The iconic Uffizi Gallery.
Chances are, if you’ve ever been to Florence you visited the Uffizi Gallery. Even if you’ve never set foot in the city, the name is probably familiar. It’s like the Eiffel Tower or Beyoncè of the art world. Or, another way of looking at it, is a sort of house-party for the artistic ‘greats.’ Giotto, Cimabue, Fra Angelico, Da Vinci, Botticelli and Caravaggio – to name a few – all mingle (metaphorically, obviously) under one roof. For an art history nerd like me, this is a cultural Mecca.
Given all this, it’s not surprising the queues often extend round the building, into the horizon. So where are all the hoards of crowds in the photo above? Good question. I’ll let you into a little secret, well not a secret, but a fact not many people make use of. I took this photo at a late night opening of the Uffizi; every Tuesday evening from May 31st to September 27th 2016, the gallery opens its doors till 10pm. This means there are sadly only two Tuesday late nights left, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for things like this, especially if you know you’re visiting Florence in advance.
I cannot describe how magical the whole experience was. My favourite pieces are in the first set of rooms which are normally obscured by giant tour groups, or keen visitors, who haven’t reached the stage where all the pieces begin to merge together. Yet, here I was, almost alone. I stood peacefully in front of these masterpieces, and absorbed every detail at my own pace. There were no aggressive ‘tuts’ from behind, or bony elbows to the side from impatient visitors (this actually happened to me before). I drifted casually through the rooms for a good three hours, and left the gallery in an almost meditative state.
For avid art lovers and intrigued tourists alike, this is a unique experience. If you’re around in Florence next Tuesday night, add it to your diary; if you’re not, make a mental note for the future.