Florence, Italy: A guide to the city’s most beautiful museums
The Academy of Fine Arts in Florence is one of the most popular and famous museums not only in the capital of Tuscany, but also in all of Italy, if not Europe. Its collection boasts a very solid age – the date of foundation of the Academy of Fine Arts dates back to the middle of the 16th century, namely 1561.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most popular tourist destinations and there are often long lines at the entrance, but it’s worth the wait to see the unique architecture of the museum and more importantly the unique works by the world’s greatest artists.
In addition to housing numerous masterpieces of painting and sculpture, the Palazzo Vecchio is an architectural gem in its own right, complete with rich interiors. Here you can also see a copy of Michelangelo’s famous “David” Michelangelo.
Palazzo Pitti is the largest palace and one of the largest museum complexes in Florence. To enter the Medici treasury, the costume and porcelain museums, and the Boboli Gardens, a separate ticket is required.
The House of Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari’s house in Florence is one of two landmark residences in the life of the great painter and art historian of the Italian Renaissance. In the house in Arezzo Vasari was born and spent his youth, in Florence – met the sunset of life and died June 27, 1574.
The House Museum of Dante Alighieri
One of the most beloved landmarks of Florence by fans of literature, the House Museum of Dante Alighieri is actually somewhat indirectly related to the great Renaissance poet. The building was only built in 1910 on the foundations of Dante’s House, so don’t get too excited about the “original” setting
Hall of Fame of Italian soccer
The main male attraction in Florence, the Italian Football Hall of Fame is located in the Football Museum in the contemporary Florence district of Coverciano. Despite the fact that the Hall of Fame did not open long ago – in 2011 – it boasts a remarkable number of visitors.
Built by architect Giorgio Vasari in just five months, the corridor between the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti was adapted into a self-portrait gallery in the 19th century. Here you can see what Raphael, Titian, Andrea del Sarto, and Bernini looked like.
The Museo Bardini is lost among the museum “stars” of Florence; there are few tourists here even in peak season, which makes it even more attractive. Stefano Bardini was a famous restorer and antiques dealer of the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Galileo Museum is a Florentine museum of the history of science located in the old town near the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Opened in 1929, it immediately got its hands on the medieval Castellani Palace (11th century), where it remains to this day.
“Museum for Boys” in Florence
The “Museum for Boys”, or simply Mus.e, is a cultural association and the main children’s “mast visit” of the Tuscan capital, where both boys and girls and their parents will be interested. The association is housed in the Palazzo Vecchio and offers a fascinating insight into the history and art of the city.
Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence
The inventions of the “universal genius” of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci, were so ahead of their time that the vast majority of them were never recognized until the 20th century. Drawings of amazing devices overflow his diaries, which have to be read with the aid of a mirror.
Museo de Opera del Duomo
The Museum of Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore is an alternative to the Galleria dell’Accademia. The museum exhibits masterpieces from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Michelangelo: “Pieta”, Proto-Renaissance (Hall of Arnolfo di Cambio), Donatello: wooden “Mary Magdalene” from the Baptistery.
San Marco Museum
Beato Angelico lived in the convent of San Marco for a long time, so it houses the largest collection of his paintings in the world. In particular, The Annunciation and The Last Judgment (1431). The cells on the second floor are also painted partly by him and partly by his students.
The fruit of painstaking collecting by the wealthy and patron of the arts, Frederick Stibbert, the Stibbert Museum in Florence is an incredible collection of artifacts and antiquities housed in a magical mansion-castle occupying the very top of Montuga Hill. Of the 36,000 exhibits, more than 16,000 are weapons.
Museum of soccer in Coverciano
The main “male” attraction in Florence, the Museum of Football is located in the modern Florence district of Coverciano. Despite the fact that it opened not so long ago – in 2011 – the museum boasts a remarkable number of visitors.
National Museum of Bargello
A separate room is dedicated to Donatello, the first floor has Michelangelo, and upstairs there are collections of knight’s robes, Arab carpets, ivory figurines and terracottas of the della Robbia family.
