[Previous: Piazza della Signoria]
June 3rd, 2009
Uffizi (pronounced oof-it-zee) is kitty corner from Piazza della Signoria.
Having reserved our tickets online well in advance, we slipped in through gate #3 pitying the folks in the long line in front of #2. I wonder who these people are? “Reserving a ticket online saves standing in line” is one of Florence’s worst kept secret. Surely they went online to reserve their hotel, check air tickets, looked up restaurants or directions to Uffizi. Did they miss the tip-off? All of these 100s of people?
We shed our backpacks in the cloak room (no charge), trouped up lofty staircases and burst on to the 3rd floor. The next three hours were a whirlwind. Sculptures, paintings, frescoes, wall hangings. In my mind those hours are one elastic beautiful haze.
What can one say about Uffizi that has not been said for the past 300 years except that I would sincerely advise the readers of this blog (all three of you) not to visit it?
I mean the painting are AWE-SOME. What else can one expect when a starcast that reads Giotto, Lippi, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Parmigianino, Titian, Caravaggio…
In 1765, when the museum was thrown open to public and for the next 300 years, people flocked to Uffizi as that was the only means to see the masterpieces. In this age of deep digital zoom and Corbis, I would rather enjoy the artwork on a nice monitor lolling on a sheepskin Lazyboy with a Corona and a slice of lime..
The place does not add anything to the paintings. They were certainly not painted in Uffizi. After all, standing in Khufu’s chamber high above the Giza desert is a revealing physical experience. Walking the Inkan steps down to Machu Picchu at dusk cannot be digitized and re-enjoyed. But this?
The building designed by Vasari was meant to be an office building. It lacks the ergonomics a modern day museum mandates. The tourist trail is poorly designed, sometimes doubling back, often confusing. The paintings are wall-to-wall, yet poorly described (even the audio tour is pathetically shallow). The rooms can get hot. The crowd, plain nuisance.
And worst of all, the masterpieces are separated from the hoi polloi by a hemp rope. I cannot imagine the loss the world would suffer if a Caravaggio dissolved under easily accessible sulphuric acid nonchalantly flicked by a frustrated soul. (Michelangelo’s David and Pieta have suffered from this emotion). The paintings need to be stored in perfectly dark, hermetically sealed chamber, guarded like Fort Knox only to be brought out once a year to be photographed by future generations using the ever-improving equipment and technique. Period.
Uffizi has a rooftop cafeteria. The coffee is Italian average (which means Out of This World) and expensive to boot. A high wall cruelly surrounds the roof. If you are tall and can stand on your toes long enough or like me are shameless and stand on your chair in the middle of an elite crowd, you can see Brunelleschi’s dome competing with Giotto’s tower for primetime Florentine sky. As it has for 700 years.
I would go to Uffizi any day for just this view.