Florence Campanile - Table of Contents

Florence Campanile (Bell Tower)
Florence, Italy


Begun in the 11th century and finished, in the decorative parts, two centuries later.


  • Giotto di Bondone, who worked on it for three years, from 1334 to the date of his death
  • Andrea Pisano, up to 1348
  • Francesco Talenti who finished the work in 1359


Tuscan Gothic

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on photos for larger view

The Cathedral and the Campanile

The Cathedral and the Campanile

The Campanile

Visitors can climb to the top
of the Bell tower (414 steps)
for a view of Florence

The Florence Campanile stands apart from the Cathedral in the Italian tradition. In fact. it could stand anywhere else in Florence without looking out of place; it is essentially self-sufficient.

Like the facade of San Miniato al Monte, the building's surfaces are ornamented in the old Tuscan fashion, with marble-incrusted geometric designs to match it to the eleventh-century Romanesque Baptistery of San Giovanni nearby. Beyond an occasional ogival (pointed arch) window and the fact that the nave is covered by rib vaults, very little identifies this building as Gothic.

In contrast to Gothic churches in France and other non-Italian countries, this Gothic structure does not force the viewer's eye to the heavens above. Neatly subdivided into cubic stages, Giotto's tower is the sum of its clearly distinguished parts,

Not only could this tower be removed from the building without adverse effects, but each of the component parts - cleanly separated from one another by continuous, unbroken moldings - seems capable of existing independently as an object of considerable esthetic appeal. This compartmentalization is reminiscent of Romanesque but it also forecasts the ideals of Renaissance architecture to express structure in the clear, logical relationships of its component parts and to produce self-sufficient works that could exist in complete independence.

The tower is a many colored marble parallelepiped held at the foot by powerful pilaster strips.

Vertically it is divided into three parts the first two of which are divided in two by a cornice: the lower part is ornamented by sculptures, the middle part has two sets of two-light mullioned openings superimposed on each other, while the top part has a three-light mullioned window under a high crown resting on consoles.

The progressive widening of the openings gives a light aspect to the whole tower which is 82 meters high. The source of inspiration of the relief, informs us of the religious, moral and social idea of the early 14th century: from the sins of forefathers, work is born, carried out by men under the capricious influence of the planets; but there is also the possibility of salvation, by means of Virtue and the Sacraments.


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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