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The Uffizi Gallery in Florence

A tour around one of the world's most important collections of art

Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi
The Palace was built by architect Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) in the mid-sixteenth century, in a period when Cosimo I de Medici, then Grand Duke of Tuscany, was consolidating his power.
 
The Uffizi building was indeed originally intended to house the “Uffici”, offices of the magistrates (hence its name). Nevertheless, since its origins, the Medici, a dynasty of great art collectors, allocated some rooms of the top floor of the building to display the best pieces in their collection.
 
Two centuries later, thanks to the generosity of Anna Maria Luisa, last member of the Medici dynasty, such works became public property. The museum is located on the rooms of the third floor of the building. Here, are displayed, in chronological order, paintings from the 14th  to the 19th  century. Particularly important are the works dating from the Italian Renaissance period, the focal point of the Uffizi Gallery’s collection.
 
Not to be missed are the important foreign sections of the Uffizi collection also (comprised of German, Flemish, Dutch and French paintings). Besides the paintings, the three corridors with frescoed ceilings, which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, house an important collection of sculptures from the roman age (portraits, emperors and gods).

On the ground floor, there are the remains of the ancient Romanesque church of San Piero Scheraggio, partially destroyed by Vasari during the building of the Uffizi.
 
On the second floor, there is the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, which includes one of the most important collections of sketches and designs in the world.
 
Once you arrived on the Gallery floor, the museum route suggested, by the disposition of the rooms, takes you immediately to the altar pieces by CimabueGiotto and Duccio di Buoninsegna, the first important representations of western painting. Following these are works by the great Siena artists of the 14th century: Simone Martini and the brothers Piero and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Further down along the route are the followers of the imposing Giottesque tradition. Continuing along the path are some important works in the international gothic-style: the Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano and the one by Lorenzo Monaco.
 
The most representative rooms of the museum are the ones dedicated to the first renaissance period: they contain works by Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Domenico Veneziano, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico.
 
The tour continues with the elegant Madonnas by Filippo Lippi, precious panels by the Piero brothers and Antonio del Pollaiolo, and the allegoric mythological representations and deeply religious works of Sandro Botticelli. The Gallery owns the most important collection in the world of Botticelli’s masterpieces, among which are the Birth of Venus, the Primavera, the Madonna del Magnificat and della Melagrana. 

After Botticelli, the route leads to Perugino, Signorelli, Piero di Cosimo and Leonardo da Vinci. In this room, you can admire da Vinci’s Baptism of Christ, completed with the collaboration of Maestro Verrocchio, the great Adoration of the Magi and the Annunciation.

The rooms that follow (from n. 18 to n. 23) are the oldest in the museum: The Tribuna certainly deserves a stop. One marvels at the great artistic value of this place, in which the most precious objects and works of art were once showcased. Among others, the Tribuna currently contains a collection of medicean portraits by Agnolo Bronzino and the most famous ancient sculpture in the world, the Venere dei Medici. The following room, once used by the armory, continues on the renaissance path, showcasing both Italian artworks from Bellini, Giorgione, Mantegna and Coreggio, and foreign Renaissance paintings from Dürer, Cranach, Memling. 

The rooms on the west side of the Gallery contain masterpieces dating back to the sixteenth century, starting from the Tondo Doni by Michelangelo, to the Madonna del Cardellino by Raffaello, to the Venere by Urbino and the Flora by Tiziano. There is also a rich selection of works by mannerist painters, like Pontormo, Rosso, Fiorentino, Bronzini, and works by Parmigianino (Madonna dal collo lungo), and by the great Venetian masters, Sebastiano del Piombo, Veronese, Tintoretto, and the Lombard Savoldo and Moroni.

Until not long ago, the Gallery path ended with works from the 17th  century Italian school (School, Carracci) and Dutch (Rembrandt). But in recent years, the end section of the museum has undergone extensive restoration following the terrorist bombing in 1993. Renovations are also in view of the plans underway to extend the gallery to the lower floors, which until recently were used to hold the State Archives.

There are plans to double the size of the Galleries, meaning more of the works in storage can be displayed.  

The east end of the ground floor, there will be welcoming facilities for visitors and a bookshop, with spaces better suited to receive the great number of visitors that every year visit the Uffizi Gallery. The visit to the Gallery could also potentially follow another direction: either through the famous Vasari Corridor, built by Vasari, in 1565, which unites the Uffizi to the Palazzo Vecchio, or by crossing theArno River, through the Ponte Vecchio, to Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Garden. Recently restored after the terrorist attack, the Vasari Corridor contains a collection of over 700 artworks, among which, a big part of the famous collection of self-portraits (from Andrea del Sarto to Marc Chagall). This section can only be accessed by guided tours and advanced bookings.

At the end of 1998, the Donazione Contini Bonacossi, kept since 1974 in the Palazzina della Meridiana of Palazzo Pitti, was moved to the Uffizi, with temporary access from Via Lambertesca. In includes thirty-five paintings, 12 sculptures, eleven coats of arms and an important selection of antique furniture and ceramics, all part of the prestigious collection of Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, one of the most important of its kind in Italy. Following extended negotiations with Bonacossi’s heir, the collection is now owned by the State, and is without any doubt the most important addition to the Uffizi Gallery. Part of it is comprised of works accredited to Cimabue and Duccio.
 
There are also the great tables by Sassetta and Giovanni del Biondo, a fresco by Andrea del Castagno and a superb collection of Venetian school paintings (Veronese, Giambellino, Tintoretto, Cima da Conegliano). Among the sculptures, of particular importance is the San Lorenzo, a work executed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in his early years.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Piazzale degli Uffizi 6, Florence.
Telephone: 0552388651
Admission fee: € 6.50
Note: Bookings can be made by calling Firenze Musei, tel. 055294883. A € 3,00 surcharge will be applied.
Opening Hours: Sundays and public holidays: 8:15am – 6:50pm. The ticket office closes 45 minutes prior to the closing of the museum.
Weekdays: 8:15am – 6:50pm. The ticket office closes 45 minutes prior to the closing of the museum.
Closed: Mondays 

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