The Uffizi, Room 2, Florence, Italy

There is no way to make one entry about Florence. The primo place to visit for art is the Uffizi which means offices in Italian. You enter on the first floor but that’s just the business end. If possible, and you are visiting in the tourist season, get tickets ahead of time. Otherwise, you are going to spend a lot of time in line. Okay, you’re in. Stop at the first floor and get an audio tour. You can share one between two people but, really, I would get one for myself. Now the trek to third floor. Don’t bother with the second floor. There is an elevator but you need to be infirm to use it. Huff, puff, you arrive at the third floor and surrender your ticket. Now, not all the rooms are open and you usually enter at room 2. This is the Giotto and the 13th century room. Okay, three big Madonnas. Don’t just walk through. There’s a lot to be learned here. First of all, look away from the large paintings and look at the smaller ones. Wow, you’re looking at stuff from the 12th century. And no, they didn’t know how to paint, it was a time when painting was formalized. The features are flat, the background gold, and the secondary figures are small. But as you look around the room, things start to change. How exciting is this, to stand in a room where you see the beginnings of the Renaissance. By the time you get to Giotto’s Madonna, the figure is much more natural and appears to be sitting on her throne. Yes, there are still little angel figures floating in a background of gold, but Mary is solidly sitting. There’s a little perspective going on here. Her body seems real under her cloak.

Some of the most exciting paintings in the Uffizi are the ones where you can see a transition from one age to another. Stop saying to yourself, yeah, altarpiece, altarpiece, let’s get to the Botticelli’s. This is where it all starts. Spend some time in Room 2.

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