Uffizi – Simply mesmerising

Continued from my last post “Fascinating Florence

There are two must- see museums in Florence – The Uffizi  which is the largest and first of the modern museums in  the world. The other great museum  is the Gallery Academia which hosts Michelangelo’s David.The Uffizi museum housed the private collection of the Medici family who were great patrons of art and   opened as a museum in 1765IMG_1081. The Uffizi has the best collection of art works by the Italian renaissance masters of the 14th and 15th century. Entrance to the Uffizi is by way of the Piazza Della Signoria , one of the many  beautiful squares of Florence which is also bounded by the largest palace -Palazo Vecchio recognizable by its signature tower. We paid a princely sum for entry into the museum and a small fee to the hotel who arranged for our break the line tickets . After climbing two flights of huge stairs we  were inside  the gallery of sculptures . We spent a thrilling four hours in the museum and could have stayed longer but for the closing hours . The paintings are remarkably well preserved despite the age of the art works and I saw paintings dating back to 1400s .They are  mounted between transparent panels and the viewing experience was  enhanced by the lighting . The experience of viewing the exquisite master pieces was further heightened by a hand held audio guide provided by the museum which succinctly explained the paintings and sculptures and the history behind them. The museum is divided into  seventy three rooms dedicated to masters or periods .Most of the paintings that caught the eye were different visitations of  Madonna and Child. We saw paintings of the masters – Sandro Botticelli , Raphael,Michelangelo, da Vinci  , Fra Angelico and many more greats. I will pick out just   three which still remain imprinted in my mind  many days after our visit.

IMG_1079
Spring by Sandro Botticelli circa 1480

The first one is “Spring” By  Sandro Botticelli -The audio guide explained that there 500 identified types of plants and 138  types of flowers and plants painted to  the finest detail in this picture .The painting was commissioned by Medici and depicts six male and two females besides Cupid .

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Hercules and Nessus

 

 

One  sculpture that captivated us was  the   “Hercules and Nessus” almost at the entrance of the gallery in the Hall of sculptures .It dates back to the early Roman times and only a small part of it was intact. It has been  has been restored with the original fragments by Giovanni Coccini in 1595 and in the Uffizi since then. The sculpture depicts the killing of the centaur Nessus by Hercules

 

And the showpiece of the Museum when we wIMG_1087ere there was the “Adoration of the Magi” by Leonardo Da Vinci. He  was commissioned to do this painting but left it unfinished till it was completed by others 15 years later based on the charcoal sketches prepared by him.  It has been in the Uffizi since in 1670.The painting depicts Virgin Mary and child in the foreground with Magi adoring the baby Christ in the background. A lot of space in the Leonardo Room has been devoted to the process of  restoration at the Uffizi including this one .  Documentary Films on Da Vinci and restoration techniques held us in awe through the viewing .  The Audio guide was a great boon for us to understand the magnificent artworks of the masters in the Uffizi gallery. Most of   attractions in Italy have this feature and  I recommend you subscribe to this facility even if at extra cost . No amount of time spent in the Uffizi is enough as each and  every painting not only has a fascinating story to tell but also needs to be  marveled and absorbed  at leisure. And so after nearly four hours we left the Uffizi museum with tired legs and a feeling that we had not done adequate justice to the  great works of  art work on display. And also that we had missed visiting the Academia Galleria .Here are some of the great masterpieces  displayed in the Uffizi museum.Don’t miss the painting of the roof in the centre piece which is commonplace in all Italian churches and monuments.

We came out of the Uffizi with a feeling that we had experienced  very little of the Italian Renaissance art   and absorbed even less .We simply had to make another visit to the museum to feel satisfied  but that would mean compromising our itinerary . And that is the essence of Florence –  beautiful,  fascinating and you can never get enough . Makes you want to come back again !

One snippet of statistics I picked up  was that over two million people visit the Museum each year . Which led me to a a simple question – What is it like for the Taj Mahal ?  For the rest of our Italian trip I kept an eye on tourism statistics and did some research when I got back home to India. The results  startled me – Shall discuss my findings on tourism statistics with and comparisons with Italy in a subsequent post

After a long haul at the Uffizi museum we walkedSun cafe Florence out of the exit almost straight into the Sun Cafe on Via de Castellani. The price list made us wince but our aching legs took the decision for us .I had the most amazing Tiramisu which I would easily rate as the best on my Italian trip . Malati had a croissant which was freshly baked and nothing really to complain .(check out my review of the Sun Cafe  on Trip Advisor ). Surprisingly 80 percent  of the reviews of this cafe gave it the lowest rating of “Terrible” which was quite the  opposite of mine! But then most of the reviews complained more of the high prices-

Got back to the hotel  a short distance away and wasn’t too happy paying  14 euros for the trip. Most of the meter ticked in the slow moving evening traffic and to top it one of us did a double click on the AppTaxi  and got double billed on my card – To the credit of the taxi company all that it took for the charge  to be reversed almost instantaneously   was one tweet to them. In sharp contrast my UBER  account got compromised  last year in London  and it took me over a month to get the matter  settled after repeated follow up .

We hadn’t so far eaten in a Michelin  restaurant and the desire remained unfulfilled . even in Florence – We made a similar unsuccessful  attempt in Positano as well. We learnt that such restaurants need prior reservation and they are generally sold out as much as two weeks in advance .  We made do  that evening with   the   Florentine version  of Sea bass  in the Hotel and were told  by the Maitre and  I don’t vouch for the veracity of this – When Sonia Gandhi visits Italy and meets the Prime Minister and other dignitaries she does not speak in Italian but in Hindi out of respect for her adopted Country ! Apocryphal at best.

My readers have given feedback that my earlier posts were too lengthy and hence I close this post at about 1200  words – So much more in Florence to do and see – Its not for nothing that it is called the most beautiful city in the world . More in my next post

 

Continued in my next post The Leaning Tower of Pisa

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