A Showcase of the Renaissance’s Glory Days
Here, in a palace designed in 1560 by architect Giorgio Vasari for Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, are some of the most recognized and oft-reproduced masterworks of Western civilization, it is the largest such holding of Renaissance paintings anywhere and is widely regarded as one of the most important picture galleries in the world.
Collected by the Medicis themselves over time, the superb collection of Italy’s unparalleled artistic heritage spans six centuries: the crowds confirm that the Botticelli rooms (Allegory of Springtime, The Birth of Venus) are some of the most popular. There are also earlier wonders of the Renaissance from such trailblazers as Cimabue and Giotto; Michelangelo, native son of Florence, is represented here by his only extant painting on canvas, the Doni Tondo.
Add to them equally seminal work by artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Piero della Francesca, Filippo Lippi, Raphael . . . the list goes on and on. Stendhal swooned from the sensory overload of walking the streets of Florence (and no doubt stopping in at many of the city’s sixty-six museums); visitors to the Uffizi will likely experience something of “Stendhal’s Syndrome.”
The U-shaped galleries can easily (and probably should) be divided into more than one visit. Each should be capped off with a caffe at the museum bar overlooking the Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the city past and present.