Tag Archives: Museum

Tuscan Traveler’s Picks – Women Artists Now More Visible at the Uffizi

INVISIBLE WOMEN, a documentary based on the book Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, written by American Jane Fortune (The Florentine Press, 2009) won an Emmy award on June 1, 2013, as the Best Documentary in the Cultural/Historical Program category by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The documentary, produced by WFYI Productions of Indianapolis, was recently aired on American public television (PBS).

Tuscan Traveler's Favorite Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi (Uffizi)
Tuscan Traveler’s Favorite Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi (Uffizi)

“Winning the Emmy is a new boost to my project, which aims to restore and exhibit artworks by women in Florence,’ said Jane Fortune, art collector, philanthropist, as well as Founder and Chair of Advancing Women Artists Foundation. ‘To achieve these goals it takes technology and skill. It takes the commitment of the city’s museum directors, its restorers and its citizens in general, who are eager to finally learn more about these lesser-known works.” (See the website of Advancing Women Artists for an interesting recounting of the restoration of Artemisa Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba.)

Restored Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi (David and Bathsheba)
Restored Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi (David and Bathsheba)

“Efforts to safeguard works of art are obviously directed to our cultural heritage in general. What I think we are doing on many fronts is dedicating supplementary attention to works of art by women, through initiatives like restoration and presentation to the public, placing an emphasis on the personalities of these women artists,” said Cristina Acidini, Superintendent of Florence’s Historic and Artistic Ethno-Anthropologic Patrimony and the Polo Museale.

Restoration funded by the Florence Committee of NMWA
Restoration funded by the Florence Committee of NMWA

Suor Plautilla Nelli, Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabetta Siriani, Irene Duclos Parenti, Elizabeth Chaplin, Lavinia Fontana—the search for women artists in Florence spans hundreds of years and leads the art lover through the halls of the city’s museums, where a sprinkling of representative works gives incentive to further investigation. The whirlwind tourist knows nothing of them, while the art-loving resident lucky enough to happen upon an occasional exhibit aimed at unearthing the city’s hidden cultural patrimony may only vaguely remember their names.

The documentary Invisible Women will have its Italian premiere at Florence’s Odeon Cinema on Tuesday, June 25 at 7pm. Tickets cost 6 euro, with proceeds going to the Advancing Women Artists Foundation which restores and safeguards works of art by women. The Odeon Cinema is a partner in the event, evidence of its ongoing commitment to culture in the city of Florence and of its international nature.

For information on the evening visit the websites of The Florentine (www.theflorentine.net) and the Odeon Cinema (www.odeonfirenze.com). See the Facebook page.

For more information contact: Linda Falcone, Advancing Women Artists Foundation (linda.falcone7072@gmail.com)

Finding Art by Women in the Strangest Places

One of the most interesting, but least visited museums, in Florence is the Garibaldi Museum, maintained by the Associazione Nazionale Veterani e Reduci Garibaldini, in the 10th century tower, Torre della Castangna which stands in Piazza San Martino, on the corner of via Dante Alighieri. It has in its collection a portrait by one of Florence’s most talented artists, working at the dawn of the 20th century, Elisabeth Chaplin.

The Torre della Castagna is interesting in its own right, being one of the least altered medieval towers in Florence. In 1038, the tower was given by Emperor Corrado II to the Benedictine monks of the adjacent Badia Fiorentina in order to help with the monastery’s defenses. In 1282 the tower became the meeting place of the Priori delle Arti, the governing body of the Florentine Republic. The name of the tower came from the fact that the members of the Priori used chestnuts (castagne) to cast their votes.

Torre della Castagna home of the Garibaldi Museum
Torre della Castagna home of the Garibaldi Museum

Today, the tower houses a collection of artifacts having to do with Giuseppe Garibaldi, a central figure in the Italian Risorgimento, since he personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the formation of a unified Italy.

Among the collection is a portrait of Anita Vignoli (née Castellucci) painted by Elisabeth Chaplin. Anita Castellucci, named by her father after Garibaldi’s beloved Brazilian wife Ana Ribeiro da Silva (commonly known as “Anita”), who fought with Garibaldi. Her Vignoli husband worked to carry on Garibaldi’s legacy into the 20th century. Anita Vignoli is wearing her father’s medals.

