Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor ★★★

"The Birth of Venus" (1484–85) by Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Florence, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
"The Birth of Venus" (1484–85) by Sandro Botticelli

Visiting the Gallerie degli Uffizi is like taking Renaissance 101: A smorgasbord of paintings by Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Botticelli—including his iconic "Birth of Venus"

Uffizi Room 2: A tale of three Madonnas (and why Giotto is so awesome)

You get off to a roaring start with the trio of giant Maestà paintings in the first room. Together, these "Madonna in Majesty"—the Virgin Mary seated on a throne as the Queen of Heaven, often bobbling a baby Jesus on her lap—offer a crash course in the roots of the Renaissance, showing in a very visual way how the Renaissance began and what made it different from everything that came before.

Painting quickly moved from the rigid, Byzantine style of Cimabue'sversion through some more earthy (and decorative) Gothic elements courtesy of the Sienese great Duccio, to the point where painting is completely transformed by the artist who broke all the rules and in the process catalyzed Renaissance painting, Giotto.

On the right is Cimabue's Santa Trínita Maestà (1280), still very much rooted in the Byzantine traditions that governed painting in the early Middle Ages—an Eastern-style inlaid throne, spoon-like depressions above the noses, highly posed figures, a typically Byzantine drapery of blue and red robes finely incised with a hatchwork of gold leaf, and cloned angels with identical faces stacked up along the sides.

On the left is Duccio's Rucellai Maestà (1285), painted by the master who studied with Cimabue and eventually founded the Sienese school of painting. The style is still thoroughly medieval but introduces innovations into the rigid traditions. There's a little more weight to the Child Madonna holds, and the Madonna's face has a more human, somewhat sad, expression.

In the center of the room is Giotto's incredible Ognissanti Maestà★★★ (1310), by the man who's generally credited as the founding father of Renaissance painting.

It is sometimes hard to appreciate just how much Giotto changed when he junked half the traditions of painting to go his own way. It's mainly in the very simple details, the sorts of things we take for granted in art today, such as the force of gravity, the display of basic emotions, the individual facial expressions, and the figures who look like they have an actual bulky body under their clothes.

Giotto's Mary face is a naturalistic study of a sturdy peasant woman, not the almond-eyed, arrow-nosed Byzantine ideal of unearthly beauty in Cimabue. She sways slightly to one side, the fabric of her off-white shirt pulling realistically against her breasts as she twists.

The attendant angels in the Giotto are all individuals (their faces unique) and are milling about, halos bumping into one another, while standing firmly on the ground, not identical angelic clones floating around merely to decorate the margins.

(Also, Giotto—though still a generation from the development of true perspective—uses ingenious little tricks to show depth, like having two of the deep background angels peer at the scene through the windows in the side of the throne.)

The differences between these works is staggering—not because one is "better" than the other (it isn't), but because of what each has to say about how a painting should be done.

All three artists were great masters. It's just that Giotto was the master who was pointing to the future, while Cimabue had only mastered what had come before and Duccio only built upon that. That this quantum leap in art happened within a single generation makes it all the more remarkable. The works were painted a mere 25 years apart.

The icing on the cake? Cimabue had actually been Giotto's teacher. Cimabue discovered the former shepherd as a lad, using a sharp rock to idly scratch sketches of his sheep into a boulder and took him under his wing.

And all that's just in the first room—and I didn't even get to any of the other works in this room.

Like I said: small museum; major collection. (OK, I promise: no more lengthy art history lessons.)

Uffizi Room 3: The Gothic Sienese School

Room 3 pays homage to the 14th-century Sienese school with several delicately crafted works by Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers.

Here is Martini's Annunciation ★ (1333), one of my favorite paintings in the gallery since I was 12 years old. Note that Mary—who, in so much art both before and after this period is depicted as meekly accepting her divine duty when the archangel Gabriel arrive to announce her imminent Immaculate Conception—looks reluctant, even disgusted, at the news in Martini's interpretation, draws back violently and looking distinctly disbelieving.

Brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti helped revolutionize Sienese art and the Sienese school before succumbing to the Black Death in 1348. Of their work here, Ambrogio's 1342 Presentation at the Temple is the finest, with a rich use of color and a vast architectural space created to open up the temple in the background.

