Best Art Galleries in Italy

Molly Wallis

No trip to Italy is complete without visiting the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence. These  two famous galleries  are filled with unique and exquisite paintings and sculptures. 

The Uffizi Gallery is considered an architectural masterpiece of the Renaissance period and it contains a huge collection of the Medici family’s art. 

The Galleria dell’ Accademia is most famous for Michelangelo’s “David”. 

Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence

"David"by Michelangelo at Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence

“Nor has there ever been seen a pose so fluent, or a gracefulness equal to this, or feet, hands and head so well related to each other with quality, skill and design.” With these words Giorgio Vasari attempts to define the reasons behind the marvel that the vision of David provokes in the observer. “

This statement captures it all!

Mollywozhere ...staring at David captivated beyond words. Absolutely magnificent.

There are other beautiful sculptures and art in the galleria other than “David” but he is definitely the main attraction and draws in the crowd. 

Another work of art by Michelangelo not to be missed is the sculpture of the “Couching Boy” in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. Like the sculpture of “David”, the “Crouching Boy” is simply stunning and a masterpiece.

I was curious about the holes in these statutes that made them look like the work was defective or that the sculptures were diseased of some kind. It turned out that neither was the case. The holes are a result of the casting process in which rods were used to ensure proportionality. and features intended, I think.

This is a very exquisite embroidery in silk, silver and gold threads, signed and dated 1336, of stories from the Virgin’s life, Saints and the Prophets David and Abraham.  This photo does not do it justice. It has to be seen to appreciate the quality and intricacy of such work as well as its beauty. I could not resist taking this photo and including it here as a ‘must see”. 

Coronation of the Virgin embroidery by Jacopo Di Cambio

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Uffizi Gallery is a huge place and contains lots of masterpieces  -paintings, sculptures, architecture, books and archives – as well as prints and drawings.

One can spend a whole day in the Gallery but alas most are able to spend a few hours. I concentrated my time on the paintings and sculptures. And I will probably return to see the rest. 

Here is a selection of my highlights and those that I would recommend you to see. 

"Spring" by Botticelli

La Primavera (also known as 'Spring') by Botticelli at Uffizi Gallery, Florence

La Primavera painting is a celebration of love, peace and prosperity. There are 138 different species of plant that have been identified in the painting, each one which Botticelli has meticulously reproduced. It is simply a joy to look at. 

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli at Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Birth of Venus captures the moment when the goddess of love and beauty, born of the sea foam and propelled by the winds, reaches the island of Cyprus. It is said that Botticelli sought his inspiration win the models of classical antiquity for Venus’ modest pose as she attempts to cover her charms with her long blonde hair.

Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi

Madonna and Child with Two Angels by Filippo Lippi, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

I have seen a few famous paintings of Madonna and Child but I had not seen one painted by this Artist – Filippo Lippi.  

This painting is remarkable for its freshness and its natural spontaneity. To me, it tells a story of a strong bond of love and affection between mother and child, and one one simple elegance, if I can describe elegance as simple! I can see how this composition is considered a success and used by many artists including young Botticelli.

It is a very beautiful and stunning painting.

Venus of Urbino by Titian

Venus, known as the "Venus of Urbino"

Venus, known as the “Venus of Urbino” is a painting of a nude woman. It shows a young bride waiting to be dressed by her maids who are busy in the background choosing her clothes for the celebration of a domestic ritual known in Venice as the “toccamano” (touching of hands). In touching the groom’s hand, the bride gave her consent to wed him. The vase of myrtle on the window ledge and the lap dog at the girl’s foot are also marital symbols. Her pose echoes the Classical iconography of Venus.

The "Doni Tondo" by Michelangelo

I loved all the paintings in the Uffizi Gallery.  But if I were to choose one as my favourite, it would have to be “The Doni Tondo”  by Michelangelo. This painting wins hands down for me, no question!

It occupies a pride of place in the Gallery – a whole wall is devoted to it. . The painting is huge and is mounted in a panel – a white ‘dinner plate’ type of frame with a silver trim. How cool is that!!

The “Doni Tondo”is said to have been conceived by Michelangelo as if it were a sculpture, in which the pyramidal composition of the group takes up almost the entire height and width of the panel. The young nudes at the back of the painting are said to represent pagan humanity and so were separated from the Holy Family by a short wall that represents sin.  The frame around the painting is said to have been designed by Michelangelo and carved in wood by a master craftsman of its time. The frame shows carvings of the head of Christ and those of four prophets. 

The “Doni Tondo” is simply stunning; even the blue loin cloth seemed to come alive against the other vibrant colours around it.  I spent quite some time staring at it in awe. 

If you go to Florence,  and can spare even a few hours, head to the Uffizi Gallery to see these magnificent works of art. You may have to book ahead as the Gallery gets busy during the peak season. I would strongly recommend making an effort to see the “Doni Tondo” as well as the other paintings that I have shared with you here. You will not regret it, I promise you. 

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