Portrait of Anita Castellucci Vignoli
Portrait of Anita Castellucci Vignoli

Elisabeth Caplin, born in France, came from a family of painters and sculptors. In 1900 her family moved to Italy, first to Piemonte and afterwards to Savona in Liguria. It was there that Elisabeth started to teach herself to paint, with no formal training and only the advice of Albert Besnard. When the Chaplin family took up residence at the Villa Rossi in Fiesole in 1905, Elisabeth had the chance to visit Francesco Gioli’s studio and meet Giovanni Fattori. (Her painting of Anita Castellucci Vignoli was painted sometime between 1906 and 1922.)

An almost Invisible Woman - Elisabeth Caplin in Torre della Castagna
An almost Invisible Woman – Elisabeth Chaplin in Torre della Castagna

Chaplin’s visits to the Uffizi Museum were decisive. She learned from copying the classics. From 1905-8, she painted her first large canvases and in 1910 her Ritratto di Famiglia (Family Portrait) for the Florence Society of Fine Arts won her a gold medal. In 1916 she moved with her family to Rome, where she would live until 1922.

Elisabeth Chaplin's self-portrait (Vasari Corridor)
Elisabeth Chaplin’s self-portrait (Vasari Corridor)

She participated in the Venice Biennale in 1914 and in the Paris Salon in 1922 and thereafter. In the 1930’s Chaplin produced numerous frescoes and murals. In 1937 she won a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Paris and in 1939 she was given the French Legion of Honor. She returned to Italy after World War II.

Chaplin donated her entire body of works to Florence. Fifteen of her paintings are on show at Palazzo Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery, while almost 700 (paintings and sketches) are in storage. Why are so many masterpieces by extraordinary women artists hidden from the public eye and from the enjoyment of visitors? See a small part of the story at the Odeon Cinema on June 25.

Open on Thursday afternoon
Open on Thursday afternoon

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – The Monument to a Tragedy

Twenty years ago, in the night between 26 and 27 May 1993, a bomb exploded in Via dei Georgofili, which killed five people, wounded nearly fifty and damaged a part of the heritage of the Uffizi Gallery. (See the posting below.)

The crater left inside the Accademia die Georgofili
The crater left inside the Accademia dei Georgofili

Three paintings were lost, while in total about 200 were damaged (150 paintings and 50 sculptures), between those exposed in the museum, those in the hallway of the Vasari Corridor, and those in storage.

Paintings from the Renaissance destroyed in 1993
Paintings from the Renaissance destroyed in 1993

In 2004, a hundred-year-old olive tree was placed in front of the Accademia dei Georgofili as a living memorial to the victims of the massacre.The tree bears a plaque in Italian and 10 other languages, wishing that “all passersby will remember the barbaric act that took place on May 27, 1993 and all those that suffered will be in our minds and hearts.”

Olive tree placed in 2004 in honor of the victims
Olive tree placed in 2004 in honor of the victims

The tree has not weathered the years in the alley behind the Uffizi well. It is now bandaged and bare.

In 2008, the City of Florence placed a bronze piece depicting the blast was placed on the wall across from the Accademia.

Monument placed in 2008 by the City of Florence
Monument placed in 2008 by the City of Florence

In 2011, President Napolitano came to commemorate a plaque on the wall of the Accademia dei Georgofili with the names of the victims inscribed.

Placed in 2011 on the Accademia dei Georgofili where the victims lived
Placed in 2011 on the Accademia dei Georgofili where the victims lived

This year on May 26, the Uffizi Gallery, together with the Friends of Florence, unveiled a specially commissioned statue, which is placed some 20 meters above ground on the wall of the Uffizi Gallery facing Via dei Georgofili. Made by Tuscan artist Roberto Barni, the 2-meter tall statue in bronze is entitled “I Passi d’Oro” (The Golden Strides). It was presented to the public in the Salone de’ Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio by president of the Italian Senate, Pietro Grasso, with members of the Association of Relatives of the Victims of via dei Georgofili in attendance.

