Private villa for rent by owner in Chianti and museums in Tuscany

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Museums in Florence and Tuscany

Museums in Florence

The city of Florence, long considered the cradle of the Renaissance, can be thought of as a grand open-air museum. The numerous palaces, churches and piazzas stand testament to the glorious history of architecture and of past centuries. Florence's great edifaces were designed and decorated by the most distinguished artists of the time, from Brunelleschi to Giotto to Michelangelo, and today can still be appreciated while strolling through ancient stone streets. However every visitor to Florence should also take the time to explore a few of the city’s museums, where you will discover the remarkable sculptures, paintings and objects produced by the greatest artists the time.

Many of the museums in Florence are run by the Firenze Polo Museale, a public institution that manages the city’s state museums and historic villas for a total of over 300,000 works of art. To this we must add the city-run museums in addition to privately-owned museums and foundation - in all, an overwhelming and remarkable artistic patrimony that is waiting to be explored.

Uffizi Gallery

Piazzale degli Uffizi, Florence - Firenze - phone 055 238 8651 - Musei phone 055 294883. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m - closed on Monday, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art galleries in the world. Its collection of Medieval and Renaissance paintings features numerous world-famous masterpieces, including works by Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio. German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also present with important works by Dürer, Rubens and Rembrandt.

Uffizi - Department of prints and drawings

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8.15 am to 6 pm - closed on Saturday, public holidays and the month of August.

The print room is located in the former Medici Theater on the first floor of the Uffizi Gallery. One of the world’s major graphic collections, it was begun in the mid-17th century by Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici and added to continuously over the years. Its nearly 150,000 drawings and prints date from the late 14th century to the present day, with special attention given to the Tuscan Renaissance and 17th century periods. The Library and photographic collection are available to scholars by permission. 

Accademia Gallery

Via Ricasoli 58-60, Florence - phone 055 215449 - Firenze Musei phone 055 294883. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. - closed on Monday, January 1, May 1, and December 25.

The Gallery is renowned for its sculptures by Michelangelo: the unfinished Prisoners and St. Matthew and, above all, the colossal and iconic sculpture of David which was brought here from Piazza della Signoria in 1873. Other rooms in the gallery display important paintings brought from various city institutions. 

Accademia Gallery - Cherubin conservatory's collection

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:15 am to 3:50 pm - closed Monday, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Accademia Gallery also boasts an important collection of ancient musical instruments from the Cherubini Conservatory, the Department of Musical Instruments. The collection features about fifty instruments, dating from the late 17th to early 19th centuries, previously belonging to members of the Medici and Lorraine ducal families. Some of the more interesting instruments on view include a tenor viola by Antonio Stradivari, a cello made in 1690 for Grand Prince Ferdinando, a violin of 1716 by Stradivari and a cello from 1650 by Niccolò Amati. The museum also houses two rare instruments by the inventor of the piano Bartolomeo Cristofori, in addition to the oldest surviving vertical piano.

Bargello National Museum

Via del Proconsolo 4, Florence - phone 055 238 8606 - Firenze Musei phone 055 294883. Opening hours: daily 8:15 am to 5 pm - closed on the 1st, 3th and 5th Monday of each month.

The museum houses an impressive collection of sculpture and various works of art. It is set in an impressive stone palazzo built in the mid-13th century for the Capitano del Popolo, which later became the seat of the Podestà and Council of Justice and city jail. Since the 19th century the ancient building transformed into a museum, collecting together various Renaissance sculptures, including masterpieces by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Luca della Robbia and Cellini. You can also admire stunning collections of bronzes, waxes, majolica, ivories, enamels, medals, amber, tapestries, furniture and textiles from the Medici collections as well as private donors. 

Museum of Medici Chapels

Piazza di San Lorenzo 9, Florence 055 294883. Opening hours: daily 8.15e - phone 055 216634 - Firenze Musei phon am to 5 pm - closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday and 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The museum is part of the monumental complex of the basilica of San Lorenzo which, as parish church of the Medici family, was decorated with the finest sculpture, painting and architecture of the time. Medici family members have been buried here from the 15th century on. The New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo for the tombs of Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, displays one of the greatest masterpieces of architecture and sculpture of the Italian Renaissance. Next-door the Chapel of the Princes, begun in the 17th century as a mausoleum for the Medici grand dukes, is an elaborate domed chapel faced with polychrome marble and pietre dure (inlaid semiprecious stone).

