Uffizi - with or without a guide?

Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 02:45 AM
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Uffizi - with or without a guide?

Will it be a more interesting visit with a guide, or are guidebooks sufficient?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 04:37 AM
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Last thing I'd want in one of the most crowded museums in the world is being squeezed into a cattle herd and running after a guide...
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 04:47 AM
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Many of my friends visiting Florence were overwhelmed by the Uffizi. A couple of them didn't reserve entry ahead of time, so I'm sure that was part of it, but I'm equally sure that they probably needed a local guide to get the most out of the experience.

We didn't use a guide, though, and we totally enjoyed the museum. The Uffizi is pretty big, but it's mostly in chronological order. If you know a general history of the evolution of Renaissance art BEFOREHAND and have some sort of guidebook with you, you'll be fine without a tour guide. We toured it with our two kids after watching Sister Wendy's "The Story of Painting" at home and also had two guidebooks with us to fill in the gaps. We were able to eavesdrop on some tour groups and could assess that we were pretty much up to speed on what we were seeing.

However, in the Barghello--one of our favorite Florence museums in our week's stay there--our eavesdropping told us we could have enjoyed it even a bit more with a good guide.

So back to the adage "Chaque a son gout"
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 05:40 AM
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quokka's post notwithstanding, I think a GOOD guide can be a wonderful way to see something as large as that museum. And if it is a good guide, you'll get more out of the visit than just walking around.

Does Uffizi have audio guides? That can work also.

I'm for something in the middle-a guide for the highlights then plenty of time to return to the things you enjoyed.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 05:59 AM
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The Uffizi does have audio guides that can be rented for a few extra Euros.

I was very comfortable wandering around the museum on my own, and I loved that I could spend as much time as I wanted gazing at a painting.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 06:01 AM
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"I'm for something in the middle-a guide for the highlights then plenty of time to return to the things you enjoyed."

I totally agree, TDudette. We had a great guide for the Sistine Chapel. He was able to get us to the high spots quickly and give us some great insights--and then periodically he would urge us to "discover" some of the works nearby for ourselves. As a result, we felt we didn't miss the "big stuff" yet had time to soak up the atmosphere. We spent many hours at the Vatican that day, but we did not leave exhausted and overwhelmed by the art, the heat and the crowd.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 06:05 AM
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The best way to answer this - would you hire a guide when visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York? If not, I can't see why you'd want one at the Uffizi. The Uffizi is no different than large art museums anywhere else in the world - you can rent self guided audio units in English. They may even offer English speaking tours at certain times. I would definitely pre reserve tickets however.
Just fyi - when we were there several years ago the ONLY restrooms in the entire museum were at the far end of the building, by the cafeteria.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 06:09 AM
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Thanks everyone. I've never used a guide for a museum before but eavesdropped on knowledgeable guides while visiting Versailles and Colosseum several years back. They bring the site alive. Similarly when doing the walks in London and Berlin.

Maybe it is different when looking at art pieces. Will look for story of painting and read a bit abt Renaissance art.

Is the audio guide good? I've always used them whenever I visit museums... some aren't as good as others though. They're money well worth spending in my view
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 06:44 AM
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I didn’t like the way audio guide was organized; in some rooms it described the paintings that were not displayed at the time and it was somewhat frustrating. I had wonderful guided tour at Louvre and some other museums. I think all depends on your time in Florence.
Frommer’s room by room guide that is easier to follow: http://www.frommers.com/destinations...051020029.html
Many helpful tips I receved last year - the best one was to purchase tickets in advance:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...a-question.cfm
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 07:00 AM
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There has been a lot on this forum lately about the Uffizi, a fair amount of it negative. We've loved the museum both times we've visited in the last 5 years. In the Ufizzi, and other "big" art museums in Europe, we've followed the Rick Steves tour in his books. They are easy to follow, place the art in the appropriate historical context, and really provide a good overview for appreciating the art. I really like the way his tours go in chronological order, demonstrating the evolution of various art techniques. Finally, the tour of the Uffizi with the Rick Steves book lasts about 90 minutes, which is just about right.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 07:20 AM
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Zootsi's question intrigued me. No, I would not consider using a guide at the Met, but I think my reasoning would be that I'd have plenty of opportunities to come back and revisit that museum. I feel the same about the Louvre and d'Orsay. I only use audioguides in all three places for special exhibits--I don't like feeling "tethered", especially as has been mentioned than some audioguides aren't of good quality.

However, on a trip that can be back-to-back museums and art, most of which may only be "one visit per lifetime", it makes sense to make the most of one's time and energy. Many people combine the Uffizi and Accademia (and even more) into one day. I'm not suggesting that they do so! But if their itinerary demands that, I would think a good tour guide would most certainly help make the visits into memories rather than blurs.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 04:50 PM
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I have rented audios for special exhibits in "my" museums (or is that musea?) in DC. It's nice to be able to stand 10 feet away and listen to new info while I look.

Some audios/guides are certainly better than others. We rented one in Trieste in Max's palace and it was interminable!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 05:20 PM
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We did a tour of the Uffizi with a guide from http://www.artviva.com/florence_italy_tour.htm and were glad we did. No lines plus we learned a lot more than we would have on our own. It's very easy to get sensory overload there so we enjoyed letting someone navigate the huge museum and show us the highlights. We actually did their Florence in a Day tour (and enjoyed all 3 tours), but you could choose to do only the Uffizi.
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