Although I am back in the United States, I had to finish this post about two of the most beautiful and respected art galleries in the world! I visited them the last week of my stay; it was such a hectic week! I spent most of every day sprinting around Florence, trying to see all that I hadn’t seen yet before my departure Friday morning. One of the greatest things about Florence is the close proximity of everything once you entered the downtown area. I was lucky enough to have my apartment near the Arno River, which basically cuts through the center of the busiest tourist area in the city.
The Uffizi Gallery is on the North side of the river, right down the street from my apartment! Construction began in 1560 and ended in 1581, making it one of the oldest museums in the Western world! Popular items in the museums are works of Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Giotoo, Michelangelo, Duccio, Simone Martini, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Caravaggio. Sadly, during the few times I visited the museum that last week, most of the works by Caravaggio were being restored by Uffizi conservators. Did I mention that my professor, Lorenzo Casamenti, often works in conjunction with the Uffizi on pieces like these? Simply amazing! I have so much respect for the work he does, a lot of it pro bono. So many of my favorite Renaissance pieces are here, including Botticelli’s “Primavera”, painted in the late 15th century. The Uffizi also houses one of the Roman copies of Polykleitos’s “Doryphoros.” No bronze sculpture made by a famous Greek artist has survived today, so Roman copies are extremely valuable in providing the only visual documentation of Classical Greek sculpture.
To the South of the Arno River is the Pitti Palace. Although construction began in 1458, it took many decades to complete. The palace held private residences up until 1919 when it was made open to the public as an art gallery. It took my roommate and me over four hours to walk the entire museum, not including the hours we spent exploring the Boboli gardens in the back of the museum on a separate day. Most of the galleries inside focus on Renaissance artists and are displayed in salon-style (hanging multiple paintings above and below one another in a collage-like formation). Although I’m not particularly a fan of this style, it is the really the only way to showcase the innumerable amount of art the Pitti holds. Each room is packed with priceless pieces, hitting you wave after wave until you’re numb with awe. A few of the rooms, previously bedrooms and waiting rooms to past owners, are left decorated as they were in the 17th century. These rooms are truly fit for royalty, all fantastically beautiful.
Neither the Uffizi nor the Pitti allow photos, so I apologize for the quality and small number I was able to procure in secret; let’s keep it between us! However, the experience of walking through both of these ancient galleries is memorable enough… the photos only simplify and reduce what was truly an amazing experience.