Uffizi Rooms 4–6: International Gothic

Room 4 houses the works of the 14th-century Florentine school, where you can clearly see the influence Giotto had on his contemporaries like Bernardo Daddi and Orcagna. (Much of the best work by this era of Trecento Florentine painters is actually in fresco form, scattered around the churches in town).

Rooms 5 and 6 represent the dying gasps of International Gothic—Fra' Angelico, Jacopo Bellini, Lorenzo Monaco, and Gentile da Fabriano—still grounded in medievalism but admitting a bit of the emergent naturalism and humanist philosophy into their works.

Lorenzo Monaco's Coronation of the Virgin (1413) is particularly beautiful, antiquated in its styling but with a delicate suffused coloring.

Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi (1423) was commissioned by the Strozzi, a powerful Florentine clan of merchants and textile magnates, which is why the figures in the painting are showing off all the latest textiles and patterns—sort of art as company catalogue.

Uffizi Room 7: Cue the Renaissance

In Room 7, the Renaissance proper starts taking shape, driven primarily by the quest of two artists, Paolo Uccello and Masaccio, for perfect perspective.

On the left wall is Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano (1456), famously innovative but also rather ugly. This painting depicts one of Florence's great victories over rival Siena, but for Uccello it was more of an excuse to explore the newly developed technique of "perspective"—with which this painter was, by all accounts, positively obsessed. In one corner of his large canvas a soldier has even, in the words of one great art historian, "managed to die in perspective." (If this painting looks vaguely familiar, it may be because it was originally one of three depicting the entire battle that were painted to hang on the walls of a Medici cousin's bedchamber; the other two canvases from this ersatz triptych are now in Paris at the Louvre and in London at the National Gallery.)

In the far corner is the only example of Masaccio's art here (he died at age 27), the Madonna and Child with St. Anne,which he helped his master, Masolino, paint in 1424. Masaccio's earthy realism and sharp light are evident in the figures of Mary and the Child, as well as in the topmost angel peeking down.

In the center of the room is Piero della Francesca's Portrait of Frederico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza ★★★, painted around 1465 or 1470 and the only work by this remarkable Sansepolcran artist to survive in Florence. The fronts of the panels depict the famous duke of Urbino and his wife, while on the backs are horse-drawn carts symbolic of the pair's respective virtues.

Piero's incredibly lucid style and modeling and the detailed Flemish-style backgrounds need no commentary, but do note he purposefully painted the husband and wife in full profile—without diluting the realism of a hooked nose and moles on the duke—and mounted them face to face, so they'll always gaze into each other's eyes.

Rooms 8–9: Getting ready for Botticelli

Room 8 is devoted to Fra' Filippo Lippi—debauched monk, bon vivant, and teacher of a young Botticelli—with more than half a dozen works by the lecherous monk who turned out rich religious paintings with an earthy quality and a three-dimensionality that make them immediately accessible.

His most famous painting here is the Madonna and Child with Two Angels (1455–66). Also here are a few works by Filippo's illegitimate son, Filippino Lippi (who, in a nice passing of the torch, was in turn a student of Botticelli).

Room 9 is an interlude of virtuoso paintings by Antonio del Pollaiolo, plus a number of large Virtues by his less-talented brother, Piero. These two masters of anatomical verisimilitude greatly influenced the young Botticelli, three of whose early works reside in the room.

This introduction to Botticelli sets us up for the next room, invariably crowded with tour-bus groups.

Uffizi "Rooms" 10–14: The Botticelli Room

[Note: In spring 2015; The Botticelli Room will be getting its first restoration in decades; the best of the Botticellis—including, of course, the Birth of Venus and Primavera—will be temporarily displayed in Room 41, about halfway down the second floor's Second Corridor. These iconic works should remain there until early 2016, when they will be moved back and Room 41 is given over to Flemish and other northern Renaissance works.]

The walls separating Rooms 10 to 14 were knocked down in the 20th century to create one large space to accommodate the resurgent popularity of Sandro Filipepi—better known by his nickname, Botticelli ("little barrels")—master of willowy women in flowing gowns.

Fourteen Botticelli paintings line the walls, along with works by his pupil (and illegitimate son of his former teacher) Filippino Lippi and by his contemporary Domenico Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo's first artistic master.