I Passi d'Oro by Roberto Barni
I Passi d'Oro by Roberto Barni

This is the first time the non-profit Friends of Florence Foundation, chaired by Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, supported the creation of a sculpture dedicated to the commemoration of a tragic episode in Italian history, rather than its usual work of restoration of Renaissance sculpture and paintings in Florence. (The Friends of Florence were instrumental in the restoration of most of the sculptures on the Loggia dei Lanzi.)

Statue by Roberto Barni stands on a stone plinth
Statue by Roberto Barni stands on a stone plinth

The six-foot statue of bronze, covered in gold leaf, depicts a striding golden figure of a man with five small attached figures (representing each of the victims) on a blade of stone. See the video of the unveiling in situ.

The memorial statue walks 60 feet up above the street
The memorial statue walks 60 feet up above the street

Perhaps only the powers that be of the Uffizi Gallery can explain why the impressive six-foot sculpture by Barni is placed so high on the museum’s exterior wall that it can barely be seen. Is this the age-old problem that Florence has displaying modern art where people can actually see it or is it the difficulty of attaching a heavy bronze to the medieval Torre dei Pulci, where there was the most loss of life, or is there some other reason? I, for one, would support the repositioning of I Passi d’Oro.

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Twenty Years Ago A Terrorist Bomb Shook Florence

The Uffizi Is Targeted By A Terrorist Bomb

Twenty years ago, a little more than one hour after midnight, May 27, 1993, a massive explosion echoed throughout Florence. It was a true case of domestic terrorism.

Today an olive tree marks the place where the bomb detonated in 1993
Today an olive tree stands where the bomb detonated in 1993

A stolen white Fiat Fiorino van, loaded with explosives, was driven into the city center and parked under the Torre dei Pulci in Via dei Georgofili. The car bomb (280 kilograms of Pentrite and T4 (both components of Semtex) mixed with a small quantity of TNT) was detonated blasting a crater ten feet wide and six feet deep. Fragments of metal debris landed as far away as Via dei Calzaiuoli.

The terrorists were the members Cosa Nostra in Sicily. This was an act of intimidation.

The explosion killed five people: municipal police inspector Fabrizio Nencioni; his wife Angela, the live-in custodian at the Accademia dei Georgofili; their daughters, nine-year-old Nadia and seven-week-old Caterina; and a 22-year-old architecture student Dario Capolicchio, who lived in a nearby apartment. Another 33 people were hospitalized for injuries.

Apartment of the Nencioni family
Apartment of the Nencioni family

To the mafia the dead were just ancillary damage. The Uffizi Gallery was the main target of the blast. The structural damage to the museum cost more than a million dollars to repair. Although the reinforced window glass of the museum shattered, it protected most of the artworks from the full force of the blast. Three paintings were completely destroyed, thirty-three others were damaged and three statues were broken.

The damage was far greater to the fifteenth-century Torre dei Pulci, home since 1933 to the Accademia dei Georgofili, established in 1735, the world’s first learned society of agronomy and scientific agriculture. The building imploded and crumbled to the ground, completely destroying the apartment of the Nencioni family. Over one thousand of the Accademia’s 40,000 rare books, manuscripts and historic archives were irretrievably lost.

Damage in the Uffizi Gallery from the bomb blast
Damage in the Uffizi Gallery from the bomb blast

The Florentines pulled together as they had after the extensive damage in World War II and the Arno Flood in 1966. A month later a memorial for the dead filled the Piazza della Signoria where the orchestra and chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino played in concert. It took three years to reopen the Accademia dei Georgofili. Work on parts of the Uffizi Gallery and the Vasari Corridor took much longer.

This year, on May 26, the twentieth anniversary brings a number of events and presentations about the events in the early morning of May 27, 1993, including the presentation of a permanent memorial to the victims, a statue by sculptor Roberto Barni, commissioned by the Friends of Florence, the Associazione tra i Familiari delle Vittime della Strage di Via dei Georgofili, and the Uffizi Gallery organizations. The sculpture is called I Passi d’Oro (The Golden Steps).

Sketch of Roberto Barni's memorial statue
Sketch of Roberto Barni's memorial statue

Domestic Terror Planned and Carried Out By the Mafia

The attack on the Uffizi and Accademia dei Georgofili bore similarities to a bomb targeting anti-mafia campaigner and television host (The Maurizio Costanzo Show) Maurizio Costanzo, which had exploded in the fashionable Roman neighborhood of Parioli 13 days earlier, injuring 23 people.

