The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Uffizi Gallery

Whenever you dive into the vastness of the web fishing for information about Florence, visiting Uffizi Gallery floats to the surface. It’s a big catch, one that is considered to be the most important museum in Italy as well as one of the most beautiful art collections in the entire world. Very few of those who find themselves in Florence miss the opportunity to peek inside. Art enthusiast or not, it’s bound to impress you!


The gallery resides in the U-shaped Palazzo Degli Uffizi in the historic city center and comprises incredible 93 halls scattered over two floors. You should be ready to soak up a great deal of information and even greater deal of art. Hence, before you go, it’s good to find out a little more and plan ahead. This guide is a great place to start!


Uffizi Gallery History Scoop



Not many people are aware that the imposing building known as the Uffizi Gallery was not meant to be a museum. Its story began in 1560 when Cosimo I de’Medici, the First Grand Duke of Tuscany. He commissioned new administrative and legal offices (“uffizi” in ancient Italian) for Florentine officials.


Demolition before Creation


Cosimo could very well afford it given at the time Medici’s power over Florence was secure and stable. Hence, he turned to one of his favorite artists and architects, Giorgio Vasari, who designed the grand building we admire today. To make space for the Uffizi complex, most of the buildings in the area had to be demolished including an ancient Romanesque church of San Pier Scheraggio. Some of the remains of the church's facade are still visible on the ground floor along Via Della Ninna street facing Palazzo Vecchio.


However, the old nave of the church was preserved and is encapsulated within the gallery’s ground floor near the museum entrance. Called the Hall of San Pier Scheraggio, it only opens for special events and celebrations.


Vasari's Secrets


Besides the power-resonating halls and opulent office spaces, Vasari also built a clandestine corridor. This secret passage connected the Uffizi to the Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palace as well as the church of Santa Felicita. In fact, it was constructed in celebration of the marriage of Cosimo’s son, Francesco and allowed the Medici family to move from their residence to Uffizi or to attend the mass without having to walk through the streets.


Vasari’s contribution to the building’s structure and appearance was crucial. However, the construction lasted over twenty years, and the talented architect passed away before he could see it through to the end. After Vasari’s death in 1574, another great artist, Bernardo Buontalenti, took over the project finishing it a few years later.


Gallery Beginnings


In 1581, Francesco I de’ Medici who took over to become the new Grand Duke of Tuscany after Cosimo’s passing. He reserved the top floor of the Uffizi’s east wing for his private gallery of statues, paintings, and precious objects. The heart of this unmatched private museum was an octagonal room known as Tribuna (Tribune) representing the four elements decorated with precious stones, marble, and shells.


However, what started out as a whim became a tradition. The collection grew vaster year by year with every member of the Medici dynasty making his or her contribution until the family died out in the mid 18th century.


Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici, the last surviving member of the Medici, made sure that all of the family treasures collected over centuries would never leave Florence. She willed most of the collection to the state of Tuscany under the condition that they would never leave the region. They were to remain “decoration for the State, for the utility of the Public and to attract the curiosity of Foreigners.” Her idea was to make the gallery public and share the wealth of art inside with all.


Opening to the Public



The gallery opened to public sixteen years after her death, in 1769. This initiative was possible thanks to the Grand Duke Peter Leopold. He took the reigns over Tuscany under the rule of Austrian House of Lorraine which stayed in power until 1860, the unification Italy.


Grand Duke Peter Leopold was a huge enthusiast and patron of art. Besides Uffizi, he also founded and opened the renowned Accademia Gallery which, today, houses Michelangelo’s David. When Peter Leopold took charge of the Uffizi, he reorganized the collection according to the new scientific criteria of Englightments and divided it according to art types.


For instance, the scientific paintings were divided from the purely artistic pieces and allocated to their own Museum of Zoology and Natural History commonly known as “La Specola.” To get a more realistic idea of how grand the Medici collection was, you will need to go beyond the Uffizi itself and visit many more museums in Florence as well as the rest of Tuscany!


Nuovi Uffizi Project


Since that time, visiting Uffizi Gallery became one of the most popular activities in Florence as well as the whole of Italy. Today, the fate of the Uffizi focuses on the project Nuovi Uffizi (New Uffizi) which entails modernization of all existing halls as well as building a new exit designed by Arata Isozaki.


