The Uffizi Gallery is considered to be one of the finest art museums not just in Florence but in the entire world. Given the competition it’s up against, that can only mean that it has a lot to offer all who choose to pay a visit there. Whether you’re a hardcore art aficionado or just a traveler who wants to visit all major destinations on the tourist circuit, a brief history lesson and a short guide will help you get the most out of your experience there.
The word “uffizi” comes from the Italian word for “offices” and gives some insight into the original purpose of the Uffizi Gallery. Back in 1560, Giorgio Vasari began building a palace for Cosimo I de’Medici meant to become the offices for the Florentine Magistrates. Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti continued construction according to Vasari’s design until 1581. Careful consideration was given to various parts of the architecture, including roof cornices, columns, and various sculptures that would be placed in the hallways there.
As time went on, more and more of the palace evolved into display areas for paintings and sculptures collected by the Medici family as well as those pieces commissioned by them. Famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo regularly gathered at the Uffizi for work and recreation. The Medici line eventually extinguished and Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress, reached an agreement that would turn the collection there into one of the first modern museums. The Uffizi Gallery opened to the public in 1765 and is now home to an amazing array of masterpieces. So many works are part of their collection that, until recently, there wasn’t enough space to display them all; some either remained in storage or were loaned to other museums. Thankfully, a project began in 2006 with the goal of increasing the museum’s exhibition space by two fold.
The collection at the Uffizi Gallery has grown so large over the years that it would be nearly impossible to see it all in one day, especially given the popularity of the museum as a tourist attraction. It is therefore wise to pick and choose your battles, so to speak. When planning a trip, aim to look at a certain time period of artwork as opposed to jumping around too much. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay multiple visits to the grounds over a few days, consider signing up for an organized tour that will hit the main attractions everyone should see at least once.
When is the best time to go? No matter when you choose to visit the Uffizi Gallery, you’re going to run into a large crowd of people. Keep in mind though that high season, specifically July, is probably going to be when it’s most crowded. In any case, it really pays to book a ticket in advance either through the internet or on the phone. Although it may be slightly easier to book on the internet, you’re going to have to endure a 24 hour waiting period with that method whereas you can book the day before using the phone. Either way, a reservation is going to allow you to get the most out of your trip to the Uffizi; you’ll be able to spend less time in line and more time marveling at all the masterpieces.