Sightseeing and claustrophobia are not friends.
The ancient walls of the Duomo were cool beneath her hands, littered with graffiti that spanned decades. The steps were close and tight, curling up and up into the side of the enormous historical building, and together they marched doggedly up the steps.
Amy stared at the steps before her and tried not to think about the size of the staircase. Or the ancient bones of the building arched above her, just waiting to topple. Her legs burned and she shed her jacket the further they climbed; what was good in the icy temperatures outside was decidedly less so in the confines of the famous Florentine landmark.
“How much further? I’m dying here,” she panted, still putting one foot in front of the other, determined.
“Not much further – I see light,” said Jim above her. “Oh no, wait – it’s just the dome interior. Half way.”
Half way? Amy thought incredulously. That’s still another two hundred goddamn steps!
They spilled out onto the narrow walkway, impelled silent by the sign by the door as they came out into the Duomo interior. Still breathing a bit heavily, Amy nevertheless stared in awed silence at the intricate artwork adorning the ceiling, lit by the dim golden light spilling in from above.
Snapping a few photos between them, they edged along the walkway to the opposite side, ducking through the doorway and continuing upwards over the interior dome.
Up and up they climbed, slower now as they tired, reaching three hundred steps, then four hundred. Finally, they reached the apex of the the interior dome, the exterior scant centimetres above their heads.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. A ladder? Now?” Amy said, taking a swig from her water bottle as they waited for the people ahead of them to disappear through the gap into the open air.
Clinging to the metal rungs of the ladder and accepting a hand out onto the rain-slick marble roof of the Duomo, Amy shuffled away from the ladder and stared out across the misty Tuscan landscape, Florence a yellow stucco and terracotta tile marvel even in the impending drizzle.
Okay, I take it back. four hundred and sixty three steps is definitely doable – and worth it, for a view like this.
Peering over the curved edge of the dome across the city, Amy felt the claustrophobia of the climb drop away, replaced by the adrenaline of being so high above the city.
Peering down, she frowned. Damn, climbing down is gonna suck. She slid slightly on the wet marble, heart in her mouth as she gripped the railing. Assuming I don’t accidentally take the short cut over the side to the pavement…