Following his nomination as master of works on the construction of the new cathedral, Giotto began building the bell tower, a spectacular Florentine monument, which he did not, however, live to see completed.
When Giotto died, Andrea Pisano took over from 1337 to 1348, and when he too died, Francesco Talenti completed the work, presenting the city with a Gothic masterpiece just as we see it today.
Giotto's bell tower, 85 metres high and only 14 metres wide at the base, was built in just thirty years and cost the city seventy thousand florins. The Florentines were only too happy to pay to have, like their rivals Siena and Pisa, a monument which announced the city from afar. In that period the dome had not yet been built.
The three masters of works were also able to draw on the work of eminent artists to decorate the bell tower, artists of the calibre of Andrea Pisano, Luca della Robbia, and Donatello, who decorated it with sculptures and marble carvings.
The bell tower is completely clad in marble in three colours: the red marble of S. Giusto, the white of Carrara, and the green of Monte Ferrato.