 

Museum of San Marco

Piazza San Marco 3, Florence - phone 055 238 8608 - Firenze Musei phone 055 294883. Openings hours: Monday to Friday 8:15 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. - closed on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday and the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

This museum is set inside the Dominican convent of San Marco, thus conserving a special atmosphere. Designed by the architect Michelozzo in the mid-15th century, the convent and museum is especially famous for the paintings of Fra Angelico, the great Renaissance artist, who frescoed much of the convent. Also of note is a collection of 16th-century paintings including works by Fra Bartolomeo. 

Pitti Palace

Piazza de Pitti 1, Florence - Firenze Musei phone 055 294883.

The Pitti Palace, once the royal residence of the grand dukes of Tuscany and later of the King of Italy, today houses several important collections of paintings and sculpture, works of art, porcelain and a costume gallery. This impressive historical setting, lavishly decorated with frescoes and gilded stucco, continues outside to the Boboli Gardens, one of the earliest formal Italian gardens decked with fountains and grottoes.

 

Pitti Palace - The Palatine Gallery

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. - closed Monday, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The renowned Palatine Gallery takes up the left wing of the first floor of the Pitti Palace, once residence of the Medici grand dukes. It houses an impressive painting collection featuring works by Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and other Renaissance and Baroque masters. The gold-framed paintings cover nearly every inch of the walls as was the custom in traditional 17th-century picture galleries. The visit finishes with the Royal Apartments, fourteen opulent rooms that once housed the Medici and Lorraine grand ducal families and, after 1865, of the king of Italy.

Pitti Palace - The Gallery of Modern Art

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:15 am to 6:50 pm - closed Monday, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Gallery of Modern Art, located on the second floor of the Pitti Palace, features a nice collection of mainly Italian paintings and sculpture dating from the late 18th century to World War I. Of note is the wonderful collection of works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pitti Palace - The Costume Gallery

Opening hours: daily 8:15 a.m. to 14:30 p.m. (November-February), 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (March), 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (April, May, September and October), 8:15 am to 6:50 pm (June-August) - closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Costume Gallery is set in a wing of the Pitti Palace overlooking the Boboli Gardens. The collection constitutes 6,000 items including costumes from the 16th to the 20th centuries, theatrical costumes and accessories. Renowned as the only museum of the history of fashion in Italy, its works are displayed in rotation every few years. 

Pitti Palace - The Medici treasury (Silver MUseum)

Opening hours: daily 8:15 a.m. to 14:30 p.m. (November-February), 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (March), 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (April, May, September and October), 8:15 am to 6:50 pm (June-August) - closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

This museum is situated the ex-Summer Apartments on the ground floor and mezzanine floor of the Pitti Palace. The Grand Duke Ferdinando I commissioned the room decoration in 1635; today it houses the important Medici Treasure: varied objects such as the semiprecious stone vases of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the cameos of Cosimo I, the rock crystal objects of Francesco I, the ambers of Maria Maddalena d’Austria and the famous jewel collection belonging to Anna Maria Luisa, the last member of the Medici Family. Also on display is an important collection of jewels made between the 17th and the 20th century as well as a new section devoted to the Contemporary Jewellery. On the mezzanine floor of the museum you can visit a stunning collection of miniature portraits, executed between the mid-16th and 20th century.

Pitti Palace - The Porcelain Museum

Opening hours: daily 8:15 a.m. to 14:30 p.m. (November-February), 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (March), 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (April, May, September and October), 8:15 am to 6:50 pm (June-August) - closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

In the Porcelain Museum you can admire the most beautiful and precious porcelain of Europe, bought by Pietro Leopoldo and Ferdinand III and successively enriched with more porcelain from the historical palaces elsewhere in Italy. It is set in an 18th century building called the Palazzina del Cavaliere at the top of the Boboli Gardens.

Pitti Palace - The Carriage Museum

Opening hours: by appointment only.

This museum contains unique examples of coaches and equipment used in the Lorraine and Savoy courts in the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection features an 18th-century coupé, the gala coach of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, and three others made for Ferdinand III of Lorraine between 1818 and 1820. The collection can only be visited on request.

