For art lovers and even people who appreciate art but perhaps don’t know that much about it, visiting Florence creates the opportunity to immerse yourself in some of the most influential art in human history.
One place that everyone who goes to Florence should try to visit is the Uffizi Gallery. The museum is adjacent to the Piazza Della Signoria, in the Historic Centre of Florence. Florence is in the Tuscany region of Italy.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most visited, well-known Italian museums. The museum holds a collection of priceless pieces focusing on the Italian Renaissance.
After the ruling House of Medici was no longer in existence, their art collections were given to the city in a deal managed by the last Medici heiress.
The Uffizi is considered one of the first modern museums, and it had been open by visitors since the 16th century. In 1765 it opened to the public officially.
The construction of the Uffizi began in 1560 as a way to unite the seats of the Tuscan government under a single roof. The Uffizi was originally meant to be an administrative office at the capital of Florence. Uffizi in Italian translates to office. The building was completed in 1581 and was used for its original purpose, but the top floor was a personal gallery for the Medici family.
Anna Maria Luisa de Medici, the last of the Medici’s, gave the collection eventually to the Tuscan state. She hoped to attract visitors to the area.
The Uffizi Gallery is around 139,000 square feet, and it’s two levels. Because of the size and the number of pieces, it’s a good idea to plan to spend at least two hours there, but this will depend on your preferences and what you’re most interested in seeing.
The Uffizi lines can be very long, particularly during peak tourist seasons. You might end up waiting for hours to get in if you don’t book your visit ahead of time.
You can buy a ticket online or call the Uffizi reservation office directly.
When you book your visit ahead of time, you choose a day and entry time. These times are every 15 minutes, between the open and closing time of the museum. You get a six-digit confirmation code if you choose an available time slot. You bring that code to the ticket office the day you visit. You should give yourself at least 10 minutes before your entry time.
Skipping the Line
We talked about this above, but there are other things to know about skipping the line at the Uffizi. The gallery is notorious for long lines, and along with buying your tickets online in advance, there are other ways you can skip the line.
A guided tour is a great option. Guided tours come with priority access so you can skip lines, and you can understand the context and background of everything you’re looking for. Most skip-the-line tours are around two hours long. You can choose private or group tours.
Another option is to get a combination ticket that provides admission to multiple locations in Florence. For example, these tickets will often combine the Uffizi Gallery with the Florence Duomo and the Accademia gallery.
When you get certain combination tickets, you get discounted pricing, and they also have timed entrance so you can skip lines.
The Firenze Card is also something to think about looking into. The Firenze Card gives you priority access to many of the city’s top locations, including the Uffizi.
You should plan to avoid the Uffizi on the first Sunday of the month, which is when all visitors get free entry, making it incredibly busy.
Planning Your Path
There’s so much to see in the Uffizi that it can get overwhelming. You want to have a plan and strategy for your visit, especially if you’re tackling it independently rather than in a guided tour.
Educate yourself on the pieces that are must-sees. Get some background on those, first and foremost.
The museum is spread over three floors, with the ground floor being the main entrance and the ticket office.
The first floor has the less popular halls, while the second floor displays the key masterpieces.
The Botticelli rooms in halls 10-14 are the most popular.
If you want to delve into the background even more before your visit, there are audiobooks and even podcasts that will provide you with more information about the museum and the works it holds.
Some of the most well-known must-sees in the Uffizi include:
- Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli—This Florentine-born artist from the Renaissance period is perhaps most well-known for The Birth of Venus. Fairly recently, a Botticelli sold at auction for $92 million, making it the most expensive art to appear at auction by an artist from the Renaissance. The painting shows Venus, the goddess of love, standing on a seashell. The Birth of Venus is considered the most beautiful depiction of Venus ever and one of the best paintings from the 15th-century.
- La Primavera by Sandro Botticelli—La Primavera was commissioned by the Medici Family at the height of the Renaissance. La Primavera is the first known painting that features an entirely pagan scene introduced publicly. The painting symbolizes a sense of freedom of expression.
- The Madonna del Cardellino by Raphael—This painting features the Madonna, St. John, depicted as a baby and Jesus Christ.
- The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio—This is considered da Vinci’s first commissioned painting. It was painted when he was in his early 20s, and it features the Angel Gabriel who is telling the Virgin Mary she will give birth to the Son of God.
- Doni Tondo by Michelangelo—AgnoloDoni commissioned this painting in 1506. It is meant to commemorate the birth of his child and his marriage.
Of course, there are so many other wonderful pieces in the Uffizi, but the above gives you a bit of a starting point when planning a visit.