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grosenb Mar 7th, 2007 12:55 PM

How difficult is the climb up to St Peters, Florence Duomo and Campanile in Venice for an 85 yr old if she already climbed up Notre Dame?
My 85 year old mother and I will be traveling to Rome/Florence/Venice shortly. Can someone tell me how difficult the climb is for St Peter's Dome, Florence Duomo and Campanile in Venice. We would love to climb up at all of these locations.

Last November she climbed the steps to the top of Notre Dame without any problems.

I trying to get a sense of the level of difficulty compared to Notre Dame.



camelbak Mar 7th, 2007 01:18 PM

The Duomo climb in Florence is a very, very tight fit, and can involve some twisting and turning around people trying to get up and down the stairs.

Here's my travelblog about my climb in 2005:

".... Now we were originally going to climb the Campinile, which is the tower that is in the Piazza with the Duomo, but eh....bite the bullet right? So off we headed over to the Cupola entrance to the Duomo. We were going to climb to the top.....and a climb it is.

All 463 steps..winding around and around and around....oh yeah...and around...always going up. The staircase not wide enough for two people to pass one another. Now..the great part of this climb is that at one part you come out..and you are at the bottom of the dome, in the Duomo and you look up and there is Michaelangleo's painting staring down at you. .....Then you look down...if you get the nerve, and you are staring right at the Duomo's main altar. You can walk around the entire perimeter of the ceiling and take as many pictures as your heart desires (as long as there is no flash) and stare at the wonder of the gigantic frescoe that painted by hand.

Anyways, then you go back into the stairwell and up, up, up, winding, winding, winding....then you come out..and you are even CLOSER to the ceiling.

Then back in the stairwell, and up, up up...then all the sudden you notice that the walls are sort of slanting inwards and you have to duck at some points to go under beams and under jutting walls, and come to this stairwell which is more like a ladder...and you can see a light at the top. So you climb, climb...and then hit another ladder..up the ladder and you break through and you are staring at all of Florence before you. And it is very, very far down. "

It was amazing...well worth the climb...but not for people of "large girth", or those with a weak disposition to small is a tight squeeze.

sandi_travelnut Mar 7th, 2007 02:07 PM

If memory serves me, and I'm not sure that it does, the number of steps up the tower of Notre Dame are more than St. Peters if you take the elevator to the roof level first of course. I must say however, that I've climbed the Duomo in Florence and the Arch in Paris and never had a problem with sore legs but the climb to the top of St. Peter's left me limping for 3 days. My calf muscles were screaming. I think the steps must have been just a bit taller in height.

She should go for it, at 85 I just hope I'm still around!

SeaUrchin Mar 7th, 2007 02:12 PM

So funny but in the movie La Dolce Vita they practically sprint up the stairs at St. Peters. Although a few paparazzi fall to the side, Marcello and Sylvia zip on up. I have always wondered if the scene was really shot in the stairs. Not that this will help you, grosenb, but maybe take a peek at the movie scene. Have fun.

JohnFitz Mar 7th, 2007 02:38 PM

My recollection of St.Peters is that I puffed a bit but I was about 40 .The steps get very narrow as you follow the curve of the Dome and got a bit tricky towards the top not unlike the Duomo in Florence . I loved doing it as on the way up and before you enter the dome section you can look down into the nave of the church and as luck would have it when I was there it was a major feast day and there was a procession of Cardinals and Bishops .So I got the most wonderful photos looking down on all the purple and red vestments with light streaming in from the dome .There is the option of an elevator service for all or part of it as well .

TravMimi Mar 7th, 2007 02:48 PM

I'm not usually claustrophobic, but it does get tight in those places. I also can walk for hours up an incline, but have trouble with steps, because of a knee problem, so I last about 4 stories. But they are so very worth it that I struggle up.

jody Mar 7th, 2007 03:33 PM

I want her secret!

NeoPatrick Mar 7th, 2007 03:37 PM

At St. Peter's the stairs inside the dome itself are not only very narrow, but they are on an angle. You can not walk upright, but must keep your body bent to the side at an angle. My back really ached on that walk. It might be a major concern.