Pitti Palace - The Boboli Gardens

Opening hours: daily 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (November-February), 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (March), 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (April, May, September and October), 8:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (June-August) - closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The impressive and lush Boboli Gardens stretch behind the Pitti Palace. Originally designed for the Medici as a place of relaxation and natural beauty, they are considered one of the earliest examples of the Italian Garden which later inspired those of many European courts including Versailles. The tree-filled gardens are spread over a huge area, creating a sort of open-air museum with antique and Renaissance statues, grottoes and fountains.

The Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine

Piazza del Carmine, Florence - phone 055 276 8224. Opening hours: daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - closed on Tuesdays, January 1, January 7, Easter, May 1, July 16, August 15 and December 25.

The remarkable Cappella Brancacci is a small chapel within the larger Santa Maria del Carmine Church. In order to visit the chapel you must pass through the cloisters to the right of the church. Once inside the tiny chapel you can view the colorful frescoes commissioned in 1424 to Masaccio, considered to be the first Renaissance painter. Here the innovative master illustrates the life of St. Peter in an unprecedented manner, filling his panels with naturalistic figures, palpable sense of depth, linear perspective and cast shadows.

Santa Maria Novella Church

Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, Florence. Opening hours: open everyday, including religious and national holidays.

The church of Santa Maria Novella, perhaps less-visited than the Cathedral and Santa Croce, offers a pleasant surprise to visitors. Its architecture is stunning, a combination of Gothic forms and pointed arches topped with a marble-clad facade partially designed by Renaissance master Leon Battista Alberti. The interior houses extraordinary works of art including Masaccio's early Renaissance masterpiece The Trinity, Ghirlandaio's splendid fresco cycle in the Tornabuoni Chapel and Giotto's Crucifix, among others.

The Palazzo Vecchio

Piazza della Signoria, Florence - phone 055 276 8325. Opening hours: April-September, every day 9 a.m. - midnight except Thursday.

The imposing stone Palazzo Vecchio remains the main symbol of civic power for the city of Florence. Construction on the solid fortress began in 1299 during a period of tremendous prosperity and wealth in the city, which at the time ruled as a merchant republic. The entire construction sits atop an ancient theater of the Roman colony of Florentia (dating back to the first century B.C.), whose ruins can be viewed in an underground level. Today part of the palace functions as the current city hall, while part is open as a museum fitted with Renaissance rooms, frescoes and sculptures. 

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum

Via de Servi 66R, 50122 Florence - phone 055 282966. Opening times: November-March, everyday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - April-October, everyday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - closed December 24 and 25.

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most famous Italian historical figures of all time. Though he lived 500 years ago, from 1452 to 1519, he remains today the shining symbol of the Renaissance. Though part artist - dedicated to fine arts like painting, sculpture, architecture and music - Leonardo was also an avid scientist, inventor and designer: in short, the quintessential Renaissance man. During his life, Leonardo completed a large number of scientific manuscripts where he conserved notes of his studies and made sketches on a vast range of interests. These pages are now collected into notebooks or codexes, including one on the Flight of Birds (conserved in Turin) and the Codex Atlanticus (twelve volumes of notebooks kept at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan). Using these codexes, some of Leonardo’s designs from various fields (military, citing engineering, study of flight and water…)have been reconstructed. Today you can view some of Leonardo's studies in the form of modern interactive reconstructions of these "machines" at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. 

Museum Galileo - Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza

Piazza dei Giudici 1, Florence - phone 055 265 311. Opening hours: daily 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m except Tuesday 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Museo Galileo is a major scientific museum, conserving and displaying the collection of scientific instruments of the Medici and Lorraine families assembled since the Renaissance. The key figure is naturally Galileo, celebrating his extraordinary inventions and developments.

Museum Salvatore Ferragamo

Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza Santa Trinita 5/r - phone 055 3562846 / 055 3562813. Opening hours: daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., except January 1, May 1, August 15 and December 25.

Situated off the Arno River in Florence, in the basement of the ancient and imposing Palazzo Spini Feroni, Via Tornabuoni n. 2, the museum was opened by the Ferragamo family in order to celebrate Salvatore Ferragamo's exemplary artistic qualities and the crucial role he played in the history of shoe design and international fashion. Together with photographs, sketches, patents, books, magazines and wooden lasts of various famous feet, the museum features a collection of 10,000 models designed by Ferragamo from the end of the 1920's until 1960, the year of his death. The shoes are displayed on rotation, and all represent the refined craftsmanship and brilliant mind of an artist who was always in touch with creative side of fashion.

