Everywhere I went in Florence I was aware of the Medici balls. Prominent on the family crest and a symbol of the power of the de Medici family, I grew quite fond of them. No surprise then to find them here at the Uffizi Gallery. Cosimo 1 de Medici entrusted the task of creating another grandiose building alongside the Palazzo Vecchio to his favourite architect, Giorgio Vasari. The intention was to house the offices of the Florentine magistrates, the Tribunal and the state archive under one roof, uffizi meaning ‘offices’.
The de Medicis had distinctly magpie tendencies when it came to art works, and the top floor of the Uffizi was used to showcase these. Viewing, of course, was for the select few. Today it is an enormous privilege to be able to climb the stairs to see some of their collection, among the finest art in Europe. It was with excitement and just a little trepidation that I climbed those stairs.
I am in no way a serious appreciator of art. I like what I like, but still there is the desire to be awed by masterpieces that have world renown. Who can not have heard of Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Botticelli? And all under one quite amazing roof space! Persuading one foot to follow another was as much as I could do as I gazed upwards at the ceiling, a work of art in itself.
It was early morning and the gallery was filling slowly. I tried to keep track of the artworks but inevitably I was drawn to some pieces more than others. The most acclaimed works swiftly attracted a small crowd, but there were pockets of peace in between times, if you were patient. I began with Giotto and the Gothics. The Visit Florence website will guide you much better than I can, and there is a detailed itinerary too.
So many very lovely creations, in such opulent surroundings! Did you recognise many? At times I did not know whether to look at the art or the ceilings. And then there was that celebrated view from the windows. Only the weather disappointed.
An outside terrace looks out on Palazzo Vecchio, and then it’s downstairs to Da Vinci, and some rather engaging characters.
I always did have a soft spot for Musketeers. The Uffizi has weathered some rough times, including major flooding in 1966 and a car bomb explosion in 1993. A fuller history is covered here. It took a little while to emerge into the real world, but en route I managed to purchase a stamp and send my postcard of Ponte Vecchio winging its way to Viveka in Sweden. I know she’ll return the favour when she visits next year.