One of the reasons that I love visiting the continent is that there’s just so much history. For such a relatively small geographical area, the diversity of the culture is pretty amazing – from the Moorish influences in Spain right up to the Viking and Saxon heritages of northern regions.
Italy is home to probably some of the most interesting historical sites and I have a massively long list of places that I need to get to. I’ve been to Rome and taken a whistlestop walking tour of Genoa during a cruise but that’s really it and I’d really like to check out some of Italy’s other highlights such as Venice, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Pisa, Milan, Turin…the list goes on.
Top of the list, though is probably Florence – the Tuscan capital is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance and is full of the some of the world’s most famous artwork and architecture.
Museums I’d love to visit in Florence
Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio
Let’s start with the big one first. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most popular museums in Italy, attracting over 1.5m visitors each year. Here you’ll find artwork by the big names of the Renaissance – Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Raphael and da Vinci – spread across more than 45 halls.
The large number of visitors, combined with the fact that the museum’s building weren’t originally designed as a museum (‘Uffizi’ means office and it was originally used administrative offices before being opened to the public) means that the queues are immense. It’s definitely worth timing your visit carefully and paying for tickets in advance to skip the line.
Oh, and while I was at Uffizi, I’d definitely pop outside to check out Ponte Vecchio – one of the few bridges in the world to have shops running across it. I’d also love to check out the Vasari Corridor, a passage built by the Medici to link Uffizi to the Pitti Palace but it would have to wait a while as it’s closed for renovation until 2018.
The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia is most famous for housing both Botticelli’s ‘Madonna and Child’ and a number of Michelangelo’s marble statues including the iconic ‘David’. But I’d also like to visit their musical instrument collection which houses a number of instruments used to entertain the Medicean Court (pianos were invented for them don’t you know) including the ‘Medici Violin’ handmade by Antonio Stradivari.
The Innocenti Musem and Palazzo Davanzati
Spectacular as the Renaissance artworks are, I’m also really interested social and domestic history so I’d be keen to visit a couple of Florence’s perhaps lesser known attractions.
The Innocenti Museum is part of the Institute degli Innocenti which is dedicated to the hospitality, education and rights of children. It’s the oldest public institution in Italy (founded in the 14th C) historically an orphanage and place where mothers could leave children they couldn’t care for. Today it continues to offer services to children, pregnant mothers and houses a UNICEF research centre.
Although their collection does contain more great artworks gifted to them over the last 700 years, I’d be most interested in visiting their archive which outlines the history of the institute and the stories of some of the children that have passed through its doors including their ‘mark of recognition’ – charms that were left with the children by their parents in the hope of helping them recognise each other again sometime in the future.
The Palazzo Davanzati is a Medieval house that has been restored to give an insight into Florentine domestic life between 1500 and 1800. The rooms are covered in intricate frescos and textile hangings and there’s a kitchen kitted out with the best Medieval and Renaissance mod cons. There’s also an extensive lacework collection covering the 16th-20th centuries.
I’ve not even mentioned the Museo Galileo with its collections covering the history of science, the Museum of Archaeology or La Specola, the city’s quirky natural history museum home to botanical and zoological specimens and intricate wax anatomical models made in the late 18th century to train medical students. But I honestly could ramble on about places I’d love to visit in Florence all day so I think I’ll leave it there for now!
Which museums would you visit in Florence? Let us know in the comments below.
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