Back to Santa Croce     Continue to Piazza della Signoria

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the great art museums of the world, but didn’t start out that way.  It was built from 1560-1581 by Giorgio Vasari (though he didn’t live to see its completion) for the Medici family as a building of offices (uffizi  in Italian).  From early on, the family stored part of its art collection in the building, and this collection grew steadily over the centuries of Medici power.  With the wealth and influence wielded by the Medici in Florence during a possibly unparalleled period of artistic achievement, an amazing private collection of masterpieces was amassed.  The Medici line ended in the 18th Century, and the last heiress, Anna Maria Luisa, bequeathed the building and collection to the city in 1737.  The Uffizi was opened as a museum in 1765.

When visiting the Uffizi, it’s very important to make a reservation in advance, if at all possible.  The number of people allowed in the museum at one time is carefully regulated, and the line for people showing up without reservations is long and extremely slow.  If you aren’t going to Florence to spend literally hours standing in a line, go online a few weeks before your trip and make your Uffizi appointment.  And while you’re at it, make your Galleria dell’Accademia appointment too – more on this later.

We walked over to the Uffizi from the Santa Croce church, stopping at a trattoria for a splendid (and gorgeous) lunch on the way.

Pasta for Lunch
Pasta for Lunch
Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad

On arriving at the Uffizi, we found ourselves early for our appointment, so we took some time to look around in the courtyard a little.  The Uffizi is laid out as two long, parallel three-story buildings on either side of a long, narrow courtyard.  A walkway connects the upper floors of the two buildings at the south end.  The museum is housed in the top floor of both buildings.  The courtyard is a pathway between the Piazza della Signoria to the north and the Arno River to the south.

The Uffizi Courtyard
The Uffizi Courtyard

Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli Statue
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci Statue

We looked at some of the statues of famous Florentines which face the courtyard from both sides and walked southward, eventually reaching a spot with a nice view of the Arno (be careful here – there is a narrow, open-to-traffic street between the end of the museum and the wall overlooking the river).  A team of canoers was on the river, paddling downstream toward the Ponte Vecchio.  The Ponte Vecchio is a picturesque old bridge (from 1345, the name actually means "Old Bridge") with shops all over it.  Since 1593, the shops have been occupied by goldsmiths.  During World War II, the retreating Nazis blew up all the bridges across the Arno except this one.

Upstream from the Uffizi
Upstream from the Uffizi
Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

Canoers Approaching Ponte Vecchio
Canoers Approaching Ponte Vecchio
HD Video (20.9 MB)  SD Video (12.8 MB)

As our appointment time approached, we went to a special entrance for people with reservations, showed them our confirmations and were admitted.  Unfortunately, the rules did not allow visitors to take photographs.  Even more unfortunately, they seemed to be serious about the rules, as nobody was taking pictures.  So we didn’t take very many either.  The ones we did take were of the “safe” variety, not including the artworks.  So the art pictures below are from the only other time we’ve visited the museum, in 2000, when non-flash photography was OK.  If people look unexpectedly youthful in these pictures, you’re not seeing things. We apologize for the quality of some of these pictures, as digital cameras weren’t nearly as good back then.  It shouldn’t be hard to find better versions of the well-known works somewhere on the Internet.

Duke and Duchess of Urbino
Duke and Duchess of Urbino,  Piero della Francesca (1465-70)
Nella with Primavera
Nella with Primavera, Sandro Botticelli (c. 1482)
Bob with The Birth of Venus
Bob with The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli (c. 1485-87)
Bob and Connie with Adam and Eve
Bob and Connie with Adam and Eve, Hans Baldung Grien (1507)
Connie and the Doni Tondo
Connie and the Doni Tondo, Michelangelo (c. 1507)
Bob and Venus of Urbino
Bob and Venus of Urbino, Titian (1538)
Bob and Leda and the Swan
Bob and Leda and the Swan, Jacopo Tintoretto (c. 1570)
Nella and Urn
Nella and Urn

The museum floors of both buildings are laid out with building-long hallways with mostly classical statues on display and doorways leading into rooms with the many paintings.

Connie in Hallway
Connie in Hallway
Roman Statue of Fighters
Roman Statue of Fighters

At the south end of the western building is a good viewpoint of the Ponte Vecchio, as well as the Vasari Corridor.  

Ponte Vecchio and Vasari Corridor
Ponte Vecchio and Vasari Corridor

The Vasari Corridor is an enclosed walkway that extends from the Palazzo Vecchio to the north (more on this later), through the Uffizi, out the south end of the Uffizi and across the top of the shops on the Ponte Vecchio, and across other buildings on the other side of the river to end eventually at the Pitti Palace.  This made it possible for VIPs to walk back and forth between the palace and the center of government without having to worry about traffic (or the unwashed masses).  The Corridor is usually closed to visitors, though apparently special tours are available.

Back to Santa Croce     Continue to Piazza della Signoria