We decided to tackle the Uffizi Gallery on the first Sunday of the month since museum entry was free. As expected, the line was quite long when we got there. The hold up was mainly the security checks that everyone has to go through to get into any tourist attractions in Italy now. By this point we were so used to seeing the polizia, Carabinieri and Italian Army everywhere that it was more disconcerting if we went somewhere and they weren’t around! We waited about half an hour to get in, but we weren’t too bored because they were setting up some car/bike display outside the gallery.
We had an audio tour on our phones and spent about two hours wandering around the Uffizi Gallery before heading off across the Ponte Vecchio to visit the Pitti Palace. We were happy with our decision to visit the Ufizzi Gallery and the Pitti Palace on the same day, since the Uffizi Gallery contains many pieces of artwork gathered by the Medici family, who also owned the Pitti Palace, so it was good to be able to connect the two.
The Pitti Palace was commissioned by a banker named Luca Pitti, but later sold to Eleonora di Toledo who was the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Medici family were initially bankers, but became very powerful. Some of them became popes and queens as well as the family being rulers of Florence. The Medici were the ones who built the Vasari Corridor, the walkway above the Ponte Vecchio that connects the Pitti Palace to the Palazzo Vecchio where the Medici family lived and ran the government before moving to the Pitti Palace.
The Medici family also had a large part in a lot of the Florentine art created during their reign, being patrons to artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo. The Pitti Palace was quite interesting. There were some pretty magnificent paintings and sculptures on walls and ceilings. One roof had sculptures of men in chains sitting around the sides with their legs dangling down. Another had sculptured people with their arms extended as though they were holding up the roof. It was all quite imaginative and impressive.
The Boboli Gardens outside were so large and well kept. They were a great mix of green grass, tall maze like neatly trimmed hedges to walk through, hills to walk up and see views and ponds to relax around. I could imagine the rich men and women spending the afternoon wandering around and finding quiet places to talk and rest.
The walk was uphill and very pretty. It’s hard to imagine one family owning so much while there were so many poor people around them. Even for the Medici family those times must have been tough though. They seemed to have often been in power struggles with other families and often faced the threat of losing their power, even being exiled from Florence more than once.