The Uffizi Gallery and the magic Renaissance

The Uffizi Gallery and the magic Renaissance

The Uffizi Gallery is a Florentine museum consisting of 45 rooms and lots of famous paintings and sculptures. The structure, “above the river and almost in the air” was designed during the Renaissance period, in order to build State Archives and the administrative offices of the Medici family, who was reigning in Florence. Today the Uffizi is one of the most famous buildings in the world, which draws many tourists throughout the year, churning out a characteristic “snake” of people in queue, to the nearby Piazza della Signoria. An unmissable place during a weekend in Florence.

Uffizi Florence

Uffizi [Photo credits Andree & Edward]

The history of the museum
In 1560 the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de’ Medici decided to realize a building where the Florentine magistrates could work and store all documentation. To this end, he decided to demolish the infamous district called Baldracca, which stood just behind Ponte Vecchio, when the Arno river was still navigable. To recreate this part of the city Giorgio Vasari, a talented architect, was took on. He presented the project of the U-shaped gallery, imposing and beautiful. He was then completed in 1584, after the death of Vasari, by the equally brilliant architect Bernardo Buontalenti, under the reign of Francesco I de’ Medici. From that moment, the collections of art and precious objects were gradually enlarged, through the contribution of all the Medicis. Then, thanks to the strategy called “Family Compact“, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, in 1737 drew up a comprehensive inventory of all the works, which, symbolically, were donated to the heritage of the city of Florence, “for the ornament of the State , for the usefulness of the public and to attract the curiosity of foreigners“. Finally, in 1789, during the new reign of Habsburg-Lorraine, the Grand Duke Peter Leopold decided to open the doors of the Uffizi to the citizens and the general public. Nowadays, the project of a new exit for the Uffizi Gallery  is in progress, by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki.

Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi, Florence

Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi, Florence [Photo credits Andy Hay]

The Vasari Corridor
It was built in 1565, for the wedding of the son of Cosimo I, Francesco de’ Medici with Joan of Austria, and to allow communication between the ducal apartments located in Piazza della Signoria and the Pitti Palace, through a private path of one kilometer. The corridor passes over the Uffizi Gallery, continues on Lungarno Archibusieri through Ponte Vecchio, and finally arrives at Pitti Palace. The ancient butcher shops of Ponte Vecchio, were moved and replaced by jewelers, because the strong smell of meat disturbed the lords. The passage was often used by the Medici family as a ploy to live undisturbed in all their rooms without having to travel through the city streets, sometimes very dangerous. In more recent times, even Hitler, during a visit in Florence with Mussolini, was so much impressed by the monuments that he ordered the preservation of the Vasari Corridor and Ponte Vecchio. Precisely the Corridor, was then used by the Florentine partisans to attack the occupant Nazi-fascist troops.

Botticelli Nascita di Venere

Botticelli Nascita di Venere [Photo credits Pietro Zanarini]

Plan the visit at Uffizi
Despite the long queue that each visitor will mathematically bear, the visit to the museum in Florence is a duty even to admire some of the most famous masterpieces in the world: the Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano, the Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello, the Rucellai Madonna by Duccio di Buononsegna, the Majesty of S. Trìnita of Cimabue, the Portraits of the Dukes of Urbino by Piero della Francesca, The Primavera and The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, the Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo, the Tondo Doni by Michelangelo, the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, the Bacchus by Caravaggio. And if it was not enough, on the walls of the Vasari Corridor, are exhibited some works by Guido Reni, the Carracci’s, Artemisia Gentileschi and by Flemish painters such as Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Velázquez, and a series of self-portraits of artists, such as those of Chagall and Guttuso.

Tondo Doni Uffizi

Tondo Doni Uffizi [Photo credits Justin Ennis]

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