Uffizi Gallery Museum Travel GuideIntroduction
The Uffizi Gallery (or Galleria degli Uffizi, in Italian) is located in Florence and is counted as one of the oldest as well as most famous art museums in all of Europe. It also houses one of the most valuable collections of paintings in the world, including priceless artwork by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo.
The museum building itself dates back to 1560 when construction was begun by Giorgio Vasari, and was originally created as a way to provide office space (“Uffizi”) for the Florentine magistrates, all upon the request of the Grand Duke of Tuscany at the time, Cosimo I de’ Medici of the powerful Medici family. The building was eventually completed in 1581, and the Palazzo degli Uffizi finally got Florence’s administrative offices under one roof.
However, the Uffizi’s collection of paintings and artwork only really began when Cosimo’s son, Francesco I, decided to convert the second floor of the building into a gallery, where he may “walk in with paintings, sculptures and other precious things.” Later, based on an idea by Vasari, another Medici, Leopoldo, started the now-famous collection of self-portraits from the important artists of his time, all of which were accompanied by biographies that were written by Vasari and collected in a document called “Lives of Artists.” Over the years, the collection of self-portraits grew, with some artists traveling all the way to Florence to contribute to the collection. As time passed, the collection numbered up to 250 and is now considered as one of the most comprehensive in the 20th century. Over the centuries, the Uffizi art collection continued to balloon thanks to the efforts of numerous Medici descendants, a lot of whom were passionate patrons of the arts.
In 1743, the ownership of the Uffizi was transferred from the Medicis to the state when the last Medici heiress, Anna Maria Luisa, passed away. In her will, she bequeathed the Medici family’s entire art collection, which includes the contents of the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti and all the family’s villas, as well as her Palatine treasures, to the Tuscan state, only asking that these items remain within Tuscany. Soon, the gallery was accepting visitors who wanted to view the collection, but it had to be done by request. However, by 1765, the Uffizi was officially opened to the public.
Since then, the Uffizi has been displaying magnificent pieces of artwork which has inspired people over the centuries. Because the Medicis had such a vast art collection and there was simply not enough space to put everything on display properly, however, portions of the collection had to be moved to other museums in Florence, while others have been kept in storage. This has gone on up until modern times, but thankfully, a project is underway to expand the Uffizi’s exhibition space.
What to See
Priceless Works of Art… EVERYWHERE
The entire Uffizi Gallery is practically bursting at the seams with priceless works of art, and there are just SO. MANY. THINGS. TO SEE. In fact, with 45 rooms to visit, it might take an entire day, or maybe even more than one visit to be able to really see and appreciate all of the artwork on display. If you’re running a little short on time, however, here are some of the rooms in the gallery that you absolutely mustn’t miss.
Room 2: This room contains three large and elaborate altarpieces that were created by the artists Cimabue, Giotto, and Duccio. On top of these, a lot of the artwork here hail from the 13th century during the beginning of the Tuscan school of art.
Room 4: Caravaggio’s fans would be delighted here as it contains three of his most famous paintings, namely The Sacrifice of Isaac, Bacchus, and Medusa. You can also find the paintings Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, as well as Salome with the Head of John the Baptist by Battistello.
Room 5-6: In the International Gothic room, it will be hard to miss the two largest pieces that are displayed here which are Lorenzo Monaco’s Coronation of the Virgin and Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi.
Room 7: Here we see paintings that date back to the early Renaissance, and the artists featured include the pioneers of this age such as Paolo Uccello and his Battle of San Romano, Madonna and Child by Masaccio, as well as Madonna and Child with Saint Anne by both Masaccio and Masolino. Works by Fra Angelico can also be found here.
Room 8: This is the Lippi room, and here can be found the beautiful Madonna and Child with Angels by Filippo Lippi. There is also the famous and easily-recognizable portraits of the Duke of Urbino, Federico da Montefeltro, and his wife which are a masterpieces in the field of portraiture that were painted by Piero della Francesca.
