One of the things most tourist visitors have to do when they’re in Florence is visit the Uffizzi Gallery. The Uffizzi, according to Wikipedia is, “one of the oldest and most famous art galleries of the Western World.” You can tell, too, because it’s hoochin‘ with people. But, you have to go because it’s home to some of the world’s most famous pieces of art.
Long before we’d got to Florence, I’d read that to visit the Uffizzi Gallery, one really should book tickets online before you get there. It’s that busy. To do this, of course, you get stung with all sorts of extra charges and often, your ticket can cost double the price of the actual cost of entry (which is about €9.50 or something.) You also have to jump through hoops to find a suitable date and time (they let 30 people in every 15 minutes- which would be fantastic, if it weren’t for the thousands of tour groups getting in at the same time) and are advised to turn up 15 minutes early for entry.
So anyway, my pals and I did all the hoop-jumping, extra fee-paying, blood-pressure raising, early-arriving rigamarole and were granted entry to the museum at 10 am on a Tuesday morning. I knew exactly what I wanted to see so one of my friends and I skipped most of the rooms before we found the holy grail, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
The Birth of Venus is in a large room with lots of other Botticelli pictures (Spring, f’instance- gorgeous!) and a couple more paintings from other fabulous renaissance artists (I loved the Portinari Tryptich). All beautiful, of course. But the room was very dark and like a sauna from the amount of people in there, jostling to be standing right in front of the most famous works of art. I’d have loved to stay in there longer but it was just too uncomfortable.
After Botticelli, you find the Leonardo da Vinci room. Again, packed to the rafters with jostling and sometimes smelly tourists, being obnoxious. It’s worth it to just let go of your inhibitions and become one of them to get a really good gawp at Leonardo’s* Annunciation though. And another really beautiful work in the same room, Perugino’s Pietà.
It gets a little quieter after that. Outside of the busy rooms filled with the big-name, top-billing artists, the museum can be quite a cool and refreshing space to be in. The corridors are topped with beautiful ceilings and lined with gorgeous sculpture. But it’s vast. There are so many works of art to see, it can be quite overwhelming. I’d prepared beforehand by downloading the Uffizzi Guide app onto my iPhone so I could have a browse and choose what I wanted to see before we even got to Florence. Otherwise I suspect I’d have suffered Uffizzi overload a lot earlier than I did. There’s a gorgeous terrace with a cafe which serves overpriced and inferior coffee. But, €5 for a cup of coffee was €5 well spent just to be able to sit down in the fresh air for a while. Plus it’s in the shadow of the Palazzo Vecchio. It’s hard not to forgive the cafe for the outrageously priced coffee in such an atmosphere.
After our coffee break, my pal and I headed towards the “Foreign Artists” section where we saw a whole host of wonderful paintings by any number of famous art names you could care to recall. I’d never heard of Georg Pencz but I’ll never forget him now, his Portrait of a Seated Youth provided some light relief for a few moments.
And then, when we’d just about had enough, my friend indulged me when I asked, “Can we just go and find the Caravaggios before we leave?” They weren’t too easy to find (I had to climb back up about a thousand stairs, for a start) but well worth the effort.
Caravaggio‘s Medusa and Adolescent Bacchus. I’ve been a bit obsessed by Caravaggio since I watched a BBC4 thing about him. Apparently he was a bit of a bad boy- he killed a man! I’ve been longing to have a proper look at some of his work ever since.
Special mention to the gorgeous Michelangelo Doni Tondo too, the colours of which are absorbing.
And then we left. There’s still so much I’d like to see one day. So yeah, the hoop-jumping, extra fee-paying, blood-pressure raising, early-arriving rigamarole was worth the effort and I’d do it all again. Just name the day.
*Is it really pretentious to be on first name terms with Leonardo da Vinci? I like to think we’d have made Duzis if we’d met.