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How To Photograph Il Duomo, Florence

If you’re planning a photography trip to Florence soon, you’ll no doubt want to photograph Il Duomo, the city’s famous cathedral dome. Pro photographer Luka Esenko shares three of his favourite views of the imposing Renaissance dome which dominates this Tuscan city’s skyline.

If you’re planning a photography trip to Florence anytime soon, you’ll no doubt want to photograph Il Duomo, the city’s famous cathedral dome. Here pro photographer Luka Esenko shares three of his favourite views of the imposing Renaissance dome which dominates this Tuscan city’s skyline.
Here’s how to photograph Il Duomo, Florence
Luka writes “Firenze (Florence) is the main city of the Toscana region in central Italy. With its rich history and art, the city is a ‘must-visit’ for everyone, and the perfect location for a photography trip. For this post I’ve chosen to focus on one of the most striking landmarks of the city – the cupola of ‘Il Duomo’, the Cathedral. As you will see from the photos below, the cathedral with its dome stands out from the rest of the city ike a huge ship amid a sea of stone-washed walls and terracotta rooftops.
1) From Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo’s Square)
Photo by Luka Esenko – Location:  This is one of the most popular spots from which to photograph the Florence skyline and is therefore very busy. There are literally hundreds of people waiting for sunset to get the classic shot of the city skyline. The view is indeed magnificent; not only of the Duomo, but also across the whole city including some of the other sights, Ponte Vecchio, River Arno and the dome of the Florence synagogue. This is a classic sunset spot, but stay there for blue hour – the Duomo is beautifully lit and it really stands out of the sky skyline. I’ve never photographed from here at sunrise but I imagine it could be more relaxing as there will be much less people around. The best way to get up to the viewpoint is by taxi; driving in Florence can be an adventure in itself! It pays to arrive early to get your spot as later selfie stick crowds arrive and they usually have no sympathy for more serious photographers with tripods!   It’s well worth exploring the nearby area for alternative angles. You can also walk up to the San Miniato Abbey up the hill. Normal and telephoto lenses will be the most useful here.
2) From Campanile di Giotto (Giotto’s Bell Tower)
Photo by Luka Esenko – Location: This is another great location for incredible views of the dome of Florence’s Cathedral. To get the best shot from the Campanile di Giotto you will need to plan ahead. First, make sure you book your ticket to the bell tower online in order to guarantee your ticket. Secondly, check the opening hours to see if you can stay up there late enough for evening blue hour. This is possible in autumn and winter when days are shorter. The above photo was taken using a wide angle from the top of the bell tower. I used a mini tripod that I had in my backpack as I don’t think a regular tripod would be tolerated here. You could also place your camera on the stone fence – it is wide enough and stable. The climb up the bell tower is an amazing experience in itself; it’s not for the faint hearted as  there are 400+ steep and narrow steps to get to the top!
3) From Hotel Baglioni’s Terrace
Photo by Luka Esenko – Location: This is a lesser known location from which to photograph the Duomo. The view from Hotel Baglioni’s terrace is just stunning. You’ll be blown away as you step out onto the terrace and find the cathedral standing out in front of you – it’s magical! You don’t need to stay at the hotel but you will need to order drinks as a minimum or book a table for dinner in the restaurant above. It’s a fair price to pay for the exclusive views! What I love here is the mishmash of the roofs and chimneys in the foreground making the cathedral appear to pop out even more. This view is best for afternoon light or evening blue hour – it’s an ideal spot for sip’n’shoot! I know I said 3 top spots, but consider this one a bonus spot!
4) The Dome interior 
Photo by Luka Esenko – Dome interior One of the best things to do in Florence is to climb the steps up to the dome of the cathedral. It is an unforgettable experience as the stairs that lead you up and around the cupola to the top are very narrow (with two-way traffic!), but the views of the city at the top are incredible! My favourite part was a walk inside, just below where the actual dome starts and the best place from which to observe the stunning frescoes. My top tip; it pays to linger at the back of the group – this way you won’t be pushed ahead by crowds behind you and it will give you a few extra moments to marvel and photograph the fresco scenes! The views from the top are also spectacular . The Bell tower will be in front of you and, if using wide angle lens, you can use the dome as a foreground; a truly spectacular sight!” You can see more of Luka Esenko’s Tuscany images and find out about his photography workshops around Slovenia, the Adriatic and Italy by visiting his website.

2 replies on “How To Photograph Il Duomo, Florence”

A very concise description which will help any photographers a lot. As time is normally very limited when visiting these very popular locations would love some of these write ups in and around Slivenia

Extraordinary photos Luka. I did not know about the Baglioni’s Terrace, so thank you for this tip. I have been to the Piazzale Michelangelo along with a myriad of tourists, of course. Appreciate your sharing. I don’t seem to get any of your Dad’s photos, I use to see them and love his bird pics. Cindy

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