Giorgio Vasari

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Uffizi Gallery – Florence

Florence - Uffizi Gallery - South View
Florence - Uffizi Gallery - hallwayFlorence - Uffizi Gallery - detailFlorence - Uffizi Gallery - night view

The stunning Renaissance Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery) is one of the most famous and old museums in the world.

When the building was designed it was meant to house the Florentine magistrates’ offices, from here the world Uffizi that in Old Italian mean offices. To realize his project in 1560 Cosimo I de’ Medici hired Giorgio Vasari, one of the most celebrated artists and architects of the time. It took more than twenty years to complete the building, other two architects were involved: Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti.

The idea of Cosimo I was to use the building partly for the administrative offices of the city and partly to display a selection of the family art collections. When Francis I became Grand Duke of Tuscany he asked Buontalenti to build the stunning Tribuna degli Uffizi in order to showcase an even bigger amount of art pieces. The unique collection displayed in the Tribuna became one of the principal attractions of the Grand Tour, a very popular trip of Europe among the European Upper-class.

The Medici Family art collections never stop growing; the building was remodeled many times in order to accommodate the new pieces of art. Vasari wrote that artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo where spending time in the Uffizi for inspiration.

When, after centuries of dominion, the Medici Family extinguished their stunning collections were donated to the city of Florence; the Uffizi was probably one of the first modern museums created.

Since the 16th century it was possible to visit the Uffizi Gallery by request, by the end of the 18th century the museum was opened to the general public. The collection is so vast that it is not possible to display every single piece of art; in the recent past some of the art works were moved in other Florence’s museum in order to be more appropriately showcase.

Things to see

The incredible number of art pieces are displayed chronologically; visitor can get lost admiring unique masterpieces like Giotto and Cimabue paintings, Masaccio and Piero della Francesca works or the famous and breathtaking Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli!

It is also possible to book a visit to the Vasari Corridor that connected The Uffizi Gallery with Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. Long over a kilometer the Corridor is embellished by 17th and 18th century paintings. The views of Florence from its windows are simply spectacular!

Today the Uffizi Gallery is among the most famous attractions of Florence with almost two millions visitors every year.

Piazza della Signoria

Florence - Piazza Signoria - particular
Florence - Piazza Signoria -  particularFlorence - Palazzo Vecchio - detail

Located in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Piazza della Signoria is a square with a long and rich history, originating as far back as the Roman period when the city was called Florentia. This L-shaped plaza boasts a large collection of sculptures and monuments such as the Fountain of Neptune, the statues of Hercules and Cacus, Cosimo I de' Medici's statue, and of course, a copy of Michelangelo's David (the original statue is kept in the Accademia Gallery of Fine Arts).

Palazzo Vecchio, originally called Palazzo della Signoria and therefore the originator of the plaza’s name, serves today as a museum and as the town hall of Florence. This impressive Romanesque fortress was built in the early 14th century to both protect the city magistrates and celebrate Florence’s power and importance. Its tower, Torre di Arnolfo, was a preexisting structure which was incorporated into the Palazzo’s construction, hence why the tower looks somewhat misplaced.

Things to see

On one of the corners of Piazza della Signoria is the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open air gallery with wide arches built in the late 14th century. Within it are examples of antique and Renaissance artworks such as Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus, Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women, and the Medici Lions.

Right nearby is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous museums in Italy, boasting a beautiful architecture and an impressive collection of various artworks. Built in the mid 16th century by the architect Giorgio Vassari to host the offices of the city’s magistrates, hence the name Uffizi, it was both an archive and a private gallery. It amassed an incredible wealth of art over the years and following the fall of the Medici family, the building was opened as a public museum in the mid 18th century.

A short walk from the Piazza della Signoria is Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge that spans the Arno River. This bridge is famous around the world for the shops build atop of it, most of which are still open today, though the tenants have changed from butchers and fishmongers to jewelers and souvenir sellers.