The Uffizi encompasses the artistic developments of the Renaissance and beyond. It is a powerful expression of Florence’s extraordinary role in the history of art.
The gallery contains part of the Medici’s art collection, bequeathed in 1737 by Anna Maria Luisa. The building was designed by Vasari, in the 1560s, as the administrative offices (uffizi) of the Grand Duchy. Parts of the building and collection that were damaged by the 1993 bomb were restored and reopened in 1998.
Today people come for the paintings, but until the 19th century the attraction was sculpture (mostly now in the Bargello). The collection is displayed in chronological order, starting with the first stirrings of the Renaissance in the 13th century and ending with works by Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Canaletto from the 17th and 18th centuries. Uccello’s Battle of San Romano (1456) exemplifies the technical advances of the Rennaissance, while Filippo Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Two Angels (c1465) reveals the emotional focus typical of the period.
Perhaps most fascinating is the Tribune, an octagonal chamber with a mother-of-pearl ceiling. In the middle is the Medici Venus, whose sensuous derrière earned her the reputation of the sexiest sculpture of the ancient world. Portraits include Bronzino’s Giovanni de Medici (c1549), a smiling boy holding a goldfinch. The cafè provides a welcome pit-stop and has superb views of Piazza della Signoria.