The ongoing works associated with the project have already doubled the exhibition space allowing for better viewing conditions. Also, the collections have been reorganized according to the artistic periods or related themes. However, the Nuovi Uffizi is proceeding rather slowly as the board decided not to completely close the gallery to the public at any point of the reconstructions. Hence, the museum is receiving its well-deserved makeover including new spaces, lighting, air conditioning and security step by step. While it might be inconvenient at times, it’s still better than traveling to Florence only to discover the gallery is entirely off limits.


Highlights of the Uffizi Collection


Today, the internationally renowned collection covers the spectrum of art history from ancient Greece to the 18th century Venice. There is so much to see in Uffizi that diving in without little knowledge or planning can be time consuming and ineffective. Hence, here is a condensed guide to Uffizi you definitely shouldn’t miss.


The Tribune Room (Tribuna degli Uffizi)


As mentioned in the origins of the gallery, the Uffizi Tribune is the oldest room in the museum. It's opulently decorated with enamels and shells that play with the theme of the four natural elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) which was typical for the scientific curiosity during the Renaissance period. This room breathes the original spirit of the gallery, and it’s the only room that was designed with the aim of featuring art. The works in the rest of the gallery are arranged according to their artistic periods as well as famous artists.


Giotto & the 13th Century (Hall 2)


This hall is crucial to comprehending the artistic revolution of Tuscan painting that took place in the 13th century. Majority of pieces in the room display influence of Byzantine art meaning simple two-dimensional bodies and shart outlines.


However, three masterpieces stand out; three grand temperas painted on wood panels called Maestà (a portrait of the Virgin Mary on a throne).


  • Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna

Duccio was a model representative of the Sienese painting school that prioritized color and decoration over drawings. His Madonna, Madonna Rucellai, is slightly softened by a mysterious smile.


  • Maestà by Cimabue

Cimabue is the last of the Italian artist to paint under the influences of Byzantine art. However, watching his Madonna, you can see that something was changing. The Madonna resting her leg on the upper step of the throne foretells the unique experimentation that will make his talented apprentice Giotto famous.


  • Maestà by Giotto

Out of the three, Giotto is the true creator of modern painting who laid the path to Renaissance. His Maestà, Madonna di Ognissanti, is very different from the other two. She sits on the throne that projects space and shape and creates perspective. The subject, at last, is portrayed as real human being with both, body and soul, in a realistic space of this world.


International Gothic Style (Halls 5-6)


These halls introduce us to the painting style known as “International (Flamboyant) Gothic.” The style came into existence during the 14th and 15th century as a direct expression of the sophisticated, gracious, and often fairytale tastes of the royal courts.


To get an accurate grasp of this rather flamboyant style, check out the Coronation of the Virgin by Lorenzo Monaco. He emphasizes the opulence of the crowned Virgin instead of the courts and portrays her surrounded by saints above fairytale rainbow.


Filippo Lippi (Hall 8)


This room is entirely dedicated to one of the key protagonists of the early Renaissance period, Filippo Lippi. Notable works include:

  • Pala del Noviziato altarpiece
  • Coronation of the Virgin
  • Madonna with Child and two Angels

Lippi portrays slender and graceful figures, twirling clothes and streaming strands of hair with significant attention to the outline.


Halls of Botticelli (Halls 10-14)



The hall featuring the famous works of Sandro Botticelli is one of the most popular rooms in the whole Uffizi. Although it is currently closed for renovation, you can see some of the selected for in the Hall 41 including:

  • The Birth of Venus (1484)
  • The Spring (1482)

Both of these works are intertwined with mysterious symbolism and association full extent of which has not yet been deciphered.


Leonardo da Vinci (Hall 15)


This particular hall is known mainly thanks to several masterpieces created by the young Leonardo da Vinci. These are the works he painted before he left to Milan in 1482 to work in service of Duke Ludovico il Moro. When he was a young artist, and scientist Da Vinci trained his artistic craft with the grand master Verrocchio. The notable works in the room include:

  • Baptism of Christ
  • Annunciation
  • Adoration of the Magi

These works help you unravel the peculiarities of young Leonardo’s style specific only to his works such as emotional intensity, expression of feelings, and dynamic drawing.


Michelangelo & The Florentines (Hall 35)


This already renovated hall features pieces from a period known as “High Renaissance” until its final evolution into so-called “Mannerism.” The one artwork one simply cannot miss, is the Tondo Doni picturing the Holy Family with the child and St. John the Baptist by Michelangelo himself. In fact, it’s the only Michelangelo’s painting still in Florence as well as the only one he ever made not painted directly on the wall.


