Get up close to Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Secret Terraces with Ciao Florence!

The Duomo is the heart of Florence. A remarkable and imposing church topped by one of the most famous domes ever created. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and finished in 1436, it’s the largest masonry dome in the world.

While the view of Santa Maria del Fiore is impressive from the outside, it pays to climb the stairs to the cupola to see all those frescoes up close, and marvel at the view over Florence from the top. Now you also have the chance to step out onto the Cathedral’s Secret Terraces, which for years have been off-limits to visitors.

There is a tour that opens up all of this to you in one wonderful experience: the Small Group VIP Duomo Florence Tour: Brunelleschi’s Cupola and Secret Terraces.

secret terraces tour florence cathedral
Photo by Ilya Orehov on Unsplash

Experience Florence Duomo & its Secret Terraces

What makes this tour special? The possibility to access places many other tours don’t go. Accompanied by a very knowledgeable tour guide, you’ll learn about the fascinating history of the church and explore it in all its details, starting from its ancient crypt to the dome’s highest point. As if that’s not enough you’ll also get to see one of the most stunning views over the rooftops of Florence. A view that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it!

Discover the hidden terraces

Ascending 153 steps, the tour takes you to the hidden Northern Terrace, about a third of the way up to the cupola. This is an unmissable opportunity that gives you the chance to see the Cathedral and Dome from a different perspective. You’ll leave the crowd behind you as you step onto this special rooftop terrace – one that the majority of tourists don’t know about.

As part of this VIP tour, your experienced guide will explain how Brunelleschi approached the building of the Cathedral Dome which was one of the great engineering masterpieces of the age, built entirely without scaffolding. Incredible to think that it took him only 16 years to create this phenomenal structure that still captures our imagination today.

Once you’ve seen the terraces, you’ll have the chance to discover another exclusive highlight of the church, the Circular Room, which is accessible only with this tour. Here you’ll come face to face with the huge statues that were once part of the external decoration of the Cathedral’s façade.

Skip the line and access Brunelleschi’s Cupola

At this point, once your guide has turned you into an expert on the Cathedral, you’ll be ready to carry on to the top of the dome yourself.  And the best part is, you won’t need to wait in any long queues to do this as you’re already inside.

Climbing the 310 steps from the terrace to the top you’ll go past some stunning frescoes of the Last Judgement by Vasari and Zuccari. Covering some 3,600 square meters, it’s one of the world’s largest fresco cycles, and a masterpiece of the mannerist tradition.

At the top of the cupola, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest panoramas of Florence there is. Once you’ve got your breath back you’ll have the chance to gaze over the red rooftops of Florence and take some hard-earned selfies.

Another great spot to enjoy panoramic views of Florence is Piazzale Michelangelo; definitely worth going if you get the chance.

Guided tour of Santa Reparata Crypt

As part of this tour your guide will take you on a visit of the ancient crypt beneath the Cathedral. A major archaeological dig under the structure revealed the remains of various ancient buildings, including the Basilica of Santa Reparata, dating back to early Christian times (most likely 5th century). This basilica would have been part of the most important religious complex in Florence.

The highlight is the poly-chrome floor mosaics with geometrical decorations, with a splendid peacock symbolising immortality. There are also remains of ancient Roman houses, some 14th century frescoes, and numerous tombs including that of Filippo Brunelleschi himself.

The guided visit allows you to dive into to different parts of Florence’s history dating back to its origins.

secret terraces tour ciao florence
Photo by SailkoOpera propria, CC BY 3.0, Collegamento

Get the VIP treatment

This is a popular tour for good reason. There’s no waiting around in queues and because you’re in a relatively small group, you’ll be able to experience the Duomo rather than just see it. It’s something every visitor to Florence should consider doing while they are there!

Check out this Day Tour from Florence to the Cinque Terre by CiaoFlorence!

=> Florence in a week: enjoy Florence with our 1-week itinerary.

Just so you know: this is a sponsored post produced with our partners CiaoFlorence. All opinions expressed in this post are our own 🙂