But everybody flocks here for just two paintings:

In Botticelli's Birth of Venus ★★, the love goddess is born of the sea on a half shell, blown to shore by the Zephyrs. Ores, a goddess of the seasons, rushes to clothe her.

Some say the long-legged goddess was modeled on Simonetta Vespucci, a renowned Florentine beauty and the not-so-secret lover of Giuliano de' Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent's younger brother. (Fun fact: Simonetta was married to a cousin of the future Amerigo Vespucci, the naval explorer after whom America is named).

Botticelli's Primavera (Allegory of Spring★★ is harder to evaluate, since contemporary research indicates it may not actually be an allegory of spring influenced by the humanist poetry of Poliziano but rather a celebration of Venus, who stands in the center, surrounded by various complicated references to Virtues through mythological characters.

Though in later life Botticelli was influenced by the puritanical preachings of Savonarola and took to cranking out vapid Madonnas (a few on display in this room), the young painter began in grand pagan style. Both of these large, famous paintings were commissioned between 1477 and 1483 by a Medici cousin for his private villa, and they celebrate not only Renaissance art's love of naturalism but also the humanist philosophy permeating 15th-century Florence, a neo-Platonism that united religious doctrine with ancient ideology and mythological stories.

The tour-bus crowds tend to plant themselves in front of these for 20 minutes at a time, so you may have to wait for a good look. Pass the time you wait studying the other paintings in this room, like Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi, where the artist painted himself in the far right side, in a great yellow robe and golden curls.

Uffizi Room 15: The High Renaissance & Leonardo da Vinci

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Room 15 boasts Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation (1475-80) ★★★, which the young artist painted in 1472 or 1475 while still in his 20s and studying in the the workshop of his master, Andrea del Verrocchio, however, he was already fully developed as an artist. The solid yet light figures and sfumato airiness blurring the distance render remarkably life-like figures somehow suspended in a surreal dreamscape.

Leonardo helped his master on Andrea del Verrocchio's Baptism of Christ (1475–78)—most credit the young da Vinci with painting the curly-haired angel on the lower left (another, older apprentice—Botticelli—may have painted the angel next to Da Vinci's) as well as the landscape, and a few art historians think they see Leonardo's hand in the figure of Jesus as well. According to Vasari, when Verrocchio saw Da Vinci's angel, he was so humbled by his student's mastery that he put down his brushes and vowed never to paint again. (Good thing he had a successful career as a sculptor to fall back on.)

Leonardo da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi (1481), which Leonardo didn't get much beyond the sketching stage before his decamped for Milan (and, eventually, Paris)—evidence that Da Vinci was already well into his habit of rarely finishing what he started. However, even grossly unfinished, it shows how he could retain powerful compositions even when creating a fantasy landscape of ruinous architecture and incongruous horse battles. [Note: This painting was taken to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure—Florence's main restoration studio—in late 2012 for study and a subsequent restoration that is estimated to last several years.]

Pietro Perugino's Pietà showcases the Umbrian master's solid plastic style of studied simplicity, which he would later pass on to his most famous pupil, Raphael.

The room also houses works by fellow late-15th-century maestros Lorenzo di Credi and Piero di Cosimo.

Room 16, opening off the left side of Room 15, is currently closed. It previously held a collection of maps and minor works that were thoroughly ignored by most visitors (and were, in fact, often closed). However, in keeping with the didactic arrangement of the rest of the New Uffizi, I can only assume that this is where will soon reside a few major 15C paintings that used to hang in Room 19 but are no longer there following the rearrangement, particularly Perugino's luminous Portrait of Francesco delle Opere (1494) and Luca Signorelli's Sacra Famiglia di Parte Guelfa (Holy Family) (1490–95) was painted as a tondo set in a rectangle with allegorical figures in the background and a torsion of the figures that were to influence Michelangelo's version (in a later room).

No matter what, Room 16 is a dead end. You return to Room 15, where an exit spills you back into the main corridor for a stretch. The next room you enter is actually numbered Room 18.

