Museums of Florence
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the greatiest museums in Italy and the world. The Uffizi were intended to house the offices of the famous Medici family (Uffizi = offices). From the beginning, however, the Medici set aside certain rooms to house the finest works from their collections.
Today the Uffizi contains masterpieces by Italian and foreign artists from the 13th to the 18th century, such as Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Caravaggio, along with Rubens, Rembrandt, Durer, Goya and many others.
The Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) that connects the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace hosts a rich collection of self-portraits by past and present artists. Built by Vasari in 1565, it passes above the Ponte Vecchio, the "Old Bridge" (in fact the oldest bridge in the city), with its many jewelry shops.
Accademy Gallery of fine arts
The Accademy Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia) is one of the best known museums in Florence, because it houses famous sculptures by Michelangelo, including the David, The four prisoners and the Pieta of Palestina. There are also many paintings collected by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold to help the young Florentine artists, enrolled in the Academy of Arts school which is still next door to the gallery.
The National Museum "Il Bargello" has its setting in one of the oldest buildings in Florence and one of the most beautiful in Italy, which was begun in 1255. Initially the residence of the "Bargello" or head of police spies, from which it took its name, the building's use as a National Museum began in the mid-nineteenth century. What the Uffizi offers in painting, the Bargello offers in sculpture and its courtyard and interiors contain some of the masterpieces of the Tuscan Renaissance. It contains masterpieces by Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Cellini, Giambologna and Donatello alongwith priceless ivories, enamels, jewels, tapestries and weapons.
San Marco Museum
It is worth visiting the setting of the Museum of San Marco for its architecture alone. This consists of the former Dominican convent restored and enlarged to its present size for Cosimo the Elder de' Medici by his favourite architect Michelozzo (1396-1472). This building was the scene of fervent religious activity, highlighted by personalities such as Beato Angelico (1400-1450) and, later, Gerolamo Savonarola.
Fra' Angelico was a Dominical monk who later became Prior of the convent and who decorated in a style perfectly adapted to the architecture of the chapter house, cloister and the brothers' first floor cells. The museum offers the visitor an example of a perfectly preserved fifteenth century convent, its rational and harmonious plan based on Brunelleschi's innovations.
Everything is designed to coordinate and simplify the monastic life within its walls as much in its calm cloister as in the light-filled library, one of the finest interiors of the Renaissance. On the other hand, the museum also contains the works of Fra' Angelico in the form of frescoed interiors and the panels displayed in the large alms-house. The museum also has a very beautiful Last Supper frescoed by Ghirlandaio at the end of the fifteenth century, and, in its first public library of the Renaissance, a fine series of illuminated manuscripts.
The Museum of the Cathedral
The Museum Of The Cathedral ("Museo dell'Opera del Duomo") houses artworks from the Gothic Cathedral, the Baptisty and the Tower of Giotto (campanile). The most important works in the museum are by Michelangelo (Pietà), Donatello (Mary Magdalen), Arnolfo di Cambio (Boniface VIII) and Luca della Robbia (Cantoria).
The Pitti Palace, which was formerly the residence of the grand-dukes of Tuscany and later of the King of Italy, now houses several important collections of paintings and sculpture, works of art, porcelain and a costume gallery, besides providing a magnificently decorated historical setting which extends to the Boboli Gardens, one of the earliest Italian gardens famous also for its fountains and grottoes. It comprises the following galleries and museums:
The Palatine Gallery occupies the whole left wing of the first floor of the Pitti Palace, which was the residence of the Medici grand-dukes. In 1828, when Tuscany came under the rule of the Lorraine family, the most important paintings in the Palace, most of which had been collected by the Medici, were hung in the Gallery. It is an impressive collection comprising works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and other Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The paintings, which are sumptuously framed, cover the walls of the rooms in the style of traditional 17th-century picture galleries. The way they are hung and the rich plaster and fresco decoration of the suite of six rooms overlooking the piazza give the Gallery its particular fascination.
From the Palatine Gallery the visit continues through the Royal Apartments. They consist of fourteen magnificent rooms which were the home of the Medici and Lorraine grand-ducal families and, from 1865, of the king of Italy.
Modern art gallery
The Gallery, which is situated on the second floor of the Pitti Palace, has a fine collection of paintings and sculpture, mostly Italian, dating from the late 18th century to World War I.
The elegant rooms, which were formerly inhabited by the Lorraine grand-dukes, are decorated with works of the neo-classical and romantic periods. There is also a splendid collection of works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement and of other Italian schools of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Costume Gallery occupies the 18th-century Palazzina della Meridiana, a wing of the Pitti Palace overlooking the Boboli Gardens. The collection comprises six thousand items including costumes dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries, theatre costumes and accessories.
It is the only museum of the history of fashion in Italy and one of the most important in the world. A selection is exhibited in rotation every two years.
There are frequent special exhibitions devoted to particular aspects of the collection.
The Museum is located in the Summer Apartments on the ground floor and on the mezzanine floor of the Pitti Palace.
The Granduke Ferdinando I made these rooms decorated in 1635, on the occasion of his wedding with Vittoria della Rovere.
