One of the great things about Florence on a Sunday is that the museums are free. However, you have to have a ticket to get in, and tickets for the Galleria degli Uffizi (which is “office” in Italian) sell out quickly. Not knowing all this turned out to be a good thing. When we finished taking pictures of several of the statues that decorate the exterior of the building—a series of famous Italians are mounted at the second story level, including DaVinci, Michelangelo, Galileo and Amerigo Vespucci—we approached a ticket-taker asking where tickets might be obtained. We were told they were out. “How many are in your party?” the agent asked in broken English.
Being alone for the afternoon proved fortuitous. He gave us a ticket!
One of the world’s top museums, the Uffizi features art from the Italian Renaissance. The building didn’t start out as an art gallery, though, but was commissioned by Cosimo Medici in 1560 as offices for the magistrates of Florence. As with any Italian building, it’s important to look up. The ceilings are works of art.
The top floor originally featured Roman sculptures and was a gallery for family and guests of the Medici. Now the entire floor, which forms the shape of a U, is lined with statuary. Those shown here are Venus, Leda, Apollo, Neriad on a Seahorse, Centaur and Pan, and Amore and Psyche.
Cosimo’s son, Grand Duke Francesco I, commissioned the architect Buontalenti to design the Tribuna deli Uffizi, an octagonal room to display series of masterpieces in one room, including jewels. Completed in 1584, it became a highly influential attraction of a Grand Tour. Although you can look into the room, you cannot go in as the entrances are cordoned off.
When the house of Medici died out, their art collections, including these two works by Botticelli (Birth of Venus and Primevera), were gifted to Florence by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress. In 1765, the Uffizi was officially opened for the public to tour, although visitors could request entry as early as the sixteenth century.
Renovations in modern times increased the number of rooms and the space for displays, most of it payed for by the Ferragamo family. (Shoes are their works of art.)
Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo has its own alcove.
Virtues by Botticelli and Antonio del Pollaiolo takes up an entire wall in one of the galleries. Pollaiolo’s La Carita is shown in close-up.
And what’s a gallery without a bunch of busts? Shown here are Constantine, Nero, Agrippa, Augustus, Titus, and Tiberius.
When we finally finished this masterpiece of a museum, we treated ourselves to a gelato. The museum’s restaurant is located on the roof of the Loggia della Signoria and has the most interesting view. We were told the man on the ledge is a temporary installation as he’s not real popular with the locals.
Although the light was starting to fade, we still had one more museum to visit before we were to join our tour guide for dinner. Next up: Palazzo Riccardi Medici.