National Museum of Photography F.lli Alinari

Piazza Santa Maria Novella 14a rosso, Florence - phone 055 216310. Opening hours: Everyday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. - closed Wednesday.

Italy’s national photography museum is named after the Fratelli Alinari, the world-famous Florentine workshop. The official name however is MNAF, Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia, opened in 2006. Inside you will find two exhibition areas: the first for temporary shows; the other for the permanent collection, imagined as a journey between history and the present, with technical material taken from the rich Alinari collections.

Palazzo Davanzati

Via Porta Rossa 13, Florence - phone 055 238 8610. Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8:15 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. - closed on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and the first, third and fifth Mondays of the month, January 1, May 1 and December 25.

The Museum of Palazzo Davanzati – also known as the Museo dell’Antica Casa Fiorentina (Museum of the Medieval Florentine House) – has been a State museum since 1956. The spectacular facade of the palazzo, the ancient 14th-century residence of the wealthy merchant Davizzi family, overlooks an evocative piazza once marked with ancient towers. The Museum houses a diverse range of collections: sculptures, paintings, furnishings, majolica, lace and more objects of daily life. On each floor of the palace the rooms follow the same layout: the Sala Madornale, taking the entire length of the facade, the drawing room, the study and the bedroom with open-beamed ceilings and fake upholstery fresco decorations. The domestic quarters and toilets on all floors - along with the kitchen on the third floor – attest to the luxurious comforts of the noble family that lived in Palazzo Davanzati, a splendid and unique example of a mediaeval Florentine house.

Museum of Casa Martelli

Via Ferdinando Zannetti 8, Florence - phone 055 216 725 - Firenze Musei phone 055 294883. Opening hours: Thursday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This museum is a fascinating example of an 18th-century noble family’s home and tastes in collecting. Niccolò and Giuseppe Maria Martelli commissioned in 1738 the present palace by transforming several homes in the area. The interior was in turn decorated in the taste of the period with paintings by Vincenzo Meucci, Bernardo Minozzi and Niccolò Conestabile. The family’s collection of art was arranged in a specially-designed suite of rooms, and remains the final example of an 18th-century Florentine collection (excepting the Corsini collection) preserved intact. The paintings include works by Piero di Cosimo, Beccafumi, Salvator Rosa, Luca Giordano and Netherlandish painting of the 17th century.

Baptistery of San Giovanni

Piazza del Duomo, Florence - phone 055 230 2885. Opening hours: 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sundays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and first Saturday of month 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The great Baptistery is still today one of Florence’s most important religious buildings, dedicated to the city’s patron saint John the Baptist. Built on the foundations of an ancient Roman building, it is a perfect example of the Tuscan Romanesque style, dating from around the 11th century (consecrated in 1059). Intended specifically for the liturgical rite of baptism, in the 11th century it also served as the city’s Cathedral. Inside are various tombs of important people, including the tomb of the Anti-Pope John XXIII who died in Florence in 1419. This remains one of the earliest Renaissance wall tombs, created between 1421 and 1427 by Donatello and Michelozzo. Also noteworthy inside the Baptistery are splendid medieval mosaics in the dome and the inlaid ancient marble floor pavements.

Church and Museum of Orsanmichele

Via dell'Arte della Lana, Florence - phone 055 23885. Opening hours: church open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - museum open Mondays only from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This unique monument, incorporating both civil and religious functions, was built by the city guilds. Originally constructed as a grain market, in the 14th century the granary was turned into a church. In the Museum on the first floor (open Mondays only) you will find the original sculptures from the exterior. These works were commissioned from the most famous Florentine artists in the 15th and 16th centuries for the niches on the four sides of the ancient stone building, located half-way between the Palazzo della Signoria and the Cathedral. On the second floor of the Museum is a magnificent little-known 360 degree panorama of Florence. Inside the church is the resplendent 14th century marble tabernacle of the Madonna delle Grazie, decorated in marble and inlaid mosaic.

Pazzi Chapel

Piazza Santa Croce 16, Florence - phone 055 246 6105.