Terrorist Bomb 5/27/93The Cosa Nostra’s involvement in the bombing was confirmed a month later, in July 1993, when three bombs were detonated, almost simultaneously: one in Milan (at the Pavilion of Contemporary Art, where five people died) and two in Rome (at the cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano and at the church of San Giorgio in Velabro).

Evidence was soon found suggesting that the bombs were placed by Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian organized crime syndicate. These terrorist attacks were meant not only to deter, by way of warning, its members from turning state’s witness, but also to force the over-ruling of Art. 41 (bis) of the Penitentiary Law of August 1992, which imposed harsh living conditions on prisoners, especially those accused of being members of mafia organizations, severely curtailing their contact with those outside prison.

Words by anti-mafia prosecutor Govanni Falcone on Georgofili olive tree
Words by anti-mafia prosecutor Govanni Falcone on Georgofili olive tree

After the arrest of mafia boss Totò Riina from Corleone in January 1993, the remaining bosses, among them Giuseppe Graviano, Matteo Messina Denaro, Giovanni Brusca, Leoluca Bagarella, Antonino Gioè and Gioacchino La Barbera came together a few times (often in the Santa Flavia area in Bagheria, on an estate owned by the mafioso Leonardo Greco). They decided on a strategy to force the Italian state to retreat in its pressure on the Cosa Nostra. The Graviano brothers were seen as the organizers of the operation, in particular to select the men who would carry out the bombings.

Terrorist Bomb 5/27/93It was nearly ten years before some of the perpetrators were brought to justice. In 2002, for ordering the bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan, bosses Giuseppe and Filippo Graviano each received a life sentence for the bombings. For their part, Leoluca Bagarella, Totò Riina, Bernardo Provenzano and Matteo Messina Denaro (still a fugitive), along with another ten members of the clan were also sentenced to life imprisonment.

Finally, this month, two decades after the horrific acts, Sicilian fisherman Cosimo D’Amato, 68, was sentenced to life imprisonment for supplying explosives for Mafia massacres in Rome, Florence and Milan. He was convicted on testimony from a former mafia member Gaspare Spatuzza. Police say that D’Amato recovered large amounts of TNT, later used in several mafia bombings, from World War II remains he found in the sea. D’Amato is related to other members of the mafia involved in the Falcone and Borsellino slayings.

Terrorist Bomb 5/27/93D’Amato is also being probed for a role in supplying the dynamite used in a massive explosion that killed anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca, and three bodyguards in May 1992. That explosion occurred on the motorway near the town of Capaci near Sicily’s regional capital. Falcone is considered a national hero. The 21st anniversary of Falcone’s murder was marked with ceremonies in Palermo Thursday.

Museo del Cibo – Visit the Carpigiani Gelato Museum

This week the Florence Gelato Festival was the subject of a misunderstanding or evidence that Mayor Renzi does not have his eye on what’s happening in Florence. The Festival was scheduled to run from May 17 to 26, then at the last minute the Mayor’s Office declared that this was too long and was taking up too much valuable space, taking all of the participating gelaterias by surprise. The organizers of the Festival took the city to court and prevailed, so the festival will run until next Sunday. Check the official website for more information.


One of the major participants in the Festival is Carpigiani, the largest manufacturer of equipment for gelaterias, restaurants and other businesses, as well as for in-home use. Tuscan Traveler enjoyed a few days at Carpigiani’s Gelato University a couple of years ago and is happy to announce that the Carpigiani Gelato Museum has joined the pantheon of food museums in Italy. (Also see here and here.)

Carpigiani Gelato Museum near Bologna
Carpigiani Gelato Museum near Bologna

The Gelato Museum is innovative, dedicated to the study, documentation, and dissemination of the history, values, and culture of artisan gelato, a beloved treat (or rather, necessity) that represents Italian excellence and creativity throughout the world. (Carpigiani has the company goal of taking gelato to every corner of the earth.)