Why is it so important? It inspired and influenced generations of painters because of the many so far unseen elements it presented:

  • The bodies of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are depicted in a “serpentine” (a spiral pose)
  • The colors of the cloths Michelangelo used are very bright and unnatural
  • The figures in the background are nude (historians believe this was inspired by the Hellenistic marble (Laocoon Group) unearthed in Rome in Michelangelo’s presence.

All in all, in this hall, you will be able to observe how Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael inspired the new artistic movement, Mannerism (from the word “manner” meaning “style” in old Italian). The painters started to use:

  • Bright colors
  • Unnatural positions
  • Shift away from the simplicity of Renaissance painting


Andrea del Sarto (Hall 57-58)


Andrea del Sarto and Raphael used to share hall 26 on the second floor but were moved to the renovated halls of the New Uffizi project. Today, the works of Andrea del Sarto reside in the new red rooms 57 and 58.


The one Sarto’s work you should watch out for is the Madonna of the Harpies. It’s a perfect work to help you understand the influences the artist absorbed during his career including classicism of Florentine tradition as well as styles and techniques of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. It’s also a great example of the transition from Renaissance style to Mannerism


Raffaello (Hall 66)


Raphael resided in Florence for four years from 1504 until 1508. Although he didn’t stay long, he managed to paint many imposing works. The one to watch out, for instance, is Madonna of the Goldfinch.


This painting is the perfect representation of Raphael’s unique style in combination with the influences from Leonardo da Vinci:

  • The figures are arranged in a pyramidal composition typical for Leonardo
  • Gentle gestures, beautiful faces, and resonating calmness are distinctive features of Raphael’s personal style.
  • Another painting to focus on is the rather well-known Raphael’s self-portrait.


Titan (Hall 83)


Hall 83 is dedicated to the stunning works of Titian (Tiziano in Italian), a leading artist of the Venetian school.


Being great at painting portraits, the rich of the European courts of the time sight him out quite actively. In terms of his style, he focused on the color and its subtle shades as well as the light, landscape, and the relationship between nature and man.


The hall features ten works by Tiziano including the most famous of his works, the Venus of Urbino.


Caravaggio (Hall 90)


This hall is dedicated to the great artist Michelangelo Merisi better known as Caravaggio who died at an early age of 39 years. His most famous works include:

  • Shield with the Head of Medusa (a rumor has it that the face of the Medusa is, in fact, a self-portrait of the artist when he was younger)
  • Bacchus (A young man holding a goblet of wine with detailed features as well as the setting which make the painting appear life-like)
  • The Sacrifice of Isaac (Regarding religiously themed paintings, Caravaggio was the first one to represent the realism of every object captured as well as the pathos expressed sincerely and spontaneously in the characters’ faces through use of light and shadows)


Famous Statues around the Corridors



Although today the world knows Uffizi for the incredible collection of paintings, in the beginning, Florentines called it “Gallery of Statues.” Why? The first collection comprised mainly of ancient Roman and Greek statues.


The interest of the Medicis in antiques started with Cosimo the Elder and grew stronger with grandson, Lorenzo the Magnificent. Lorenzo went as far as to found the Garden of San Marco, an academy where many artists of the time such as Michelangelo came in contact with sculpture for the first time. Sadly, Lorenzo was the last ruler to benefit from the political stability of Florence. His son was forced to flee the city when his dodgy administration techniques were uncovered, and the statues were stolen.


It was Cosimo I, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, with his sons who revived the family interest in art and started to enlarge their collection with new acquisitions. Hence, today, you can admire pieces such as the statue of Venus in the Tribune or Niobe group which also has a hall of its own. Furthermore, numerous statues and busts are positioned along the corridors which line the u-shaped museum.


Uffizi Gallery Opening Hours


  • Regular Uffizi Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 08:15 am - 06:50 pm (Monday - CLOSED)
  • Ticket Office Closing Time: 06:05 pm
  • Free Entry for All: Every first Sunday of the month (no pre-booked tickets are applicable for this date)
  • Closed during Holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25

Any unusual openings or closings that deviate from this schedule are published in the official News section of the Uffizi website.


How to Get to Uffizi  


From any point of Florence’s historic city center (including the train station), you can reach the gallery within a 10-minute walk. You can find the entrances are in the left wing of the museum; the ticket office on the right heading towards the river Arno.


