Little did Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, know when he commissioned the great architect Giorgio Vasari to create a set of offices for the Florentine magistrates, that the palace would ultimately become one of the finest and best-known art galleries in the world, the Uffizi .
Florenceís artistic pride and joy, the Uffizi Gallery stands just off the Piazza Signoria, where a copy of Michelangeloís David stares down towards the Arno River, daring invaders to do their worst. It is a cultural treasure trove, chock-full of paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, housed in a building as spectacular as the art it holds, and a must-see for anyone visiting the city. But with over 1.5 million visitors each year and many hundreds of paintings, a trip to the Uffizi can be a little daunting. Hereís how to get the most from your time there.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most important in the world for Renaissance art, housing works by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Raphael, and is an unforgettable experience for art lovers. Even those less familiar with art history will recognise many masterpieces and be inspired by their surroundings. To recharge your batteries, head up to the rooftop cafÈ, which has fresh air and glorious views.
What are the highlights?
The Uffizi is laid out chronologically across its 45 rooms, largely over a single floor, and many visitors choose to focus on a particular artist or period instead of trying to take in everything at once. Be sure not to miss Botticelliís Birth of Venus and La Primavera, Titianís Venus of Urbino, and Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael. You can also advance book special tours of the Vasari Corridor, which joins Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace.
How do I get there?
The Uffizi is simple to find and best reached on foot (it is about ten minutes from the Santa Maria Novella rail station). Head for Piazza Signoria and, facing Palazzo Vecchio, turn right into Piazzale degli Uffizi.
When to go?
In order to enjoy it properly, you should allow at least half a day at the Uffizi Gallery, although you may wish to return more than once over the course of your stay. Avoid weekends, and between 11am-3pm if possible, and be aware that the summer months are extremely busy, with a queuing time of several hours. Advance booking is always recommended. The Uffizi is closed on Mondays.
Tips & advice
- Book as early as possible online to avoid queues (telephone booking can also be a hassle). If you decide to book on the day, arrive when the gallery opens at 8.15am.
- Head straight for the top floor on arrival, where youíll find many of the most famous paintings.
- Book a tour or purchase an audio guide at the entrance ñ itís a great way to enjoy the Uffiziís collection without getting gallery burn-out.