Florence's museums, palaces, and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. The most popular and important sites in Florence include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo's architectural genius. Wander some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross the Ponte Vecchio, and experience the "newest" area of Florence, the Oltrarno. Be sure to set aside time to see the vast and varied art collection housed in the Pitti Palace. When you grow weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors. Spend a day at the Boboli Gardens or climb the hill to the church of San Miniato al Monte to experience an enchanting view of Florence, Italy.
Florence and its magnificent treasures await your visit!
Exploring the glory of masterpieces from the past
Like a very precious treasure chest, the Uffizi Gallery will grant itself to visitors just a little bit at a time: from the initial uncertainty on where to get tickets, getting through lines to get inside and at the metal detector, then taking two flights of Renaissance-era stairs before you arrive at the actual entrance to the museum. Finally, the Gallery unveils its stunning frescoed ceilings and the start of its collections.
The museum is organized as a long labyrinth of rooms with amazing works of art displayed roughly in chronological order along a U-shaped Renaissance building which was never created to be a museum. Cosimo de’ Medici had entrusted his favourite architect Giorgio Vasari to create a grandiose building right next to Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of power, to host the magistrates, the seats of the Florentine Guilds, a vast theatre and judiciary offices (hence the name “Uffizi” which means offices in Italian).
This is so you understand that these spaces were not "born" as a museum nor intended to welcome up to an average of 10.000 people a day, which they do now. The halls of the top floor of the Uffizi at first were only accessible to the Grand Ducal family, servants and only a few select guests where the family started to place the many pieces of their personal private collections. Guests were welcomed on the top floor to admire the grandiose collection of Roman sculptures the Medici loved to collect.
The art-fond Medici family also collected manuscripts, gems, coins and cameos over the centuries. With Francesco I, there is the first private room dedicated to items that were “any kind of wonder” which they thought were interesting objects. Buontalenti created for Francesco I an octagonal shaped Tribune to host his favourite works of art and jewels: the Tribune is considered the most ancient and precious heart of the Uffizi, still maintaining its original shape from its construction in 1584.
The concept of “museum” will be developed much later by Peter Leopold of the Lorraine in 1769, when he opens the Uffizi Gallery and its treasures to the public. He would have never imagined that it would become one of the most frequented museums in the world. Serious art lovers should visit the Uffizi at least twice to see all of it!