After loading up on the essential focaccia carbs at the Mercato Centrale in Florence, Peter and I headed to the Duomo, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori. A so-called “friend” had told us that climbing to the top of the Duomo was an experience not to be missed. What he forgot to share was that it was 463…very…steep…stairs to the pinnacle. By step number 462 I was thinking about defriending him on Facebook, isn’t that what people now do when they believe someone has done them wrong? But, then came step number 463.

Florence’s cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiori is hard to miss, not only because of it’s stunning architecture, but also because of the droves of tourists taking snapshots within a hundred foot radius.

I briefly worried if entering such a sacred place wearing black knee-high boots and jeans was a sin. But apparently, no one in the near vicinity minded my drab, somewhat hoochie attire and we freely walked into the exquisiteness of the inside cathedral. We were both honored to be able to light a candle (1,00 euro) for our grandmothers who had passed on. I was especially touched since this was my nonna’s native land.

We looked up and this was the masterpiece that awaited. I wanted to touch it. Not weird. Really. I think there is something meaningful about putting my grubby delicate fingers on a ‘piece de resistance’.

We paid 8,00 euros each for the soon-to-come agony of scaling the hundreds of stairs. Shouldn’t they be paying us? The first 150 were exhilarating. We cursed the next 312. We fell in love on step 463.

The reward.

On the way down the same set of stairs, Peter took way-to-much amusement telling each climber passing us that they only had 100 more stairs to go even though there were only fifteen. Boys.