If you're planning on visiting Florence, you cannot skip the Uffizi gallery. In fact, if you're an art lover, this gallery alone is worth the trip to Florence. Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Chinese pottery, Roman sculptures and statues and many more treasures await you.
The gallery hosts many important classics from the gothic and renaissance period. It also houses Roman sculptures and Chinese artefacts. However, its claim to fame is being the most impressive and important collection of renaissance art. If that doesn't set your heart racing, wait until you see the gallery itself!
With over 2 million visitors a year, the most visited state owned art museum in Italy is a magnificent place built between 1560 and 1580, after a design by Giorgio Vasari, as a public administrative building. In fact, the name uffizi means offices in the old Tuscan language. The palace itself is a shining example of the glory of renaissance architecture. Who doesn't feel a shiver of excitement upon seeing such gorgeous buildings?
The Medicis collected the works in the collection. Lady Anna Maria Ludovica von der Pfalz, the last heiress of the house of Medici, bequeathed a small portion of the family's collection to Florence when she died in 1743. Her only condition was that the works may never leave florence. In 1769, the collection was transformed into a public museum. Many historians think the modern term gallery comes from the Uffizi's original galleria.
The reason the Uffizi gallery is one of the most important collections in the world is because it includes art from 1300 to 1500, showcasing the trend of western art, the transition from gothic, figurative, metaphorical representations to renaissance realism. The first half of the extremely popular collection takes us by the hand, leading us through a wonderland from gothic to renaissance until we arrive at the first modern painting.
The entire exhibition is all on one floor, the first half in chronological order from 1300-1500 so you can chart the path of art history. Then the gallery shifts. Paintings from 1500-1700 are grouped according to style, culture and school.
Room 2 showcases three paintings of the madonna, an intro to Renaissance art and the message of the uffizi as a whole. The first is a gothic painting from 1375, in the Byzantine style; stiff and aloof. The second is from 1385 and is already more fluid. The last painting by Giotto was painted in 1310 with brighter colours. It features the beginnings of representation of physical space, heralding his pyramidal structure that influenced art for centuries, being realistic and considering the eye of the subject.
Then we move on to Giotto's followers for example Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, here we see gothic starting to transition to new realism, postures are fluid but features are still ethereal.
Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration of the Magi (1423) is the climax of gothic art and the dawning of renaissance art. The painting incorporates perspective. We are shown how artists began observing and recording nature and beauty as is, rather than as they would represent.. We continue on to Veneziano, finding realistic light and shade, tone and shadow. The exhibition features works from Piero della Francesca moving on to Botticelli. The last pieces are from Da Vinci, having become very real and scientific, reflecting the enlightened and educated audiences they were painting for.
From here on the works become non chronological. The rooms themselves are beautiful works of art, from the octagonal design of one to the detailed marble tilings of others. It might be the pillars that catch your eye more than the paintings! You will feast your eyes on magnificent examples of Florentin architecture and the works of the greats such as Michaelangelo and Raphael and Rembrandt.
If you are planning to visit, and why would you not, make sure to skip the queues! With tour tickets you can stroll past the lines and walk straight in. Otherwise you'll be stuck queuing up for hours in the heat. Even if you haven't booked ahead or used a Florence tours pass, it's still worth a trip as you can buy tickets at the door. The Ufiizi is most crowded on weekends and Tuesdays so if you're on your own, a good idea would be to avoid those days. You might get lucky and not have to queue for too long. Another tip - the guidebook is more detailed than the audio tours.
Hopefully, you have been inspired to visit one of the most beautiful collections of the world's most beautiful art!
High - Average monthly high temperatures
Low - Average monthly low temperatures
Sun - Average hours of sunshine per day
Rain - Average monthly rainfall in mm