Hagan Mar 7th, 2007 03:38 PM

I definitely wouldn't recommend it for an 85-year-old. The stairs are VERY narrowand steep, and I became very claustrophobic half-way through, even though I've never experienced this before. All I could think of was, if I collapsed, how could any emergency personnel reach me? It is very demanding. I am a physical therapist and work with the elderly, so I feel pretty safe in saying it's not very wise for a person of that age. Just my opinion, of course.

TravMimi Mar 7th, 2007 03:45 PM

Maybe I can explain myself better. It's not claustrophobia with me it's more like "confineophobia". I don't mind tight or small places, but I need to know that if I decide that I need OUT - NOW! I can get out NOW. That's really what bothers me about such place. If you're like that, you'll feel it.

jkstrouse Mar 7th, 2007 05:31 PM

As I recall, the campanile in Venice has elevator access only---no stairs, or very few. Hope you and your mom have a great trip!

sandi_travelnut Mar 7th, 2007 06:20 PM

They're not nearly as narrow and winding as the Duomo's though. I think if she can do that one, she can do this. Only she can say though.

grosenb Mar 7th, 2007 06:26 PM

Last time I was in Venice there was a long line for the Campanile. I thought everyone was climbing the stairs.

Were they waiting for an elevator?

Are there any resting places as you climb up St Peters? She was able to rest a few in the small alcoves of the stairwell in Notre Dame.

kismetchimera Mar 7th, 2007 06:32 PM

If your 85 years old Mom try to climb the stairs of Saint Peter, be ready to have a coffin ready.
Climbing Saint Peter is a murder for people half her age.

BTW, my compliments to your Mom.

rkkwan Mar 7th, 2007 06:38 PM

If you take the elevators to the roof of St. Peter's, the remaining climb isn't that difficult. The stairs are significantly wider than Florence, with modern handrails. Check out this photo, and the next two, in my album:

The climb up Florence's Duomo is <b>much much harder</b>. There's no elevators to take you half-way, and there are basically only two spots to rest. One is about 1/3 up, where there's some exhibit of original tools they used to build and maintain the roof.

Then you come to the gallery where you can look into the inside of the dome. That's about 60% of the way to the top. When you first get out to the gallery, make a left to the dead end where about 3 people can stand without blocking the main route. But that's about it.

One has to be pretty fit, regardless of age, to climb the Duomo. Try St. Peter's first, if she wants to do it.

rkkwan Mar 7th, 2007 06:44 PM

Let me add a couple of things. As you can see in my photos, the staircase is pretty wide inside St. Peter's. It is possible for others to squeeze by; so just stop and rest whenever one needs it. It is not the case for most of the climb up the Florence Duomo.

Second, you may see my father behind me in the pictures. Actually, he's a faster walker and climber than I am, and he's 70 when we went. He was behind me because he was stopping to videotape along the way.

rkkwan Mar 7th, 2007 06:48 PM

This is my mom ahead of me, on the last stretch up the Florence Duomo. I didn't have time or space to stop for photos earlier in the climb:

Next few pictures were from the top. Flornece was covered in snow. Very beautiful.

travelgirl2 Mar 7th, 2007 07:27 PM

The climb up St. Peter's was tough, narrow and winding up and up.

There were small alcoves where you could take a rest and let folks pass by. I know, because I rested in one with an Italian lady who wore a sleeveless shirt and rested her hand on the wall above her - leading to a major look of amusement on my boys' faces (at her hairy underarm)!

amyb Mar 8th, 2007 05:27 AM

Maybe you could opt for the campanile in Florence instead. I think it is close in difficulty to Notre Dame (I've done both, but not St. Peters or the Duomo in Florence). That way you get the bird's eye view of Florence AND the Duomo up close and personal!

And the Campanile in Venice is an elevator only. Go early as early as you can and on a beautiful sunny day. Stepping off the elevator and looking out over the Grand Canal is a highlight of my days in Venice.

grosenb Mar 8th, 2007 06:54 AM

Thanks everyone for your responses. You have given me enough information to help her decide if she wants to do the climb.

Looks like she can make the climb up St Peters as long as we take the elevator up the first part. The Campanile in Florence will be a better choice than the Duomo. The Venice Campanile will be a definite.

My mother is in great shape and she knows her limits. But she is not one to be a party pooper either! On our last trip, my sister and I said we are climbing, she went with us and never complained.

We are traveling at the end of April. I will write a trip report and let you know how she survived!


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