Bright, vibrant, sunny Florence, every brick of which has centuries of history, is presented to visitors as a vast and magnificent museum. Thanks to the fact that Florence was swimming in money during the Renaissance, the city managed to win the title of the cultural capital of all Europe. The list of the greatest masters, whose contribution to the world of painting, architecture, sculpture and literature is beyond comparison, is endless – all of them worked here and left a beautiful memory of themselves. Each museum is steeped in this importance, each one playing its own part in the whirlpool of history and touching the hearts of visitors from all over the world, leaving their mark on them.
One of the most popular places in Florence, besieged by gigantic queues of tourists, is the Uffizi Gallery. Fifty rooms of this huge and beautiful gallery contains works of the world’s greatest masters. You can see Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Giotto’s Our Lady, the Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo’s The Holy Family, Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Raphael’s Madonna with the Cheek, Caravaggio’s Bacchus and many other masterpieces of global importance.
Thanks to the fact that Florence was swimming in money during the Renaissance, the city managed to win the title of the cultural capital of all Europe.
The largest complex of museums in Florence is housed in the magnificent Palazzo Pitti. The complex includes the Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Museum of Porcelain, the Carriage Museum and the Costume Gallery. The most important is the Galleria Palatina with a collection of 500 masterpieces of world art, including 11 paintings by Raphael, 13 by Titian, paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rubens, Tintoretto, Bartolomeo, Bronzino and Pontormo.
Other notable palaces include the Palazzo Vecchio, with frescoes by Vasari and Bronzino; the Museo Davanzatti, located in Palazzo Davanzatti, one of the few 14th century palaces in Europe to have survived; and the Palazzo Strozzi, now home to a remarkable art gallery.
The Galleria dell’Accademia, another of Florence’s favorite tourist museums, whose main treasures are Michelangelo’s sculptures, especially his David, which has its own gallery.
The monastery of San Marco, still intact today, was for a long time the home of the monk Beato Angelico and now houses the museum, which has under its roof the most complete collection of his paintings, including the famous and beautiful “Annunciation” and “The Last Judgment”.
The Museo Nazionale del Bargello covers a huge part of the history of Italian sculpture. Here you will find one of Michelangelo’s first works, a sculpture of Bacchus, the god of wine, a bronze David by Donatello, works by Giambologna, Verrocchio and Cillini.
There are also house-museums in Florence. In the house-museum of Michelangelo Buonarotti, where he lived and worked for several years, you can see his very early works: the reliefs Madonna della Scala and the Battle of the Centaurs. Here you will also find his personal library and a collection of drawings signed by Michelangelo himself. The House Museum of Dante Alighieri is in the tower where one of the greatest Italian poets was born and where his priceless manuscripts are still preserved.
The 7 Most Remarkable Museums of Florence
Florence has over 70 museums and such a dense concentration of art-related objects is found nowhere else in the world. This, in turn, creates a real problem of choice among travelers who only visit the city for 1-2 days. To make it easier for you to navigate, BlogoItaliano has selected 7 of Florence’s museums that deserve attention first.
Before we get to the museums and collections themselves, we must note that Florence is also home to a number of notable religious sites. We didn’t include them in this list, but we have devoted a separate article to them – the 10 most notable churches and cathedrals in Florence.
The Uffizi Gallery is famous for its queues almost more than the masterpieces housed within its walls.
Millions of tourists from all over the world are willing to stand for hours at the entrance to see famous paintings by Botticelli and Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio, Dürer and El Greco.
50 halls, 2000 exhibits and 2 million visitors a year – this is the most famous Florence gallery, which is also considered the oldest painting museum in Europe.
The first collections were exhibited here in 1581 under Francesco I de’ Medici – almost immediately after the completion of the gallery.
Uffizi Gallery is 50 rooms and 2,000 masterpieces
Paradoxically, the building was originally conceived for a very different purpose – it was planned to house the offices of Florentine judges (hence the name “uffizi”, i.e. “offices”). The museum collection became available to the general public almost two centuries later – in 1765.
“Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Annunciation, Michelangelo’s The Holy Family, Raphael’s Portrait of Leo X, Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Caravaggio’s Bacchus – these are just a few masterpieces that make the hours-long line to the Uffizi Gallery worth the wait.
