Uffizi is probably the most unique “arts container” in the world. An impressive building, thousands of artworks, a beautiful view over the Arno river, a not-so-secret passage… Definitely one of the top Florence must see!
Uffizi: from administration building to treasure(s) chest
Phase 1: Cosimo I de’ Medici at work (with Vasari!)
The Uffizi palace project dates to 1560. And the project has a definitely political background.
Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) wants to make a statement, here: the new palace will accommodates the Florentine Magistrates, their “uffizi”, the Renaissance Italian word for the modern Italian “uffici” (offices).
It is a political statement, as bringing all the Magistrates of Florence in one place – an owned-by-Medicis one – demonstrates the power of the family which is de facto, at that time, the “royal” family of Florence.
Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) is in charge of the project and the area becomes a sort of Renaissance world trade centre.
The building hosts, of course, the Magistrates; but also some of the Corporazione delle Arti e dei Mestieri, the Arts & Crafts guilds, patrons of the Orsanmichele Church; the Tribunale della Mercanzia, a sort of commercial law tribunal; the tax office and even a church.
But it’s not enough… Cosimo wants more!
Corridoio Vasariano: the most stylish overpass in the world!
With a bit of megalomania, Cosimo thinks really big when it comes to a wedding present for his son. The Uffizi are now the very political centre of the city, on the Florence north side, but the Medicis live in Palazzo Pitti and they want to go back and through in a private way.
Vasari had it ready in six months in 1565, in time for the wedding between Francesco de’ Medici (1541-1587) and Joanna of Austria (1547-1578) .
Phase 2: Francesco I de’ Medici, Buontalenti and a “museum in progress”
With both Cosimo I and Vasari passing away in 1574, Francesco I becomes the new Grand Duke and Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608) the new Uffizi complex architect.
It is under Francesco I that the second floor loggia becomes the art gallery of the family (the Medicis, at the time, were already collecting artworks since almost two hundred years). A museum was born: we will continue to tell you its long fascinating history and stories in another post!