Monday, 2 April 2007

Museums and Galleries of Florence

Florence is simply heaven for culture and history lovers. The city is packed full of museums and art galleries - enough to keep even the most avid art enthusiasts engrossed for a few weeks!

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most popular museums in Florence and a must for those who like paintings. It was originally designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1559 for Cosimo I de' Medici as offices of the government judiciary. The Uffizi is home to the finest collection of Renaissance paintings in the world and boasts around 1700 paintings and 300 sculptures, as well as a number of tapestries and some furniture and ceramics. There are 45 rooms containing works from famous artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Titian and Rubens.

The Vasari Corridor connects the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti and runs through the Uffizi and over the Ponte Vecchio to the other side of the River Arno. It is over 1km long and contains paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries as well as a famous collection of artist’s self-portraits. The corridor can only be visited as part of a special tour known as Percorso del Principe, starting at the Palazzo Vecchio. Tours can be booked by phoning + 39 0552654321.

The Galleria Dell’ Accademia was founded in 1784 and hosts a collection of sculptures and paintings. One of the most important works on display at the museum is David by Michelangelo (completed around 1504), which was transferred from the Piazza della Signoria in 1873. There are also other works by Michelangelo, including the Four Prisoners. Paintings on display in the museum date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries, as well as 15th and 16th centuries. There are paintings by Fra' Bartolomeo, Andrea del Sarto and Perugino from the early part of the 16th century.

You might also enjoy a visit to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which houses works that were originally part of the Duomo. Exhibits include tools that were used to build the Duomo, the original Baptistry doors, Donatello’s wooden sculpture of Mary Magdalene and the unfinished Pieta by Michelangelo. It will only take about an hour to go through the museum since it is relatively small.

The Palazzo Pitti is a magnificent building housing many smaller galleries and museums and is the entrance to the Boboli Gardens.

  • The Galleria Palatina (Palatine Gallery) is on the first floor of the Palazzo Pitti. It contains a fine collection of over 1000 paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, including works by Titian, Raphael, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and Correggio. The ticket includes entry to the lavish Royal Apartments, consisting of 14 sumptuous rooms that were home to the Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families.
  • The Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art) holds paintings dating from 1784 to 1924. The Dukes of Lorraine, who formerly inhabited the rooms in the museum, originally collected many of the paintings to decorate the Palazzo Pitti. The 30 rooms house paintings from neo-classicism to the 20th century and include both works by Tuscan painters and foreign artists.
  • The recently renovated Galleria del Costume (Costume Gallery) is on the ground
    floor of the Palazzo Meridiana and contains exhibits showing the changing fashions
    from the 16th to the 20th centuries. This is the only museum of fashion in Italy and
    contains over 6000 items including accessories and theatre costumes.
  • The Museo degli Argenti (Museum of Silver) is on the ground floor of the Palazzo Pitti in rooms that were formerly used by the Medici as their summer apartments. The collection includes a wide range of silver objects as well as ivory, glassware, clocks, crystal, amber and carpets. The former staterooms in this museum are decorated with 17th century Frescoes.
  • The Museo delle Porcellane (Porcelain museum) is located in the Casino del Cavaliere and can be accessed via the Rose garden at the top of the Boboli gardens. The collection of porcelain comprises mainly of tableware belonging to the royal families that ruled Tuscany, and includes many gifts from European rulers and pieces that were made for the grand ducal court.
The Bargello Museum is housed in an ancient civic palace and is home to many famous sculptures, including works such as Bachus and by Michelangelo and David by Donatello. As well as sculptures you’ll find a number of other collections including renaissance jewellery, enamels and ivories, Venetian glass and Islamic Bronzes. The building itself is three stories high and was built in 1255. It was once the home of Bargello, the Captain of Justice and then later became a prison before it was turned into a museum in 1865.

The Medici Chapels is a small museum with two main rooms: the Princes' Chapel and the Medici Tombs. The Princes' Chapel is covered with a huge dome designed by Buontalenti and contains six tombs of Grand Dukes. The tombs have elaborate designs in green and red marble. The Medici Tombs contain Michelangelo's spectacular statues Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk. Although the Medici Chapels are attached to the San Lorenzo Basilica, the entrance to the museum is from the other side in Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini.

The History of Science Museum in Florence provides an opportunity for visitors with an interest in science to see a collection of about 5,000 original scientific instruments divided into the Medici and the Lorenese collection. Some of the items on show are original Galilean instruments, including telescopes and lenses. There is a hall devoted to showing the origins and historical development of the microscope. Another section shows electrostatic and electromagnetic instruments from the eighteenth century.

It is a very good idea to buy tickets for museums in advance, especially in the peak season. The lines for tickets in Florence can be extremely long. It is better to have the ticket in advance then to be disappointed when you get there. You can Reserve your Uffizi Tickets Here

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