In 1334, Giotto started the cathedral bell tower but completed only the first two levels before his death in 1337. He was out of his league with the engineering aspects of architecture, and the tower was saved from falling by Andrea Pisano, who doubled the thickness of the walls. Andrea, a master sculptor of the Pisan Gothic school, also changed the design to add statue niches—he even carved a few of the statues himself—before quitting the project in 1348. Francesco Talenti finished the job between 1350 and 1359.
The reliefs and statues in the lower levels—by Andrea Pisano, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, and others—are all copies; the weatherworn originals are housed in the Museo Storico dell’Opera (see below). We recommend climbing the 414 steps to the top of the tower; the view ★★ is memorable as you ascend, and offers the best close-up shot in the entire city of Brunelleschi’s dome. Queues are also much shorter than the often epic lines to climb Brunelleschi's dome itself (see below).