Palazzo Uffizi - Wealth and Power of Florence
Florence is a beautiful city. A new treasure is waiting behind every corner. Churches, Museums, parks, normal buildings even your local pizzeria can hold some treasure if you keep your eyes open. Once a nation itself, a global powerhouse, great treasures from the 15th to 19th abound. It is only fitting that the public offices, or Palazzo Uffizi, from that period reflect the opulence of the period.
Designed in 1559 by Giorgio Vasari and completed in only 5 years, the horseshoe shaped palace connects Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio and with a scenic view of the Arno, the river that runs through the center of Florence. This building was designed to hold the offices of the 13 divisions of the court. The entire first floor held offices for the artisans who masterfully worked metals, precious stones, tapestries, ceramics, and glass. The west end of the building contained the Treasury where the legal tender was produced and the Pharmacy where the tables of numerous medicines and poisons were painted on the walls and still visible today.
Many existing building were demolished to make room for Palazzo Uffizi however Vasari incorporated the small church from the Roman Empire into the new building. During the restoration of 1971 murals hidden under centuries of plaster and paint reveal images of the Florentia Romana, a local tavern, and a church of the Longobardi. Additional works of Botticelli (1481), and Andrea del Castagno (1450).
Following the death of Vasari the Gran Duca ordered that the corridor connecting Palazzo Pitti be adorned with murals depicting his growing dominance of Tuscany. Humongous murals, floor to ceiling, by Buontalenti, run the entire length of the corridor and later Buontalenti convinced the Gran Duca to allow him to paint the 3rd floor apartment. Two famous works, la Tribuna (1584) e il Teatro Mediceo (1586), were painted in these apartments.
Most recently the Friends of Florence Foundation, a group of American donors, paid for the restoration of Uffizi Gallery's finest rooms and its most striking sculptures. The Niobe Room's original 18th-century layout and opulence have been recreated over two years to produce a majestic international beauty that gives us the impression of being in Vienna or St Petersburg.
Its centerpiece, the statues of tragic mythical mother Niobe and her doomed family the Niobids, was found in Rome in 1583. Advisory members of the Friends of Florence Foundation include Zubin Mehta, Sting, Mel Gibson and Franco Zeffirelli.
Florence has so much to offer, great food, wine, fantastic people, and probably the highest concentration of art works in the entire world, so why spend the time to see some governmental offices. If it is true that our past molds our future, this building, that is a symbol of a dominant world power of over 400 years, can give us insight into how we should look at our world today. Take some time, walk through and maybe sit in one of the artisan shops. It is a great place to get our current life into perspective.
Tags: Botticelli Palazzo Uffizi Niobe Italian Museums Florence Tuscany Art and Culture Renaissance Travel Italy