For most visitors, a visit to Florence would not be complete without a few hours spent at the Uffizi, one of the oldest and finest art galleries in the world.
Despite its functional name (‘uffizii translates as offices, since the palace was initially built as a set of offices for the Florentine magistrates), the Uffizi Gallery has been a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces open to the public since 1765. It was a key stop on the Grand Tour of Europe, and is still an essential point of interest for tourists today.
Its collection of Renaissance art, classical sculptures, prints and drawings is vast, and itís difficult to see all of it on a single visit, so here are our top ten highlights to seek out (as well as their locations within the Uffizi Gallery).
1. The Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto (Room 2)
Often celebrated as the first painting of the Renaissance, this painting of Madonna and child showed a newfound naturalism.
2. Portraits of the Duke & Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca (Room 7)
An icon of portraiture, these warts-and-all profiles of the duke and his wife include his broken nose, damaged in a jousting accident.
3. The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello (Room 7)
One of three colourful paintings of a battle between Florence and Siena. The other two can be found in Paris and London.
4. Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Filippo Lippi (Room 8)
The Madonna in this beautiful painting is thought to be modelled on a nun with whom Lippi (himself a priest) conducted an affair.
5. The Birth of Venus by Botticelli (Room 10-14)
Perhaps the Uffiziís most famous painting, it was commissioned by the Medici family and depicts the goddess Venus rising from the sea as a fully grown woman, posed like a classical statue and standing on a seashell.
6. La Primavera by Botticelli (Room 10-14)
Was housed alongside The Birth of Venus at Villa di Castello until its relocation to the Uffizi Gallery in 1919. Art historians disagree on what it illustrates, although most agree its depiction of a group of mythological figures in a garden is an allegory for spring.
7. Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci (Room 15)
An early work by da Vinci, of the traditional religious subject of the annunciation. The angel holds a lily, symbol of Florence.
8. Doni Tondo by Michelangelo (Room 25)
This round painting of the Holy Family is the focus of the room, and is Michelangeloís only easel painting to survive.
9. Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael (Room 26)
Visitors to the Uffizi were only able to see an antique copy of this famous painting by Raphael for ten years, while it underwent restoration. Now you can see the original, which depicts the trio of Mary, Christ and a young John the Baptist.
10. Venus of Urbino by Titian (Room 28)
This classic masterpiece by Titian is unashamedly erotic, with its nude young Venus sprawled on a couch in her Renaissance palace, staring directly at the viewer.