The venerable Uffizi Gallery occupies two floors of the U-shaped Palazzo degli Uffizi, designed by Giorgio Vasari (1511–74) in 1560 to hold the uffici(administrative offices) of the Medici grand duke Cosimo I (1519–74). Later, the Medici installed their art collections here, creating what was Europe's first modern museum, open to the public (at first only by request) since 1591.
Among the highlights are Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano, its brutal chaos of lances one of the finest visual metaphors for warfare ever captured in paint (in returned from a glorious restoration in the summer of 2012); the Madonna and Child with Two Angels, by Fra Filippo Lippi (1406–69), in which the impudent eye contact established by the angel would have been unthinkable prior to the Renaissance; the Birth of Venus and Primavera by Sandro Botticelli (1445–1510), the goddess of the former seeming to float on air and the fairy-tale charm of the
latter exhibiting the painter's idiosyncratic genius at its zenith; the portraits of the Renaissance duke Federico da Montefeltro and his wife Battista Sforza, by Piero della Francesca (circa 1420–92); the Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael (1483–1520), and check out the brilliant blues that decorate the sky, as well as the eye contact between mother and child, both clearly anticipating the painful future; Michelangelo's Doni Tondo; the Venus of Urbino by Titian (circa 1488/90–1576); and the splendid Bacchus by Caravaggio (circa 1571/72–1610). In the last two works, the approaches to myth and sexuality are diametrically opposed (to put it mildly). Don't forget to see the Caravaggios, which you'll pass through during the exiting process. In summer 2012, many new rooms were opened (complementing the blue rooms housing non-Italian art which occurred the year before) and, at this writing, rooms were continuing to be added. This means that getting out of the museum takes even longer; don't think you've missed the Raphaels, which used to live in the room next door to Michelangelo's stunning panel painting. And don't think you've missed the Michelangelo, as in winter 2013 it was moved from Sala 25 to Sala 35. At this writing, and at last count, the Uffizi numbered 102 rooms, many of which were empty awaiting more recent, non-Italian Renaissance additions.
Late in the afternoon is the least crowded time to visit. For a €4 fee, advance tickets can be reserved by phone, online, or, once in Florence, at the Uffizi reservation booth (advance tickets Consorzio ITA, Piazza Pitti 1 055/294883) at least one day in advance of your visit. Keep the confirmation number and take it with you to the door at the museum marked "Reservations." In the past, you were ushered in almost immediately. But overbooking (especially in high season) has led to long lines and long waits even with a reservation. Taking photographs in the Uffizi has been legal since summer 2014, and has contributed to making this what-ought-to-be-a-sublime-museum-going experience more of a day at the zoo. Remember that this museum is free on the first Sunday of each month; this is a day to avoid the museum, unless you're partial to crowds. . When there's a special exhibit on, which is often, the base ticket price goes up to €12.50.