One of the best and most famous art galleries in the world, the Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) is Florence’s greatest jewel. A fitting memorial to the town’s importance as the cradle of the Renaissance, this art museum contains one of the greatest collections of paintings in existence.
The long arcaded buildings which house the gallery were designed by the artist Giorgio Vasari for Grand Duke Cosimo (of the Medici family), and were intended for use as offices (this is where the name Uffizi originated). As well as the paintings which tourists travel the world to see, the Uffizi also houses a good collection of Greek and Roman statues, including the once-revered Venus de’ Medici.
The collection is arranged chronologically, with rooms themed around periods, individual artists or schools. This enables the visitor to trace the course of art from the thirteenth century, through the roots of the Renaissance, past the greatest flowerings of Florentine art and on through Mannerism and up to the eighteenth century. Along the way you will see some of the greatest masterpieces by history’s greatest artists, many of them working here in Florence. The most beautiful works here include Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, and Giotto’s Madonnas. But with a list of artists that reads like a Who’s Who of art, visitors will be spoiled for choice as they pass works by Cimabue, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Uccello, Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Lippi, Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, Michelangelo, Perugino, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio and so many more.
The worst things about the Uffizi are the crowds and the authorities’ lamentable habit of closing rooms with excuses such as ‘staff shortages’. However, you cannot possibly visit Florence for the first time without seeing the Uffizi, and the quality of its art makes up for the inconveniences. Allow yourself plenty of time to view your favourites, to wait until tour parties move on and to absorb the paintings at your leisure.
If a special exhibition is being mounted you may have to pay extra (regardless of whether you want to see the exhibition or not). The Uffizi is part of the Polo Museale Fiorentino, the town’s group of state museums, and offers free entry to European Union citizens under 18, and reductions for those aged 18-25. Booking fees still apply.
The Uffizi is closed on Mondays, and on the 1st January, 1st May and 25th December. The opening times are 8.15am – 6.50pm.
The gallery is located in the centre of Florence, just off Piazza della Signoria and close to the Ponte Vecchio.
Artists were frequently known by the name of their birthplace, or by a nickname. In the English-speaking world, they are sometimes known by Anglicised versions too, which can make it confusing looking in Italian galleries and brochures. Here’s a quick guide:
Raffaello Sanzio – Raphael
Michelangelo Buonarroti – Michelangelo
Michelangelo Merisi – Caravaggio
Guido di Pietro – Il Beato Fra Giovanni Angelico da Fiesole – Beato Angelico – Fra Angelico
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi – Sandro Botticelli
Paolo di Dono – Paolo Uccello
Tiziano Vecellio – Titian
Ambrogio Bondone – Giotto
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