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«An everlasting wonder» is "Gli Uffizi", the great Western art gallery in Florence.  The gallery entirely occupies the first and second floors of the large building constructed between 1560 and 1580 and designed by Giorgio Vasari. It is famous worldwide for its outstanding collections of ancient sculptures and paintings (from the Middle Ages to the Modern period). The collections of paintings from the 14th-century and Renaissance period include some absolute masterpieces: Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, ...

Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo, Raffaello, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, in addition to many precious works by European painters, mainly German, Dutch and Flemish. Moreover the Gallery boasts an invaluable collection of ancient statues and busts from the Medici family, which adorns the corridors and consists of ancient Roman copies of lost Greek sculptures.

Commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, the building, was conceived to house the “Uffizi”, the administrative and legal offices of Florence. The work was entrusted to artist Giorgio Vasari, who designed an edifice with a Doric column portico, in a style that was both elegant and severe, established “upon the river and almost in the air”. Started in 1560 as the Magistrates’ building that gave the complex its original name of Magistrature, the construction involved the demolition and rebuilding of the Rione di Baldracca, the quarter where a notorious tavern of the same name was located.  The old Romanesque church of San Pier Scheraggio, where formerly the municipal Council used to meet before Palazzo della Signoria was built, was spared. It was incorporated into Vasari’s project, and used as a place of worship until the 18th century.

Vasari brilliantly solved the problems of limited space, using solutions of bold, dramatic effect. A Serlian window overlooking the Arno, an architectural feature consisting of a large central arch with two adjacent openings, framed the porticoed square, the new economic and political forum, and the traditional civic space par excellence, Piazza della Signoria. Cosimo I requested the addition of an elevated passage, which is still used today, between the new building and Palazzo Vecchio. In March 1565, on the occasion of the marriage between Francesco I and Joanna of Austria, another elevated passageway was built between the Uffizi and Pitti Palace, known as the Vasari Corridor. This “aerial route” was reserved to the court for three centuries and opened to the public in 1865. Francesco I, Grand Duke from 1574 to 1587, was responsible for creating the first museum arrangement in the Gallery on the second floor of the building. 

At the time of the Kingdom of Italy, the Renaissance statues were transferred to the new national Museum of Bargello, the Gallery gradually became used to display paintings. In 1956 the first rooms of the Gallery were rearranged by architects Giovanni Michelucci, Carlo Scarpa and Ignazio Gardella. On 17 December 2011, the new western stairway, designed by Adolfo Natalini, was inaugurated to connect the historic second floor of the Gallery to the new rooms on the first floor.

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