Room 10-14: This huge space is dedicated to the master artist Botticelli. Here, you will find his most famous and iconic works of art, including the famous Birth of Venus, Primavera, Madonna del Magnificat, and Mystic Nativity. A lot of his works are religious or allegorical in nature, so taking the time to truly appreciate his paintings is a must. In this area can also be found the large altarpiece created by Hugo van der Goes.
Room 15: If you need to go to just one room in the entire museum, make it this one, the Leonardo da Vinci room. Taking center stage here is his famous Annunciation, as well as his unfinished painting, the Adoration of the Magi. There is also the Baptism of Christ which he worked on with his teacher Verrocchio. Other paintings that occupy this hall include those by the likes of Lorenzo di Credi, Luca Signorelli, and Perugino, all of whom were artists who admired Leonardo.
Room 25: This is the Michelangelo room, and it shouldn’t be too hard to spot his Doni Tondo (Holy Family). Other paintings in this room are mostly done in the Mannerist style and were painted by the likes of Fra Bartolomeo and Ghirlandaio.
Room 26-27: This room mainly features the artists Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino, most of whom were mannerist painters. Raphael’s works here include the portraits of Pope Julius II and Pope Leo X, and Madonna of the Goldfinch.
Room 28: Another heavyweight in the Renaissance art world would be Titian whom this room is mostly reserved for, along with many other examples of Venetian art. Titian’s Venus of Urbino resides here along with about a dozen more of his paintings.
Room 29: Featured here would be Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck which is probably one of the most famous examples of the Mannerist style.The Vasari Corridor
The history of the corridor dates back to 1565 when Cosimo I de’Medici decided that he wanted his own corridor that he could use when travelling between the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, and Palazzo Pitti which was the property and residence of the powerful Medici family. At the time, the Ponte Vecchio mostly housed butchers’, fishmongers’, and leatherworkers’ shops, and hence was a rather busy (and messy) area of the city, and Cosimo wanted to be able to quickly go from his residence to his offices (or “Uffizi”) across the river without having to use an escort or mix with the chaotic crowds below. As a result, he commissioned the renowned painter and architect Giorgio Vasari to build an elevated corridor for him. This corridor became known as Corridoio Vasariano, or the Vasari Corridor.
The corridor is over one kilometer long and offers wonderful views of the city of Florence through its windows. It is lined with numerous paintings from the 16th to the 18th century, and the most notable pieces of this collection would be the self-portraits of many famous artists which is considered as one of the most complete in all of Europe.
Don’t be alarmed, however, if you find some of the paintings on the wall to be heavily damaged. These are memorials of an incident in 1993 when a car bomb went off in the area, which resulted in the death of five people, the damage of nearby homes and this section of the Uffizi and the corridor, and the destruction of some of the treasured paintings.
The Vasari Corridor is considered as a small, separate museum and is usually closed to the general public, and hence, has a much quieter atmosphere compared to the rest of the Uffizi Gallery. It also has a separate admission fee, and advanced booking for a guided tour is required in order to visit it as it can only accommodate small groups.
Two Levels’ Worth of Various Halls and Collections
When we say that there is a lot to see at the Uffizi Museum, we totally mean it. There are about 45 rooms and halls to explore, and below are maps of the two floors as well as a list of the halls and exhibits available. (Maps and list taken from the official Uffizi website, Uffizi.org)
|FIRST FLOOR||SECOND FLOOR|
|46||Spanish Painters, 16th-18th centuries||1||Archeological collection|
|47||Dutch painters, Leida 17th century||2||Giotto and the 13th century|
|48||French painters, 17th century||3||Sienese Painting of the 14th century|
|49||Dustch painters, Amsterdam 17th-18th centuries||4||Florentine Painting of the 14th century|
|50||Dutch painters, Aja 17th century||5 to 6||International Gothic|
|51||French painters, 18th century||7||The Early Renaissance|
|52||Flemish painters, 17th century||8||Lippi|
|53||Dutch painters, Delft, Rotterdam, 17th-18th centuries||9||Pollaiolo|
|54||Dutch painters, Haarlem, Utrecht, 17th century||10 to 14||Botticelli|
|55||Flemish painters, 17th century||15||Leonardo|
|56||Hellenistic marbles||16||Mathematics room|
