Florence is one of Europe’s great art cities which makes it such an inspiring destination for our painting holidays. But, with so much art and architecture to take in; it’s almost difficult to know where to start. Luckily, most of the major historical sights and galleries are within walking distance of the centre. We’ve put together our art guide to Florence – so you can find out our favourite places for culture vultures.
1. Uffizi Gallery
Top of our list is, of course, the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi is one of the oldest and most visited museums in Italy and so there is almost always a queue stretching along the side of the building! Our tip is: book ahead. This way you can feel terribly clever as you skip to the front of the enormous queue, you’ll have more time to spend in the gallery, and all for a little forward planning and a small booking fee. The gallery is a labyrinth of frescoed ceilings, and halls and rooms full of the best of Italian art and sculpture. One of the best rooms is the one dedicated to Florence’s Sandro Botticelli. Here you can enjoy some of the artist’s finest and most famous works such as The Birth of Venus and An Allegory of Spring. With rooms of Ancient Roman sculptures, and endless works by the Renaissance’s masters such Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael you could fill several days taking it all in. You can also enjoy the fantastic views of the hills and the Ponte Vecchio from the enormous windows lining the corridors. Touring the Uffizi is one of the highlights of visiting Florence and is a must for any art lover!
2. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore dominates Florence’s skyline and the historical centre of the city. The Cathedral is the third largest in the world and entry is free, however it is definitely worth paying the additional €8 or so to climb up into Brunelleschi’s Dome. Incredibly Brunelleschi, a Florentine citizen with no formal architectural training, created an enormous dome that could be built without scaffolding. His idea was the double shell structure; with one built outside the other and the feat was a truly innovative engineering concept. As the building progressed the dome supported itself and the quick drying mortar allowed work to be done quickly. Today, the view from the top is perhaps the best way to see Florence and the 500 steps to the top are a great way to work off lunch!
3. Accademia Gallery
Giambologna’s plaster cast of his Rape of the Sabines that he made before he did the final, marble statue that can be seen in the Piazza della Signoria. The three figures are twisted on a vortex that allows infinite view points and invites the viewer to move around the statue. The final, marble version was crafted out of one piece of marble and so to see his plaster cast study shows great insight into his vision and the ambition of the task. However, the reason most visit the Accademia is to visit one of Italy’s most famous icons; Michelangelo’s David. Michelangelo’s statue of the biblical hero was undoubtedly inspired by Ancient statues, however as contemporary artist Giorgio Vasari put it: “no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it”. It is for this reason that some 500 years later, people still flock to marvel at its feet.
For those looking for Contemporary art on their painting holiday in Tuscany, the Palazzo Strozzi is the Centre of Contemporary Culture and is a fantastic place to see the present art of the city within a Renaissance palace. Palazzo Strozzi is incredibly historical and yet completely contemporary at the same time and showcases how modern artists have met the expectations of Florence as a centre for great art and how they have redefined it. The gallery has some fantastic exhibitions that showcase great contemporary art that is thought provoking and exciting. Exhibitions are incredibly varied and in the past have included themes such as our visual identity, portraits and power, and the idea of beauty. Worth a visit!
There is so much to see in Florence, this only scratches the surface, however it is a great place to start. For more information about our Italian painting holidays or speak to a member of our team today.
Have you been to Florence? We would like to hear where your secret spots for art inspiration are – so don’t be shy and tell us below!