Tuscany’s rich and priceless artistic and cultural heritage is no secret and it’s one of the many reasons hundreds of thousands of people choose to holiday in the region every year.
It’s made up of thousands of perfectly preserved villages and
historical towns, with fantastic architecture which makes it easy to
imagine the Tuscany of old. Visitors tell us time and time again how
they’ve loved spending time in Tuscany, as it’s felt like stepping back
Part of the reason it feels that way is because visitors are able to
see thousands of fantastic pieces of artwork. There are thousands upon
thousands of pieces of fine artwork in the region, with more than 500
museums spread across Tuscany.
Since Florence was the cradle of the art world during the renaissance in the 15th and 16thcentury this should come as no surprise, but it does mean no one can
hope to visit all of Tuscany’s museums in one trip – indeed, one
lifetime may not be enough.
So to help you plan which museums to visit during your Florence villa holidays,
we thought we’d compile a list of five of the best known in Florence.
Look out for more articles in future about some of the other fantastic
museums you can find elsewhere in Tuscany, and even elsewhere in
It displays paintings on wood and canvas, a number of antique statues and masterpieces of Italian art from all eras. With more than 45 rooms and literally thousands of pieces of art to see, visitors can’t hope to see everything in one, or even two, trips
and you may be best off focussing on just the first 15 rooms.
These rooms house Florentine Renaissance paintings and seeing them
will really help invoke a feeling that Tuscany was once the centre of
the art world.
Names to look out for here include Giotto, Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, Raffaello and Botticelli.
Galleria Palatina at Palazzo Pitti
The Palatine Gallery in Florence is based in the left wing of the majestic Palazzo Pitti. It was created around the turn of the 19th
century by members of the Lorena family – who acquired much of their
art collection from the Medici family which made its fortune through
banking and at one time ran the largest bank in 15th century Europe.
The outstanding collection includes works by the masters Titian,
Raphael, Pietro da Cortona, Rubens, Caravaggio and other Italian and
European Renaissance period and 17th century masters. The paintings sit within sumptuous frames and cover the walls of each of the palace’s rooms.
Also in the Palazzo Pitti are the Royal Apartments, which occupy the
14 magnificent rooms in the right wing of the Palace. These are set up
with 16th , 17th, 18th and 19th century furniture and works of art and are well worth a visit should you have time.
If you’d rather enjoy some Tuscan sunshine you can also visit the
wonderful Boboli Gardens which sit behind the Palace, as they are a
splendid example of Italian Renaissance gardens.
Bargello museum courtyard, photo credit: Lorenzofaoro
The Bargello Museum is also in Florence and is home to a remarkable collection of sculptures and so called “minor arts”.
Like many of Florence’s famous museums this one is housed in a grand and impressive building. It was originally built in the 13th century for the Capitano del Popolo, but later became the official residence of the Council of Justice.
Half way through the 19th century, in 1865, great works of
art started to be moved to the building and it soon became primarily a
museum. Some of the most important Renaissance sculptures, including
masterpieces by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo
and Cellini were moved into the Bargello and remain there to this day.
The Gallery of Accademia in Florence
Arguably the world’s most famous sculpture is housed in the Accademia Gallery
and it’s this that draws many visitors to Tuscany to visit the gallery.
The world famous David by Michelangelo has been drawing in visitors
ever since 1504 and continues to do so today.
At the Accademia you can also see other works by Michelangelo, including the impressive, albeit unfinished, Prigioni.
The gallery is also home to the Museum of Musical Instruments, and
it’s the only place you can see artefacts from the historical collection
of the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini.
Museo di San Marco in Florence
The Museum of San Marco is
one of Tuscany’s oldest museums and was founded in 1436. It was
designed by one of the most famous architects of the time, Michelozzo,
and the building itself is worthy of a visit, let alone the artwork
The site was formerly home to a Dominican convent and it’s also
famous for being home to Friar Girolamo Savonarola. He was
excommunicated by the Catholic Church during the Renaissance after
playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Republic of
Florence in the late 15th century and was subsequently tortured and executed.
Leaving aside the interesting history of the site the museum Museo di
San Marco houses unique paintings including several by Fra Beato
Angelico, the famous Renaissance painter who decorated many rooms of the
convent with beautiful frescoes.