticket is still the only game in town then you might as well climb both. After all that climbing you’ll definitely have earned yourself some gelato, which is another thing Florence is famous for. While just about all the gelato you’ll find in Florence is good, the best stuff is on the south side of the Arno River, away from most of the tourist attractions. I personally recommend a place called La Carraia.