When Cathy visited, it was something she really wanted to do, and I had agreed. Cathy’s brother, Chris, and his girlfriend Reagan, joined us. Other of my friends had done it without me, my excuses being listed above and I also added the claustrophobia factor as well.
We got up early one morning to be there at 8:30 a.m. when it opened. Cathy's brother Chris and his girlfriend Reagan came with us. This way, we avoided the crowds, and it was cooler. I think everyone was glad about that. We went right in and started to climb. The stairs are narrow and curvy, and get more narrow and like a cork screw the higher you get. I would have been very claustrophobic if it had been hot, and more people because on some parts of the narrow staircase, people are going up and down, and you have to pause in the concrete narrow corridor and let them pass.
Thankfully, and unexpectedly, there are a couple of "resting spots" on the way up. The first is a large portico that houses some of the sculptures that have been taken off the outside of the duomo for restoration, etc. You continue to climb, and then come to a railed balcony surrounded by plexiglass that gives you a view of the inside paintings of the dome. After climbing some more you come to a second balcony that is in the middle of the paintings, and the view is spectacular, as you can see all of the details
When you get to the top, the stairs are extremely steep, but the climb onto the roof, is worth it! There lies Florence at your feet and you are at the highest spot in the city. It was incredible and worth it!