I don’t often believe in climbing up things when I’m playing tourist. I’m from New York and I’ve never been in the Empire State Building, and I never had any urge to go up the Eiffel Tower when I’ve been in Paris. However the view from the top of the cupola of Florence’s Duomo is a beautiful exception. In addition to the fact that the dome itself is an important piece of art and architectural history (it is the largest brick dome in the world, and was one of the first to be constructed in the Renaissance since ancient times), which makes it cool in its own way to be up there, the city is small enough that you can see and recognize many of its most important landmarks, each seeming just a hop away: il Palazzo della Signoria and the Galleria degli Uffizi, the Santa Croce cathedral and the green Arno, the Ponte Vecchio traversing it. And what struck me most was how close the legendary Tuscan countryside was to the heart of the city, those trademark cyprus trees and hazy green hills. Long story short, the many hundreds of spiraling stone stairs are worth it.