The Museum houses the important Medici's Treasure: the semi precious stone vases of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the cameos of Cosimo I, the rock crystal objects of Francesco I, the ambers of Maria Maddalena d'Austria, the wonderful ivory vases of Mattia de Medici and the famous jewels collection belonged to Anna Maria Luisa, the last member of the Medici Family.
The Museum is named after the silvers of the Salzburg Treasure, belonged to the Bishops of Salzburg and brought to Florence by Ferdinand III of Lorena in 1815. The Museum also houses an important collection of jewels made between the 17th and the 20th century by the most important Italian and European workshops.
An important new section devoted to the Contemporary Jewellery has recently been opened to testify the vitality of this historical Museum. A new setting houses the Japanese and Chinese Medici's porcelain collection, started from the Medici Family in the 15th century: in the same room is now showed another important collection, given to the Museum by the Scalabrino Family, including Japanese and Chinese porcelains and some European maiolicas.
Rising behind the Pitti Palace are the beautiful Boboli Gardens. They were originally designed for the Medici and are one of the earliest examples of the Italian Garden which later inspired those of many European courts. The gardens extend over a vast area forming an open-air museum with antique and Renaissance statues, grottoes and large fountains. Exploring its numerous and varied walks one is able to evoke the spirit of life at court and to enjoy the experience of a garden which continues to renew its natural cycle in keeping with the tradition.
The History of Science Museum
The Museum of the History of the Science houses an important collection of scientific instruments in a carefully arranged layout, the proof that Florence's interest in science from the thirteenth century onwards was as great as its interest in art. It was the interest of the Medici and Lorraine families in the natural sciences, physics and mathematics which prompted them to collect precious and visually beautiful scientific instruments along with paintings and other objects of art and natural curiosities; this provided the nucleus for this museum. It is well-known that Cosimo I and Francesco de' Medici encouraged the scientific and artistic researches carried out in the Grand Ducal workshops, but also members of the Medici family in the seventeenth century protected and personally followed physics experiments in the full light of Galileo's method. Very important the original scientific instruments used by Galileo Galilei
Gallery of the "Hospital Of The Innocents"
The Gallery of the "Hospital Of The Innocents" is set in one of the best known and most important architectural complexes of the early fifteenth century in Florence. This was commissioned and financed by the Arte della Lana to the designs of Filippo Brunelleschi. The "hospital" aimed to raise abandoned children and teach them some useful trade enabling them to take their place in society. In the buildings of the refectory, cloisters, dormitories, infirmary, nurses' rooms and porticoes, Brunelleschi created a perfect example of rational and harmonious hospital architecture subsequently enlarged and decorated with frescoes documenting the continuing activities of the institution and the favours of the reigning Medici family. After the 1966 flood, the entire complex of buildings was completely restored in an attempt to return to its original fifteenth century appearance. The Gallery is placed in the loggia above the cloister and in the former dayroom of the children above the main portico. The Gallery contains also fine works of a collections made up over the centuries by gifts, bequestes and loans, apart from works, specifically executed for the Innocenti itself.
Palazzo Vecchio, a monument of exceptional artistic and historic importance, has been the city's political center over the centuries. The building was erected as the seat of the Priors of the Guilds, probably according to the plans of Arnolfo di Cambio (XIII-XIV centuries). It was then the home of the Signoria of the Republic until 1540, when Cosimo I de' Medici made it the residence of the Duca's family. Vasari then converted it into a sumptuous palace in which the outstanding highlights are the Salone dei Cinquecento, the precious Study of Francesco I, the fine frescoes in Eleonora's Apartments and the Rooms of the Elements. The frescoes were made by artists such as Vasari, Ghirlandaio, Francesco Salviati and Bronzino.
In the Palazzo we also find some sculptural masterpieces from the Renaissance, including the Genius of Victory by Michelangelo and the bronze Judith and Holofernes by Donatello.
The church of Santa Maria del Carmine houses one of the greatest tributes to painting of all time: the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, begun by Masolino and Masaccio, and finished by Filippo Lippi after the latter's death. The recent lengthy restoration brought to light the evenness of the large decorative cycle that was conceived by Masolino and Masaccio in strict collaboration.
The twelve scenes, starting with The Original Sin and up to the Scenes from the Life of Saint Peter, illustrate the story of salvation achieved by the Church through Saint Peter. Along with the high quality of painting by Masolino, the frescoes demonstrate Masaccio's great precision in his use of perspective in the scenes and the volumetric power of the figures. The most famous of all are the dramatic Expulsion and The Tribute Money. All XIV century Florentine artists were greatly influenced by these scenes.
The museum created by Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906) is a rare example of a XIX century museum setting. The charm of every room was created to evoke the atmosphere of the period and the origin of the works. The renovation of the Villa di Montughi was made by great contemporary architects and decorators who created a home-museum of great fascination.
The collection reflects Stibbert's interests in the history and customs of diverse cultures, and includes weapons, armor, costumes, furnishings, examples of the applied arts, and XVI to XIX century tapestries and paintings. The most important part is dedicated to European, Middle-Eastern and Japanese arms and armor. Particularly impressive is the Sala della Cavalcata, where a line-up of life sized European and Islamic mounted soldiers recreate a scene from the past. Also of great esteem is the collection of costumes, now in a new setting.