For painting holidays in Italy, visiting Florence is an absolute must. The capital of Tuscany and Italy’s hub of Renaissance art, few cities in the world have such a rich and well-preserved artistic heritage as Florence.
Here, generations-worth of Italy’s great artists, from the forefathers of the Renaissance - such as Giotto, Donatello and Brunelleschi - to the leaders of high-Renaissance art in Italy - Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci - have all been immortalised in one of the densest collections of art galleries on the planet; absolute heaven for anyone on a painting holiday in Italy.
More concentrated than any other city in Italy, Florence has over 60 world-class museums and art galleries to choose from, all packed with incomparable artworks, such as the Renaissance sculptures at the Bargello; paintings of the Golden Ages at the Palatina; Fra Angelioc’s work at the Museum of San Marco; the mosaics at the Florence Baptistery; the Cathedral frescoes; The Gallery of Modern Art… the list goes on. But there’s one gallery in Italy that will be on everyone’s list and, despite being a bit of a cliché, is our overriding favourite…
The Uffizi art museum is one of the oldest and most famous galleries in the world and no painting holiday in Italy would be complete without a visit. The building itself dates back to 1560 and began life as the offices for the Florentine magistrates of the Cosimo I de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany - Uffizi means offices in Italian.
Throughout its lifespan, the palace has been used to display some of Italy’s most prestigious masterpieces, with the Medici setting aside rooms to house the finest works. As time as passed, more and more areas of the building have evolved into art-space. But, as you’ll discover on a painting holiday here, even the building itself is a work of art; every aspect of the Uffizi has been remarked upon for its form, composure and artistic expression and once attracted artists such as da Vinci and Michelangelo who would come here to study and marvel at the works and seek inspiration. It’s oldest exhibition space, the Tribuna, is an elaborately decorated, domed hall hung with Bronzino portraits and, outside the main galleries, its corridors are adorned with fascinating frescoes; its central courtyard has views through to the river Arno and the cafe terrace overlooks a breath-taking Florentine skyline - painting holidays in Italy don’t get much better than this!
The Uffizi gallery has been made available to visitors by request, since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it officially opened its doors to the public, welcoming tourists from Italy and across the globe. Today, the museum displays works from the 13th to 18th century and is most famous for its Renaissance collections, housing some of Italy’s classic artworks such as da Vinci’s The Annunciation and The Adoration of the Magi; Botticelli’s Primavera and The Birth of Venus; Michelangelo’s The Doni Tondo; Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch.
The second most important museum in Italy after the Vatican museum in Rome, and referenced countless times in popular literature, it’s not to see why painting holidays in Italy will undoubtedly lead you here. The Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence and, in the peak summer months, waiting times can be up to five hours. To avoid the longer queues, advance booking is advisable, as pre-booked ticket holders are given fast-track access via a priority queuing system. The other option is to arrive before opening time, avoiding both the booking fee and long queues, but with the drawback of an early start!
Ticket reservations can be made online or in the reception halls of the New Uffizi. The booking office is usually open from 8:30 till 19:00, Tuesday to Sunday