Room 18: The Tribune

Uffizi officials use the small octagonal room called the Tribuna—designed by Buontalenti in 1584 with a pietra dura (stone inlay) floor, mother-of-pearl ceiling dome, and bloodred walls covered with High Renaissance and Mannerist paintings—as a crowd-control pressure valve. You may find yourself stuck shuffling around it quite slowly, studying the antique statues and scrutinizing the Medici portraits wallpapering the room.

The latter include many by the talented early baroque artist Agnolo Bronzino, whose portrait of Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I, with their son Giovanni de' Medici (1545) ★, is particularly well worked. It shows her in a satin dress embroidered and sewn with velvet and pearls. When the Medici tombs were opened in 1857, her body was found buried in this same dress (it's now in the Pitti Palace's costume museum).

Also here are Raphael's late St. John the Baptist in the Desert (1518) and mannerist Rosso Fiorentino's Angel Musician (1522), where an insufferably cute little putto (cherub) plucks at an oversized lute—it's become quite the Renaissance icon in the recent spate of angel mania.

In the center of the Tribuna is ranged a handful of choice ancient statues, including a pair of wrestlers displaying a rather, er, interesting hold that is extremely illegal today (let us just say this hold is only practicable if you happen to be male and wrestle nude, as the ancient Greeks did), and the famous Medici Venus, a 1st century BC copy of Praxiteles' original Aphrodite of Cnidos (Praxiteles was the Michelangelo of Ancient Greece, though most of what we know of his work is through copies like this one).

Rooms 19–23: The Quattrocento beyond Florence

This is where the Uffizi most of us knew (and got mentally exhausted by) for more than 60 years really starts to change, thanks to the Grande Uffizi project.

Home for decades to mostly Northern Italian and Northern European works (which everybody would just blow through, intent on sticking to the Italian Renaissance), this string of small, narrow rooms with lovely frescoed ceilings have now become a repository for the Uffizi's greatest paintings by early Renaissance artists working outside of Florence in the 15th century—an era called, in Italian, Il Quattrocento.

Room 19 starts close to home, with the Quattrocento Senese of Siena, including to large altarpieces of the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints —one by Il Vecchietta and the other by Giovanni di Paolo—as well as works by Matteo di Giovanni and Sano di Pietro.

Room 20 has the greatest artists and works representing the Quattrocento from other regions Italy. Top honors go to Andrea Mantegna's Portrait of Cardinal Carlo de Medici and his Stories from the Life of ChristAdoration of the Magi, Circumcision, and Ascension (1463–70), a triptych showcasing his excellent draftsmanship and fascination with classical architecture.

Also here: Giovanni Bellini's Portrait of a Gentleman in his red cap and his Alegoria Sacra; and a pair of rare works by pretty much the only early Renaissance master from SicilyAntonella da Messina.

Room 20 held pretty much all the heavy hitters from the Uffizi collection of Northern Italian Quattrocento masters, so I won't tattle on you if you decide to breeze through the next three rooms: The Quattrocento of the Veneto in Room 21 (Vittore Carpaccio, Cima da Conegliano); the Quattrocento of Emilia-Romagna in Room 22 (Lorenzo Costa, Cosmè Tura); and the Quattrocento of Lombardy in Room 23 (Vincenzo Foppa, Bernardino Luini).

The connecting hall & Vasari's Corridor

Zipping through the Northern Italian Quattrocento is all fine and well, because as soon as you move on around to the second corridor you're going to be right back into the biggest heavy hitters of Old Masters.

First, however, most visitors pause to take a breather in the connecting hall between the two main corridors.

The Uffizi, built in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari for Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, were built as a long, U-shaped building—two long corridors connected by a shorter hall at the Arno River end. The painting galleries are up on the top floor, and the connecting hall (at the base of the "U") offers some fine intimate views of downtown Florence.

Pause to look out the tall windows in one direction down the Uffizi's elongated courtyard that opens into Piazza della Signoria at the far end, and then out the opposite windows for a panorama over the Arno River, Ponte Vecchio, and the Corridorio Vasariano (covered in the next section).