In the quiet cloister next to the Basilica of Santa Croce we find one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture by Filippo Brunelleschi: the Pazzi Chapel. The plan of the chapel is based on the circle and the square: a rectangular base is covered with a central dome. Spaces are rationally designed with geometric purity; the white plaster of the walls contrasts with the  grey pilasters made from pieta serena in order to better articulate Brunelleschi’s modern mathematical design. The Pazzi Chapel can be visited together with the basilica of Santa Croce on the same admission ticket (access is through the church).

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Museums in Tuscany

Vinci - Leonardo da Vinci Museum

Via G. La Pira 1, Vinci - phone 0571 933251.

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum, situated in the artist’s hometown of Vinci, houses a fascinating collection of reconstructed machines and mechanisms imagined by Leonardo in his notebook drawings but never brought to life. You will find examples of his studies with water, flying machines, mathematical perspective, military warfare and many more creations from this Renaissance genius. Today the museum is set in two separate buildings, the historic medieval Conti Guidi Castle and Palazzina Uzielli, to comprise one major museum route in the historic center of Vinci. The new access route to the museum, in Piazza dei Guidi, was redeveloped in 2006 by the artist Mimmo Paladino, who produced an original contemporary decoration in keeping with the artistic and scientific persona of Leonardo. Vinci is a small, charming hill town located about 30 minutes’ drive west of Florence on the way to Pisa.

San Gimignano - Museo della Tortura (Torture Museum)

Via San Giovanni 125, San Gimignano - phone 0577 940526.

This popular exhibit demonstrates the morbid and truly horrific history of torture through the reproduction of unique but deadly instruments. Each exhibit is accompanied by a detailed description of how it worked and what happened to the human body during the torture, creating a dramatic effect on visitors (strong stomach required). The exhibit claims to be an important testimony, not lingering in the past but laying bare the worst side of human nature for contemplation.

Volterra - Guarnacci Etruscan Museum

Via Don Minzoni 15, Volterra - phone 0588 86347. Opening hours: daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. except January 1 and December 25.

The Guarnacci museum, one of the earliest public museums in Europe, is set in a lovely palace where Etruscan and Roman collections from Volterra are artfully displayed. Highlights like the haunting elongated form of the Ombra della Sera (Shadow of the Evening) or the remarkably expressive elderly couple figured on the Urna degli sposi (Urn of the Married Couple) make your visit memorable for years to come. In the oldest part of the museum the collection is exhibited in charming period furniture with objects often grouped together by material or shape, whereas in the contemporary section of the museum a more modern approach is used in displaying a selection of the most important works along with explanatory panels.

Volterra - Museum of Sacred Art

Via Roma 13, Volterra - phone 0588 86290 Open daily except January 1 and December 25.

The Museum of Sacred Art is set in the Bishop’s Palace, displaying works of art from the Cathedral and other churches. The Museum has a notable collection of paintings, sculptures and sacred vestments. Remarkably important are rare marble sculptures surviving from 14th century monuments erected in the cathedral. Among the other interesting objects is a Roman sarcophagus from the 1st century B.C., marking one of the earliest examples of reutilization since it was used as a coffin by Bishop Goffredo in 1037. The painted wooden Crucifixion by an artist who was a follower of Giunta Pisano is outstanding, while from Villamagna there is a much later altarpiece by Rosso Fiorentino from 1521, the same year in which he painted the famous Deposition now in the City Art Gallery. An alabaster ciborium (1575) and the holy water font (1567) are beautiful objects which exemplify the revival of alabaster work in Volterra.

Volterra - Art Gallery & Civic Museum

Via dei Sarti 1, Volterra - phone 0588 87580 Open daily except January 1 and December 25.

The Art Gallery or Pinacoteca is situated in the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini, a wonderful example of late 15th century architecture generally attributed to Antonio San Gallo the Elder. Today the Art Gallery, representing the most important section of the collection, is joined by the Municipal Museum. The remarkable Deposition, a Mannerist painting by Rosso Fiorentino from 1521, is easily the most significant work from the collection and for many, reason enough to visit Volterra. Other important works in the collection are paintings by Taddeo di Bartolo and Cenni di Francesco, the Pietà by Francesco Neri of Volterra, a predella of the story of the Virgin by Benvenuto di Giovanni, an altarpiece of Christ in Glory by Domenico Ghirlandaio and the Holy Conversation and the Annunciation by Luca Signorelli from Cortona. There is also an interesting collection of medieval sculpture and ceramics, of medals (including the Medici collection) and of coins.

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