“The objective of the Carpigiani Gelato Museum is to highlight the roots and history of this quality food and the gelato artisans that produce it, bringing excellence, creativity, and flavor to customers worldwide,” said Romano Verardi, President of the Bruto and Poerio Carpigiani Foundation. “We are pleased that this initiative came together just a short time after the official establishment of the European Gelato Day.” (The EU has named March 24 as the annual European Day of Artisan Gelato, first celebrated in 2013.)

1958 One of the first soft serve Carpigiani gelato vans
1958 One of the first soft serve Carpigiani gelato vans

The thousand square meter museum space was created in the current Carpigiani headquarters near Bologna. The complex is built around a central garden that connects the various areas of the building, including showrooms and the Carpigiani Gelato Museum, itself.

The museum features an interactive tour that highlights three principal themes regarding gelato: the evolution of gelato over time, the history of production technology, and the places and ways to consume gelato. More than twenty original machines are on display, along with multimedia presentations, 10,000 historical images and documents, accessories and tools of the trade from ages past, and workshops.

Antique tin boxes for storing gelato cones
Antique tin boxes for storing gelato cones

“The Gelato Museum fulfills the dream of our founders, Bruto and Poerio Carpigiani, the two Bolognese brothers who made it their job to spread gelato technology, culture, and business throughout the world,” says Andrea Cocchi, General Manager of the Carpigiani Group. “The challenge is now to reaffirm the historical memory of our roots so as to strengthen our future, leading us to progress, innovate, and expand our culture.”

The museum has gathered a number of audio-visual testimonies from people who have played a key role in the history of gelato.  Gelato’s place in history is recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s nutritional heritage.

The Carpigiani Gelato Museum is located along the highway to Milan at Via Emilia 45, in Anzola dell’Emilia, Bologna.

Open Monday to Saturday, tickets free with guided tour, reservation required.

Information and reservations: www.gelatomuseum.org – +39 051 6505306 – info@fondazionecarpigiani.it

Learning labs at the Gelato Museum for children
Learning labs at the Gelato Museum for children

If you are in the Bologna area for more than a few hours take part in tasty gelato lessons after visiting the museum. Choose the experience that entices you most and enter the world of artisan gelato. The activities are conducted by the instructors of Carpigiani Gelato University, the most prestigious gelato school in the world. Check out the website here for the family events and the small group classes at the Gelato Museum ranging from a one hour tour with gelato tasting (5 euro per person), to a two hour tour with hands-on gelato making lesson, gelato tasting, certificate and group photo (10 euro per person, ten person minimum), to the fabulous four-hour tour, gelato theory lesson, hands-on gelato class to create your own flavor, gelato tasting, certificate and group photo (35 euro per person (min. two participants, max. six participants).

There are also shorter duration classes designed especially for children. See here for details.

Mille Miglia pit stop for gelato
Mille Miglia pit stop for gelato

Just a couple of weeks ago, Carpigiani played host for a few hours to one of Tuscan Traveler’s favorite all-Italy events: The Mille Miglia Antique Car Endurance Road Race. See the video here.



Italian Food Rules: The BookItalian Life Rules (the book) is coming in Summer 2014. Italian Food Rules by Ann Reavis is available now. You can buy Italian Food Rules by using these links:

Amazon. com (U.S.) eBook for Kindle & Kindle Apps

Amazon. com (U.S.) paperback

Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Amazon.it (Italy)

Amazon.de (Germany)

Amazon.fr (France)

Barnes & Noble (U.S.) eBook for Nook

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – A Galileo Day

Last month I took the MuseoBus through Galileo Land.  First stop – the Galileo Museum.

Last year, Florence’s History of Science Museum finally reopened with a new name – Museo Galileo. The exhibits that were once a bit musty and dusty are now beautifully presented – well lit, dramatic, modern and packed full with beautifully made instruments for observing and demonstrating the world around us. It’s all polished brass, finely turned wood and carefully blown glass. Take a virtual tour here.

Galileo Bust at Museo Galileo in Florence

We were there to appreciate the science of Galileo and so concentrated on his telescopes with which he found the moons of Jupiter and the globes and maps of the ever-changing views of the world. (Later, we came back to see the historical medical science instruments, 18th century chemistry equipment, and more, located on the Galileo Museum’s top floor.)