|57||Andrea del Sarto & Ancients||19||Perugino & Signorelli|
|58||Andrea del Sarto||20||Dürer|
|59||Friends of Andrea||21||Giambellino & Giorgione|
|60||Rosso Fiorentino||22||Flemish and German Renaissance|
|62||Vasari & Allori||24||Cabinet of Miniatures|
|63||Second Half of the 1500s||35||Michelangelo & Florentine Painting|
|64||Bronzino||42||Sala delle Niobe|
|65||Bronzino & the Medici||43||Italian Painting of the 17th century|
|66||Raphael||44||Flemish Painting of the 17th century|
|68||Correggio & Roman painters||45||Paintings of the 18th century|
|71||Correggio||CORRIDORS AND STATUES|
|75||Giorgione & Sebastiano del Piombo||B||Entrances to Vasari Corridor|
|88||Lombard painters of the 1500s||D||Terrace over the Loggia dei Lanzi|
|91||Batolomeo Manfredi Hall|
|92||Gherardo delle Notti Hall|
|93||Caravaggesque Painters Hall|
Tips and Advice
- Full ticket price for the museum is EUR 6.50. Take note, however, that if there are temporary exhibits in place at the time, the price changes to EUR 11. Also, when booking online, remember that there are additional booking fees.
- The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 8:15 am to 6:50 pm. When waiting to get in, be patient as the staff only lets people in every 15 minutes in order to regulate the total number of people inside the building and avoid overcrowding.
- The Uffizi Gallery is a tourist hotspot and is visited by about 1.5 million people every year. Because of this, be ready to queue to purchase tickets, and to queue again to get inside. It can get particularly busy on Tuesdays and weekends, and during mornings. In order to save yourself some time, it is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance, despite the booking fees.
- Be aware that when visiting the gallery, you will have to be a bit patient with the facilities. Keep in mind that the building was not originally built as a museum that can accommodate a large number of people at a time. Because of this, the gallery may feel quite crowded, and air conditioning might not be working sufficiently in all of the rooms.
- As part of the “Nuovi Uffizi“ project, there might also be some areas and rooms that are closed off as renovations take place in an effort to improve and modernize the building.
- There is a cloakroom or baggage deposit counter near the entrance of the building. Large bags and backpacks, as well as sharp items such as umbrellas will need to be deposited here. There is no charge for this service.
- Drinks are not allowed inside the museum, so if you happen to have some bottled water or other drinks on you, you will be requested to either dispose of it before entering, or to deposit it with your bags at the cloakroom.
- Audio guides are available in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese, and can be rented for EUR 6.00 each, or EUR 10.00 for a pair.
- There are three museum shops on the premises, with the two near the entrance selling guides and souvenirs, and the third near the exit selling other memorabilia and museum merchandise. Take note, however, that these shops do NOT have a separate entrance from the museum. This means that they cannot be accessed without a valid museum ticket, so make sure to do your souvenir shopping before exiting, as you will not be able to re-enter the museum once you’re out unless you buy another entry ticket.
- On the terrace on the second floor is a cafeteria where you could stop for food and drinks while taking a break from touring the museum’s halls.
- There is a post office inside the Uffizi which you could use to mail off those post cards you bought from the museum shop. It also offers currency exchange services in case you need to change money into Euros, and you can also purchase collectible stamps here.
- For visitors with mobility issues, the museum has restrooms, ramps, and elevators that you may use. However, the elevator is rather small, and a few of the ramps have a small step so you may need to request assistance from the museum staff. One of the aims of the Nuovi Uffizi project is to improve accessibility for PWDs, so try to be patient.
- For visitors with vision issues, the Uffizi Gallery has recently introduced the “Uffizi by Touch” tour which allows vision-impaired visitors to appreciate the gallery’s marble sculptures, busts, bas reliefs, statues, altars, sarcophagi, and epigraphs through the sense of touch. Visitors will be provided with a guide, as well as latex gloves that they wear in order to touch the sculptures freely. The displays are accompanied by text in braille. The Uffizi by Touch tour is free of charge and does not require reservations or advanced bookings. Simply present a valid document as proof of disability at the ticket office, and a staff member will assist you.