Understanding the Layout of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
With hundreds of masterpieces on display, making the most out of your trip to Uffizi Gallery is no easy task. As if the sheer amount of artwork there wasn’t enough, you’ll also have to contend with the crowds that go along with it being one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. Thankfully, your task will be much more manageable when you have a better understanding of its layout. Armed with that information, you’ll be able to come up with a plan to successfully navigate one of the greatest art museums in the world.
A brief history lesson will help you understand more about the layout as well as the architecture present there. In the mid-sixteenth century, an architect by the name of Giorgio Vasari began work for Cosimo I de’Medici on what was meant to become an office building for the Florentine Magistrates. Vasari had a heavy influence on many elements of the architecture, including the roof cornices, columns, and sculptures that would be displayed. Right from the beginning though, some rooms of the third floor were set aside by the Medici to house the finest works from their collection. As time went on, more and more of the Uffizi was set aside to store the ever-growing collection of masterpieces. The last heir of the family, Anna Maria Luisa, allowed the collection to become permanent public property, which would pave the way for the Uffizi Gallery to become a world-class art museum.
The multistory building there is centered around the narrow courtyard outside known as the Palazzo delgi Uffizi. Extending out to the Arno River, it ties everything together and can always help you establish your bearings while you’re there. The ground floor is home to the remains of the ancient Romanesque church of San Piero Scheraggio, which was partially destroyed by Visari to build the Uffizi. The second floor is home to the Prints and Drawings Department started in the seventeenth century. It remains one of the most important art collections in the entire world. The third floor is where the museum itself lies and paintings are displayed in chronological order there from the thirteenth century through the eighteenth.
Even though there are several sections devoted to foreign artwork, it should come as no surprise that the most famous group of paintings of the Uffizi are represented by the works of the Italian Renaissance artists. As you make your way along the established chronological route, you’ll come across rooms dedicated to early Renaissance work, with pieces by Masaccio, Domenico Veneziano, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, and Beato Angelico. Following those displays are the Madonnas of Filippo Lippi and religious paintings by Sandro Botticelli. The next room features works by Leonardo da Vinci, which of course need no introduction. You’ll eventually make your way to the Tribune, which was the original display space of the Uffizi. It now displays portraits of the Medici family by Agnolo Bronzino as well as older sculpture pieces. The room itself is a sight as well, featuring a mother-of-pearl tiled dome, and a stone floor and table. On the other side of the courtyard, you’ll find works by Michelangelo and Florentine artists. As you continue, you’ll find rooms with works by Veronese, Tintoretto, Rubens, Niobe and more. You’re definitely going to have your hands full with all the the Uffizi has to offer.
Now that you have a better idea of the layout there, you should be able to come up with a plan that will allow you to see the masterpieces that matter most to you.