There is endless to write about the gallery and BlogoItaliano has devoted a separate article to it. By the way, you can buy tickets to the gallery online. It will save you time in Florence and allow you to see more.
- Opening hours: Tuesdays through Sundays: 8:15-18:50 pm
- Closed Mondays, January 1, May 1, December 25 and Mondays.
- Address: Piazzale degli Uffizi .
As famous as the Uffizi Gallery is for its collection of paintings, Palazzo Bargello is famous for its sculptures.
The National Sculpture Museum opened in the ancient 13th-century building in 1865. Before that, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (1255) was used as the residence of the chief of police, as well as holding prisoners and housing soldiers’ barracks.
Sculpture connoisseurs will find here one of Michelangelo’s first works, a marble sculpture of Bacchus, the god of wine, a bronze sculpture of David by Donatello, as well as numerous masterpieces by Brunelleschi, Cellini and Giambologna.
The sculpture museum is housed in an ancient building from the 13th century
Sculpture collection is supplemented by tapestries, Arab carpets, precious stones, terracottas, ivory, and knights’ armor.
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:15-17:00;
- Closed: every 2nd and 4th Sunday and every 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of the month
- Address: Via del Proconsolo, 4
Palazzo Pitti is a museum complex that includes the Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Porcelain Museum, the Carriage Museum and the Costume Gallery.
All the exhibitions are held in the palace, built in the middle of the XV century for the Pitti family and a century later it became the main residence of the Dukes of Medici. Over the centuries, the palace was completed and expanded, gradually acquiring a modern appearance.
The Palatine Gallery boasts a collection of 500 masterpieces of world art, spread over 30 rooms. The main part of the exhibition consists of the works of Raphael, for whom the stay in Florence was one of the most fruitful periods in his work.
Palazzo Pitti is a museum complex
Works by Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, Andrea del Sarto and other 16th- and 17th-century artists who worked for the Medici are also collected here.
The Modern Art Gallery, which occupies another 30 rooms of the palace, introduces visitors to paintings and sculptures from the late 18th and early 20th centuries, including works by representatives of the Macchiaioli movement: Giovanni Fattori, Telemaco Signorini, Silvestro Lega and others.
In the Museum of Silver, the most valuable objects from the treasuries of the house of Medici are collected: vases made of rock crystal, precious stones, reliquaries and pieces of furniture.
In the Costume Gallery you can see how European fashion has changed over the past three centuries.
In the halls of the Palatine Gallery there are works by 16th and 17th century artists.
Another unusual open-air museum is located near Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens, created in the 16th century for the owners of the palace. The streets, buried in flowers and tree crowns, feature numerous sculptures from all over the world and fountains that delight visitors with water games.
- The Palazzo Pitti’s opening hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m., Mon-Fri is the day off. The museum is also closed on January 1 and December 25
- Boboli Gardens hours: Tues-Whs: 8:15-16:30 (November, December, January, February), 8:15-17:30 (March, October), 8:15-18:30 (April, May, September), 8:15-18:50 (June, July, August). Weekends: Mondays, January 1 and December 25.
- Address of the Palazzo Pitti: Piazza Pitti, 1
In 1561 Giorgio Vasari, Agnolo Bronzino and Bartolomeo Ammannati founded the Accademia delle Belle Arti where painters, sculptors, architects and instrument makers came from all over Europe to study.
Two centuries later, the Academy was moved to a more spacious building, where today there is the Gallery of the same name.
The most valuable exhibit of the museum is the original “David” Michelangelo, which has its own gallery. It also houses his “Pieta Palestrina” and the statues created for St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican.
“Michelangelo’s David – the Gallery’s most valuable exhibit
Michelangelo’s work is complemented by paintings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including works by Botticelli, Scheggi, Perugino and others.
As a tribute to the Academy’s music department, from which the Florence Conservatory later emerged, the exhibition also includes a collection of antique musical instruments.
Tickets for the Galleria dell’Accademia can be purchased online on this page.
