Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery)
The Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi, Italian pronunciation: [ˌɡalleˈria deʎʎi ufˈfittsi]) (pronounced Uffitsi), is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world. Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name "uffizi" ("offices"). Construction was continued to Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns were filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.
The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour.
Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. According to Vasari, who was not only the architect of the Uffizi but also the author of Lives of the Artists, published in 1550 and 1568, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo gathered at the Uffizi "for beauty, for work and for recreation."
After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.
Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence — for example, some famous statues, to the Bargello. A project is currently underway to expand the museum's exhibition space by 2006 from some 6,000 metres² (64,000 ft²) to almost 13,000 metres² (139,000 ft²), allowing public viewing of many artworks that have usually been in storage.
In 1993, a car bomb exploded in Via dei Georgofili and damaged parts of the palace, killing five people. The most severe damage was to the Niobe room, the classical sculptures and neoclassical interior of which have been restored, although its frescoes were damaged beyond repair. The identity of the bomber or bombers are unknown, although it was almost certainly attributable to the Sicilian Mafia who were engaged in a period of terrorism at that time.
Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a substantially shorter wait.
In early August 2007, Florence was caught with a large rainstorm, and the Gallery was partially flooded, with water leaking through the ceiling, and the visitors had to be evacuated. There was a much more significant flood in 1966 which damaged most of the art collections in Florence severely, including the Uffizi.
Here is a selection from the collection of paintings:
Leonardo da Vinci (The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Magi)
Sandro Botticelli (Primavera, The Birth of Venus, The Adoration of the Magi and others)
Giotto (The Ognissanti Madonna, Badia Polyptych)
Titian (Flora, Venus of Urbino)
Michelangelo (The Doni Tondo)
Raphael (Madonna of the Goldfinch, Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi)
Simone Martini (The Annunciation)
Paolo Uccello (The Battle of San Romano)
Piero della Francesca (Diptych of Duke Federico da Montefeltro and Duchess Battista Sforza of Urbino)
Fra Filippo Lippi (Madonna with Child and Two Angels, Incoronation of the Virgin)
Andrea del Verrocchio (The Baptism of Christ)
Hugo van der Goes (The Portinari Triptych)
Piero di Cosimo (Perseus Freeing Andromeda)
Albrecht Dürer (The Adoration of the Magi)
Parmigianino (The Madonna of the Long Neck)
Caravaggio (Bacchus, The Sacrifice of Isaac, Medusa)
Artemisia Gentileschi (Judith and Holofernes)
Rembrandt Van Rijn (Selfportrait as a Young Man, Selfportrait as an Old Man, Portrait of an Old Man)
The Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi, Italian pronunciation: [ˌɡalleˈria deʎʎi ufˈfitts...
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360 degree panorama in Florence. Photo by Ilia Zakaraia, PANOTOUR.GE -Discover Georgia with 360 degre...
360 degree panorama in Florence. Photo by Ilia Zakaraia, PANOTOUR.GE -Discover Georgia with 360 degre...
Overview and History
Florence has been relaxing since the very beginning, when Julius Caesar adapted the location to serve as a home for veteran soldiers. Its name means "flourishing" and that's what it's been doing ever since.
If we can ignore that pesky evidence of neolithic rock-smashers, Florence has been occupied for about two thousand years.
Caesar wisely chose the intersection of two rivers for the location of Florence, for defensive purposes. Admittedly he was not the first person to think of this idea, but we'll let him have it for now.
The Arno and Mugnone are the rivers over which Florentines built their beautiful bridges, in order to have something else to decorate. See Ponte Veccio for illustration.
Like all Roman cities, Florence was originally rectangular in shape, bearing long straight roads with ninety degree intersections. The heart of the city was originally at the intersection where today, you will find the Piazza della Republica.
"Piazza" means plaza, not pizza. For my American subway riders.
Being located in a fertile valley along a major river attracted people, commerce and wealth, according to the laws of burgeoning civilization, and Florence grew up to be a leader in all the new phases, such as the Cult of Isis and later, Christianity.
