The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is “one of the most famous museums in the world” and a “must-see destination.” At least, so said the Uffizi Gallery’s web site when I took a look at it. Well, OK. If it says so. Who am I to question the Uffizi Gallery’s claims?
Besides, it’s not as if I had never heard of the Uffizi before (I had even visited it once before during a previous visit to Florence that happened probably a couple of decades before I started this blog), but there are other galleries in the world that would certainly pop into my head before the Uffizi, including some I’ve never visited. So, “one of the most famous?” I don’t know. Who measures these sorts of things?
And “must-see?” I highly recommend visiting the Uffizi if you have some spare time in Florence, but if you have only a little time there I’d recommend just walking around and taking in the city or, as I mentioned in a previous post, if you only have time for one gallery/museum, I’d recommend the Accademia Gallery over the Uffizi. Then again, I’m not much of an art gallery person. I bore easily in the presence of so much alleged beauty. A dense haze settles in on my brain after 30 minutes or so (sometimes less) of most galleries, so I’m not much of a judge of these sorts of things.
That having been said, if a gallery is sufficiently famous I will visit it when I’m in its city as a tourist because, otherwise, when I get back home and tell people about my trip, they’ll think I’m an idiot for not going to the famous gallery. I am an idiot, but I’d rather people not think that of me. I’m not a very secure person, so I go.
The preamble provided by the previous few paragraphs notwithstanding, I enjoyed visiting the Uffizi. There are beautiful and famous works there. A few are both beautiful and famous simultaneously, such as Botticelli’s Spring. Although, I’m not very good at analyzing my own feelings. I can’t help wondering if the primary reason I consider it to beautiful is that its central figure is a delightful naked woman who is not doing a particularly good job of covering herself with her hair and hands. I know it’s about as politically incorrect as you can get these days, but I sheepishly admit that I’m partial to delightful naked women who are not doing a particularly good job of covering themselves with their hair and hands, possibly because I don’t get to see that often in real life. (It’s embarrassing how shallow, sexist, repressed and unintentionally monastic a person I am.)
Most of the works on display at the Uffizi are in rooms that are situated off two parallel, long statue- and bust-lined hallways in upper level. After my discussion of Botticelli’s Spring in the preceding paragraph, I feel the need to explain that when I say “statue- and bust-lined” I mean lined with statues and sculptures of people’s head, neck and shoulders, not lined withed statues and women’s chests.
The two hallways are connected by a corridor at the end of each hallway to form a “U” shape that wraps around the exterior Piazzale degli Uffizi (a courtyard). This corridor exists only at the second and third levels of the gallery. At ground level you can walk straight through the Piazzale deli Uffizi, under the connecting corridor, to the back of the gallery. This puts you almost at the Arno River, so watch where you’re going if you don’t know how to swim—or even if you do.
For the benefit of those of you are the sort of people who were disappointed when I clarified my busts comment above, I should point out that a few of the galleries off the hallways did have some paintings that display bare breasts, but they’re purely artistic, not prurient. Well, at least, I don’t think the artist intended them to serve prurient interests. Then again, I’ve never discussed it with any of the artists, most of them having been dead lo these many years, so who knows? Maybe they were dirty old men. (And, yes, most, if not all, of the artists whose works were on display were men.)
The works on permanent display at the Uffizi include pieces from pre-, during and post-Renaissance periods. A variety of artists are represented, including lots of Botticelli pieces, not just his painting entitled Spring.
When I was at the Uffizi there was a special exhibit in a long warren of rooms on the middle level (second floor) of the gallery. I foolishly didn’t make a note about that exhibition when I was there and, having an atrocious memory, I’d forgotten by the time I finally got around to writing up this post several months later. Oh, well. Never mind. It was a temporary exhibit and it’s probably long gone now so you can’t go see it there anyway.
In addition, an exhibit primarily of the works of Caravaggio, along with assorted other artists, was in another long warren of rooms on the same level as the special exhibit.
Something else that was at the Uffizi when I was there was lots and lots and lots of people. The people weren’t an official exhibit, but people-watching can be fun—for me, typically more fun than art-watching. However, I’m the sort of person who prefers to have a certain amount of inviolate personal space, roughly equivalent to the size of a large apartment, around me at all times when possible. This visit to the Uffizi was at the beginning of July, which is within the tourist season, although probably not the height of the season. I believe the peak occurs in August, when much of Italy is traditionally on vacation. You’ve been warned.
Nonsensical aside: Someone who spoke fluent Italian once told me that the great thing about the Italian language is that, unlike, say, English or, even more so, French, Italians pronounce every letter in every word. So, when you see a word written down, you don’t have to worry about whether any letters are silent. Pronounce them all. If this is true, how does one pronounce the double “f” in Uffizi? “You-fe-fe-eetzy?” I don’t think so. That’s why maps (particularly smartphone-based maps that show you both where you are, where you want to go and, often, the best route from here to there) are so fantastic when visiting a country where you don’t speak the language. You don’t have to ask for directions.