Photo gallery
  • "The Birth of Venus" (1484–85) by Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Even the corridors of the Uffizi are gorgeous works of art, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo by sébastien amiet;l)
  • "The Rucellai Madonna" (1285–86) by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Maestà di Santa Trinita" (1280–90) by Cimabue, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Ognissanti Madonna" (1306–10) by Giotto, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio" or "Presentation of Jesus in the Temple" (1342) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Annunciation" (detail) (1333) by Simone Martini, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Annunciation" (1333) by Simone Martini, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Incoronazione della Vergine" or "The Coronation of the Virgin " (1434–35) by Fra Angelico, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Incoronazione della Vergine" by "Coronation of the Virgin" (1414) by Lorenzo Monaco, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Adoration of the Magi" (1423) by Gentile da Fabriano, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" (1423) by Masolino and Masaccio, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Coronation of the Virgin" (1441–47) by Filippo Lippi, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Adorazione dei Magi" or "Adoration of the Magi" (1496) by Filippino Lippi, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Duke and Duchess of Urbino" or "Ritratto di Battista Sforza e Federico da Montefeltro" (1465) by Piero della Francesca, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Battaglia di San Romano" or "Battle of San Romano" (1436–40) by Paolo Uccello, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Madonna with Child and two Angels" (1460–65) by Filippo Lippi, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Saints Vincent of Saragossa, James, and Eustace: Altarpiece of the Cardinal of Portugal" (1466–68) by Antonio del Pollaiolo and Piero del Pollaiolo, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "La Primavera" or "Allegory of Spring" (1482–85) by Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Calumny of Apelles" (1496–97) by Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Adoration of the Magi" (1476) by Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints" (1483) by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Pietà con i Santi Giovanni Evangelista, Maria Maddalena, Nicodemo e Giuseppe d’Arimatea" (1490) by Pietro Perugino, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Annunciation" (1472) by Leonardo da Vinci, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Adoration of the Magi" (1480–82) by Leonardo da Vinci, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Battesimo di Cristo" or "Baptism of Christ" (1470–80) by Andrea Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Crucifixion: or "Crocifissione con i Santi Girolamo, Francesco, Maria Maddalena, Giovanni Battista e il beato Giovanni Colombini" (1485–90) by Pietro Perugino, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Crucifixion with Mary Magdalen" (1500–05) by Luca Signorelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Tribuna, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo by Michelle Maria)
  • "Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo with her son Giovanni de
  • "Playing Putto" (1518) by Rosso Fiorentino, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Medici Venus" or "Venere Medici" (1C BC) by Cleomene di Apollodoro, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Portrait of Francesco delle Opere" (1494) by Pietro Perugino, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Madonna and Child, Tondo" (early 16C) by Luca Signorelli, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Andromeda freed by Perseus" (1510–15) by Piero di Cosimo, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Moses Undergoing Trial by Fire" (1505) by Giorgione, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Allegoria Sacra" or "Sacred Allegory" (1490–99) by Giovanni Bellini, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Madonna and Child" (1470) by Antonello da Messina, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Adoration of the Child" (1524–26) by Antonio da Correggio, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "Portrait of Carlo de
  • "Triptych" (1463–64) by Andrea Mantegna, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • "The Medici Vase" (1C AD) by a Greek artisan from Athens, Uffizi: Secondo Piano—The first corridor, Italy (Photo by sébastien amiet;l)

Tips

Free admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Uffizi Galleries for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does the Uffizi take?

You can easily spend all day here, but a super-fast visit will take about 2–3 hours.

The ticket office closes at 6:05pm.

They start closing the galleries at 6:35pm.

Book ahead, book ahead, book ahead!

By all means book ahead. In summer, the line can last for two hours—no joke. In winter it's more like 30 minutes—but still, do you want to waste even half an hour? There are two solutions:

  • (1) You'll have less of a wait early in the morning and again around 1:30pm when most people are out having lunch.
  • (2) I highly, highly recommend ponying up the extra €4 to book tickets with a timed entry at tel.+39-055-294-883 or Select Italy.
Save the Uffizi for the afternoon

The Uffizi is open relatively late (it closes at 6:50pm—the ticket office and entrance closes at 6:05pm), and most of Florence's other sights are best seen in the morning, so it's wise to save the Uffizi for an afternoon.