Uffizi Services


Audio Guides: Available in English, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Japanese.


Cloakroom: Located close to the entrance. It’s compulsory to hand in umbrellas as well as large bags and backpacks. Also, you cannot bring along any drinks including water. You have to leave them in the backpack or bag you submit to the cloakroom.


Cafeteria: Don’t worry, if you get hungry or thirsty, you can take advantage of the Uffizi cafeteria located at the very end of the second floor on a terrace over the Loggia dei Lanzi. It offers lovely views of the city and Palazzo Vecchio. Stop here even if you don0t want to buy anything to eat or drink, the panorama is worth it!


Post Office: Situated close to the exit is a tiny post office offering:

  • regular postal services
  • mailing of anything you bought in the museum
  • sale of collectors’ stamps
  • currency exchange


Book Shop: There are three gallery shops in total. Two are close to the entrance and another just before the exit. It allows you to buy guidebooks in multiple languages before you start your tour. For those interested in more detailed information, one of the shops specializes in related art publications.


PLEASE NOTE: Purchase your souvenirs before exiting the museum as it is impossible to access the shops without a valid, unused ticket.


Services for Visitors with Disabilities



There are elevators close to both entrance and exit of the gallery. There are fairly small so, at times, there might be a short wait.

  • To get to the Uffizi area with a wheelchair use the ramp on Via della Ninna (assistance recommended)
  • To get inside the Uffizi use the entrance number 1 which has a ramp. This access is for advanced bookings, groups, and individuals.
  • Advanced ticket sales are at entrance 2. However, there is a small step there
  • A large elevator is located in the Buonateli Gallery and goes to the Hall 38. You need to ask a member of staff to use it. Besides wheelchair users, the elevator is also available to elderly who are not able to use the steps.
  • If you need to use elevators during your visit, you should notify the staff as you get inside the gallery.
  • If your wheelchair is too large for the museum elevator, you can ask the staff to provide you with one that fits. There are five available at the museum for this occasion.
  • The restroom with disabled access is on the second floor in the third corridor; you will need to ask gallery staff for a key


Uffizi Gallery Layout


The Uffizi Gallery spreads over three floors. Your visit begins on the top floor which is, according to Italian standards, called the second floor. The easiest way to reach the top level is via a grand staircase from the 1500s.


  • The ground floor comprises the ticket office and main entrances along the U-shaped gallery. When you enter the museum, you’ll encounter a bookstore offering art history books, children’s books, souvenirs, and so forth. The bookstore is in the opposite direction of the entry into the museum. You can stop there before your visit to get a museum guide or after to get souvenirs.
  • The first floor features several intriguing halls such as the “Cabinet of Prints and Drawings” within the Uffizi collection. However, don’t stop there on your way up as, essentially, you will visit the rest of the first-floor collection after visiting the main exposition on the second floor.
  • The second floor comprises the most impressive pieces of the museum’s collection. The 45 halls located on this floor include antique sculptures as well as artworks from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Many of the most important works of art you’ve come to see at the Uffizi are on this floor!
  • There is a coffee shop at the end of the second floor just above the Loggia dei Lanzi. It’s a perfect place to rest and refresh while enjoying the view of the Florence city center and Palazzo Vecchio.


Visiting Uffizi Gallery: Plan Your Trip


Since the gallery is almost as famous for its long lines as for its art, we advise you plan ahead to avoid stress. To give you a better idea of the queuing odyssey, there are three different instances that can hold you up in a queue:

  • Trying to purchase the ticket in the ticket office
  • Collect the pre-purchased ticket at the collection point
  • Waiting to get inside with your ticket

Most people stir towards the official option regarding ticket and tour purchase. However, due to changes in the relationship between Italian museums and the government, the official Uffizi website offers information but cannot sell tickets.


Most third-party vendors provide skip-the-line tickets and tours, but not all of them offer the same kind of service. For instance, some vendors allow you to buy a Uffizi Skip-the-line ticket online but still require you to pick up the physical ticket at the gallery.


The Uffizi Gallery tickets and tours offered at DoTravel currently constitute the fastest way to get inside the museum. The promoters pick up your pre-booked ticket for you and escort you inside via a designated entrance. While it’s always better to book in advance, last minute bookings are also often available.

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Excursions From Florence: Florence Walking and Uffizi Tour


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