The dark ages hit Florence a little earlier than the rest of Europe. Because of its location on the Italian peninsula, it was fought over viciously during the Gotho-Byzantine war. When Florence was cut off from communications and trade with Rome in the 6th century, its status descended into terrible Lombard dominion most, most foul.
Charlemagne and the Carolingian empire were next up in the roster of rulers, so Florence became a county of the Holy Roman Empire.
Over the next five centuries Florence experienced more growth and construction and landed as the capital of the Tuscany region in the thirteenth century. Merchants' associations multiplied and brought international trade relations to Florence, and yet more wealth for the construction of Gothic buildings, such as the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
By the thirteenth century, Florence had rightly earned the reputation as the main city of the West. To symbolize this, they constructed the Palazzo della Signoria.
Enter Black Plague, 1348. Cue flood, wipe out bridges over Arno river. Begin serious urban planning as of fourteenth century, to remedy the economic and political crises.
Remedy? Rhymes with Medici? The Medici family took power by representing the disenfranchised middle class, and began the Italian Renaissance proper.
I suppose being bankers to the Pope didn't hurt the Medicis in their stellar rise to power and fame. The family sponsored generations of artists and thus became responsible for the creation of unsurpassable masterpieces by such titans as Leonardo di Vinci, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Boticelli, Brunelleschi... apologies to the curtness of this sneeze of a historical kleenex I write.
Let's jump to the year 1737, when the last of the Medicis died. Florence temporarily became part of the Austrian empire, then the capital of Italy in 1865. Rome took over six years later as capital and we enter the modern times.
Florence was occupied by the Germans for a year during World War Two. Mussolini met here with Hitler in 1940, after which he led Italy into the war as an Axis power.
In Florence, you will get an education in the Renaissance whether you mean to or not. Her progress now continues into the third millenium, where preservation may be the key word. Automobile exhaust is bad for marble, you know?
Peretola is closer to Florence (5km) but it's a small, single-runway airport. In 1990 it was renamed after Amerigo Vespucci, so Peretola is also called Vespucci just to confuse matters. From it you can take a bus, taxi or rent a car to get where you're going. The bus takes about half an hour and costs less than five Euro.
Pisa airport is keeping Tuscany's profile high in the world! The best way to connect to Florence is by the train, which costs about the same five Euros but takes an hour and a half.
Arriving by train is another option for European travelers. For some reason they haven't finished the underground transatlantic subway so Americans will have to fly.
The Santa Maria Novella train station is right in the center of the city and offers connections to bus lines, taxis, or your shoes for walking. For long range view, it connects Rome, and all of southern Italy, to the rest of Europe.
Car rental information is here. Practice yelling and swerving first so you'll be ready.
Taxi fare from Vespucci airport should be about fifteen Euro.
The city transit is run by ATAF bus company. Tickets are under two Euro and you can buy them all over the place at newspaper stands and such.
Most importantly, the center of the city is closed to through traffic and requires a special residency permit to drive there. The restricted area is called the ZTL, or Zone of Traffic Limitation. Car renters make note.
People and Culture
Florence is a very international city and they're on the Euro, so visiting while you're in Europe is no problem. Skipping Florence is a problem. Trying to describe it is an even bigger one, so come and have a look for yourself. The drinking age is only eighteen and the city is filled with students.
Things to do & Recommendations
If you speak the language of food and wine, Florence will be your home away from home. Tuscany is one of the world's great wine producers; the Chianti region is only a few clicks west of Florence.
Outdoor cinemas, theater, opera, ballet, cafes, and museums will easily fill up your time walking and gawking.
Here is a short list of pinpoints to start with in Florence, again with apologies to everything and everyone we had to leave out in consideration of space.
Santa Croce: medieval Franciscan basilica, National Central Library
Rifredi: where you can find Medici villas and also Chinese and African immigrants, and Peretola airport.
Check out Oltrarno for a kinda bohemian neighborhood.
For nightlife, go through all the floors of Central Park (the club) and call me in the morning. Which will be around 3pm if you really do it. Here's the best link we've got since their site went down.
Now can you please pass me the carafe? People do not grow any older while we're at the table. Thanks!
Text by Steve Smith.