It is also open late in summer (maybe): In some recent summers, the Uffizi has instituted a late-opening schedule, staying open until 9pm on Tuesdays. Let's hope they continue the tradition

"Grande Uffizi" = more art (but it may have moved)

Of the more than 3,100 artworks in the museum's archives, only about 1,700 are on exhibit—though now that the "Grande Uffizi" project has (finally!) expanded the galleries to the first (ground) floor, many more are being put on display.

Put it this way: Since the Uffizi Galleries opened, the only regular display space for its art has been up on the third floor (second piano in Italian). Anyone who visited over the past 75 years or so, that's pretty much what they saw.

In just the past few years, however, the permanent exhibit has expanded to cover a good three-quarters of the second floor (primo piano) as well—and though most of the new rooms are frankly a bit tiny (they weren't originally intended as gallery space), the fact remains that thousands upon thousands of square meters of wall space have opened up to display even more of the Uffiizi's embarrassingly rich collection.

That said, the Grande Uffizi project is not quite finished yet.

Works are constantly being rearranged in order to free up some of the older rooms for their first (desperately needed) refurbishment in roughly 60–70 years.

You'll still get to see them. Just don't expect them necessarily to be in the same place it says on your map or in your guidebook.

Also know before you go that the Uffizi sometimes shuts down rooms for crowd-control reasons—especially in summer, when the bulk of the annual 1.5 million visitors stampedes the place.

Hit the gift shop early

For some reason buried deep in the idiocy of Italian bureaucracy, the museum gift shop actually closes before the museum does (around 6:30pm).

If you'll be staying until closing time and still want a commemorative museum book, postcard, poster, or whatever, pop in before your visit to the galleries or during the middle of your time there (or plan to stop by again on some other day just to visit the gift shop).

How long does the Uffizi take?

You can easily spend all day here, but a super-fast visit will take about 2–3 hours.

The ticket office closes at 6:05pm.

They start closing the galleries at 6:35pm.

Book ahead, book ahead, book ahead!

By all means book ahead. In summer, the line can last for two hours—no joke. In winter it's more like 30 minutes—but still, do you want to waste even half an hour? There are two solutions:

  • (1) You'll have less of a wait early in the morning and again around 1:30pm when most people are out having lunch.
  • (2) I highly, highly recommend ponying up the extra €4 to book tickets with a timed entry at tel.+39-055-294-883 or Select Italy.
Save the Uffizi for the afternoon

The Uffizi is open relatively late (it closes at 6:50pm—the ticket office and entrance closes at 6:05pm), and most of Florence's other sights are best seen in the morning, so it's wise to save the Uffizi for an afternoon.

It is also open late in summer (maybe): In some recent summers, the Uffizi has instituted a late-opening schedule, staying open until 9pm on Tuesdays. Let's hope they continue the tradition

"Grande Uffizi" = more art (but it may have moved)

Of the more than 3,100 artworks in the museum's archives, only about 1,700 are on exhibit—though now that the "Grande Uffizi" project has (finally!) expanded the galleries to the first (ground) floor, many more are being put on display.

Put it this way: Since the Uffizi Galleries opened, the only regular display space for its art has been up on the third floor (second piano in Italian). Anyone who visited over the past 75 years or so, that's pretty much what they saw.

In just the past few years, however, the permanent exhibit has expanded to cover a good three-quarters of the second floor (primo piano) as well—and though most of the new rooms are frankly a bit tiny (they weren't originally intended as gallery space), the fact remains that thousands upon thousands of square meters of wall space have opened up to display even more of the Uffiizi's embarrassingly rich collection.

That said, the Grande Uffizi project is not quite finished yet.

Works are constantly being rearranged in order to free up some of the older rooms for their first (desperately needed) refurbishment in roughly 60–70 years.

You'll still get to see them. Just don't expect them necessarily to be in the same place it says on your map or in your guidebook.

Also know before you go that the Uffizi sometimes shuts down rooms for crowd-control reasons—especially in summer, when the bulk of the annual 1.5 million visitors stampedes the place.

Hit the gift shop early

For some reason buried deep in the idiocy of Italian bureaucracy, the museum gift shop actually closes before the museum does (around 6:30pm).

If you'll be staying until closing time and still want a commemorative museum book, postcard, poster, or whatever, pop in before your visit to the galleries or during the middle of your time there (or plan to stop by again on some other day just to visit the gift shop).

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).