- Opening hours: W-W-WS: 8:15-18:50, Mon-Fri: closed
- Address: Via Ricasoli, 58-60
Dante’s House Museum
It is worth a disclaimer: the building that today houses the Dante House-Museum was built just over a century ago, in the 1910s.
So telling your friends that you walked through the same rooms and staircases where Dante Alighieri once composed his great works won’t work. But to plunge into the life and work of the great poet of the Middle Ages and to get acquainted with the historical and cultural environment of his time you will definitely be able to.
However, don’t despair either: the real Dante’s house on this spot was once upon a time.
The house and street corner where Dante Alighieri lived were restored in 1965.
The construction of the museum building was preceded by painstaking work by archaeologists to gather information about what Dante’s house really looked like and exactly where it was located. By 1965, not only the house itself, but the entire corner of the street where Dante Alighieri lived was restored.
The three floors of the House Museum of Dante Alighieri contain copies of manuscripts and illustrations of his works, as well as furniture, paintings, weapons and other objects of the era.
A separate part of the exhibition is dedicated to the beautiful Beatrice, the main heroine of the Divine Comedy and a real woman whom Dante met in the nearby Church of Santa Maria.
- Opening hours: Fri-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Aprs 10am-6pm (from November 1st to March 31st), Mon-Fri 10am-6pm (from April 1st to October 30th)
- Address: Via Santa Margherita, 1
The ancient XIV century building was for a long time the seat of power and even today continues to carry out administrative functions. However a large part of the fortress is still occupied by the museum.
The tower of the palace, which rises above the city for almost 100 meters, once belonged to the Feraboschi family and only later was included in the project of the palace.
There are still preserved bells of the XIII century, but the large XVII century clock that decorates one of the walls of the tower is only a copy of the original product of the Florentine master Bernardo of the XIV century.
The Romanesque fortress, austere in appearance, served no less austere purposes for a long time: prisoners (including Cosimo de Medici and Savonarola) were held in the palace tower, and conspirators were hanged from the windows.
The museum occupies a large part of the ancient fortress (14th century).
In 1540, the palace belonged to the Medici family, but 25 years later Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany moved his residence to the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Ducale (i.e. the Ducal Palace) became the Palazzo Vecchio (i.e. the Old Palace).
The Old Palace Museum is devoted primarily to the history of Florence, but here, too, a number of famous works of painting and sculpture can be found, including frescoes by Vasari and Bronzino, statues by Michelangelo and Donatello, as well as tapestries, an ancient map of the world and violins by Stradivarius and Amati.
The Palazzo Vecchio is also home to the “Boys’ Museum,” where young visitors learn about the city’s history and art in a playful way.
- Hours of operation:
- Museum and Archaeological Excavations: Mon-Fri: 9:00-19:00 (October through March), Mon-Fri: 9:00-23:00 (April through September), Thurs is day off.
- Mezzanine Loeser Bequest: Mon-Fri: 9:00-19:00, Thurs and holidays: 9:00-14:00
- Tower and fortifications (for those over 6 years old): Mon-Fri: 10:00-17:00, Thurs: 10:00-14:00 (October to March); Mon-Fri: 9:00-21:00, Thurs: 9:00-14:00 (April to September)
- Address: Piazza della Signoria
San Marco Museum
The Museo di San Marco occupies the former Dominican Convent building, rebuilt to a design by Michelozzo (1396-1472), the favorite architect of Cosimo the Elder Medici.
The monk Beato Angelico lived here for a long time and today the museum has a complete collection of his paintings, including the famous Annunciation and the Last Judgment.
The museum is located in the former Dominican monastery
The paintings on the walls of the cells on the second floor, some by Fra Angelico himself and some by his pupils, have also been preserved. In addition to the frescoes, the museum also keeps a number of manuscripts.
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8:15-13:50, Sat-Fri, holidays: 8:15-18:50;
- Closed every 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays and every 2nd and 4th Monday of each month; January 1, May 1 and December 25.
- Address: Piazza San Marco, 3
Useful articles about the city
Photos by: Alejandro, Erin Brierley, Olivier Bruchez, Michael Merideth, Roundabout.