If you’ve been researching things to do in Florence, you’ve likely heard of the famous galleria there and the (perhaps more infamous) line to get in. There is a reason for a line at this world-renowned art museum—it is just that good. It is so spectacular that I have a yearly pass for it…and I live in Michigan (but go several times when I’m in the city)! The Uffizi Gallery is a treasure-trove of some of the finest art in the world. Its Renaissance collection alone is worth a trek to Florence. Although the collection is large, the museum itself is manageable for a half-day visit, but plan to spend several hours seeing the hallowed halls of these former Medici offices (a.k.a. uffizi).
History of the Building
Officially opened in 1765, the Uffizi Gallery had shown its holdings to visitors on request since 1591. The building was designed by Georgio Vasari at the request of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. Originally the building served as the administrative and judicial offices of the duchy of Tuscany. After Cosimo I moved his home from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti across the Arno River, he had Vasari create a corridor atop that would connect the three buildings together (and allow him to get from work to home unseen by the public and out of reach of would-be assassins). Francesco I (Cosimo I’s son) converted the upper floor of the Uffizi into a gallery to hold part of his vast collection of statuary, paintings, and other art. Thanks to the forethought of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (last member of the royal line of the House of Medici) who bequeathed the Medici art, the vast collection was to be left intact and in Florence for the rest of time.
Millions travel every year to the u-shaped building with a great courtyard in the center. This piazza is home to artists of various types and is a great place to get a caricature drawn, hear a violinist play…or watch people stand in line for tickets. Statues of illustrious artists, politicians, scientists, and other “greats” fill niches beneath the porticoes of the Uffizi Gallery. Wander around and visit Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo, Machiavelli, Dante, da Vinci, and more.
My Favorites of the Collection
Started with the Medicean collections, the citizens of Florence and patrons of the arts have grown the holdings from one family’s exquisite compilation into one of the most beautiful and discriminating art collections in the world. Statues and paintings line the halls—the rooms stemming off the corridors are thoughtfully designed and take one on a voyage through art history with masterpieces from the greatest artists of the ages. The building itself is beauty incarnate; make sure to look up, as I find the ceilings to be as stunning as some of the works.
I’m sure you will find something that tickles your fancy that isn’t on this list (and please share when you do), but here are my favorites:
- Copy of Laocoon statue at Vatican c. 1520s
- Cimabue—Maesta of Santa Trinita c. 1280-1290
- Giotto—The Ognissanti Madonna c. 1310
- Filippo Lippi—Madonna with Child and Two Angels c. 1465
- Pietro della Francesca—Duke and Duchess of Urbino c. 1467-1470
- Sandro Botticelli—Discovery of the Body of Holofernes; The Return of Judith c. 1470-1472
- Botticelli—Primavera c. 1482
- Botticelli—The Birth of Venus c. 1484
- Botticelli—Madonna of the Pomegranate c. 1487
- Leonardo da Vinci—The Annunciation c. 1475-1480
- Michelangelo—Doni Tondo c. 1506-1508
- Raphael—Self-Portrait c. 1506
- Titian—The Venus of Urbino c. 1538
- Caravaggio—Medusa c. 1596-1597
- Artemesia Gentileschi—Judith and Holofernes c. 1620
How to Buy Uffizi Gallery Tickets
The museum is an amazing place to visit and really shouldn’t be missed, but to avoid the infamous ticket line make a plan before visiting. Here are the various ways to reduce your wait time (although you’ll still have to go through security):
- Buy tickets online for a small additional fee (you can buy annual pass here too, as well as tickets for the Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens): https://www.uffizi.it/en/the-uffizi
- Go on a small-group tour. We recommend our friends at The Roman Guy. Their price is good and includes skip-the-line admission and a fun guide. Use our code ROAMING to save 5% on the tour price.
- Make reservation via phone—you’ll get a confirmation number and pay for your ticket there (note there is a fee for reserving by phone). Info & number here: https://www.uffizi.it/en/the-uffizi
- Firenze card–this is a three-day pass that allows you into most of Florence’s attractions with skip-the-line access. It is costly though, so make sure there are other things on the list that you want to see and add up the costs to make sure the value is worth it. A list of all the museums, prices, purchase points, etc. can be found here: http://www.firenzecard.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&lang=en
I hope you have a wonderful visit. Please let me know what you liked best.
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Disclosure: Roaming Historian will receive a small commission for tours booked with the code ROAMING.