Ptolemaic armillary took 5 years to build
Ptolemaic armillary took 5 years to build

One of the most impressive exhibits, a huge armillary sphere (1593), ordered for Grand Duke Ferdinando I, is a great example of art and science working together. It stands over 11 feet tall, made of gold and cypress wood, showing the Ptolemaic orbits of all of the planets and the sun around the earth – everything Galileo argued against – and it still rotates, having been restored for the opening of the new museum. See the video here. http://catalogue.museogalileo.it/room/RoomsIIIV.html

Right middle finger of Galileo
Right middle finger of Galileo

And then there is the finger – the middle finger of Galileo’s right hand, sits in a glass case held perpetually upright. It’s not pointing anywhere in particular, but it’s hard not to smile at the potential for symbolism given history has proved Galileo right in spite of his being forced to recant. It was alone until 2009 when it was joined by another finger, a thumb and a molar. (The stories of their very existence, as well as their subsequent rediscovery, are too long to recount here so go read the amusing version from the New York Times.)

Our next stop on the MuseoBus was Villa il Gioiello (“The Jewel”) Galileo’s last home in Arcetri, a little town just a mile south of Florence, up in the hills. (A popular restaurant with tourists, Omero, a 15 euro cab ride from central Florence, is right across the street from Villa il Gioiello, but most diners don’t realize that they are walking in the footsteps of Galileo.)

All aboard the MuseoBus
All aboard the MuseoBus

Sentenced to house arrest by the Inquisition in Rome for defending the revolutionary sun-centered Copernican universe against the traditional earth-centered Ptolemaic world-view, Galileo returned to his Arcetri house in 1633, and stayed there until he died in 1642. 
It is also known now as Villa Galileo (not to be confused with the other homes of Galileo found in Florence, which are in Costa San Giorgio, as well as a villa in Bellosguardo).

Villa il Gioielli is now known as Villa Galileo
Villa il Gioiello is now known as Villa Galileo

The name Gioiello was given due to its favorable position in the hills of Arcetri, near the Torre del Gallo. It was an elegant home, surrounded by many acres of farmland with a separate house for workers. It is recorded in the cadastre of 1427 to have been owned by Tommaso di Cristofano Masi and his brothers, who later passed it on to the Calderini family in 1525, where it is first mentioned as “The Jewel”. The villa and its estate suffered damages during the siege of Florence in the years 1529 and 1530, whilst the entire area of Arcetri and Pian dei Giullari were occupied by Spanish Imperial troops. Calderini sold it shortly thereafter to the Cavalcanti family, who rebuilt the home with its original simple lines, preserving its elegant look to the present day.

Last home of Galileo in Arcetri
Last home of Galileo in Arcetri

This residence, rented by Galileo, was near the monastery where his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste (born Virginia) was a nun. There are 124 remaining letters from Celeste to Galileo (the replies of the scientist were probably destroyed), which were found after his death and are now at the State Archive of Florence. A popular book, Galileo’s Daughter, recounts that correspondence. Sister Maria Celeste died in 1634.

Despite becoming blind in 1638, Galileo continued to write some of his most significant works – Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences (Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze) – in which he presented his theories on the strength and resistance of materials and on motion.

View from Galileo's home is virtually unchanged
View from Galileo’s home is virtually unchanged

Shortly after Galileo moved to Arcetri, he received visits from Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici as well as the painter, who painted his portrait. Other guests were the Ambassador of the Netherlands (Galileo had printed many of his books in Leiden) and the English poet John Milton, who was so impressed that references to Galileo’s telescope made an appearance in Paradise Lost.

Portrait of Galileo by Giusto Sustermans
Portrait of Galileo by Giusto Sustermans

The MuseoBus tours are a fantastic way to get to less central museums and other historic locations. Each itinerary starts at a museum in the historic center and then goes out to a destination too far to walk to. The tours themselves are in Italian, directed by very knowledgeable guides, but even if you don’t understand everything said, the bus service makes it all worthwhile.

Save Time, Skip the Line, See the Duomo … and More!

I have a friend who recently visited Florence for a week with a to-do list that didn’t allow for standing in line for hours – too much to see, too little time. Unfortunately, Florence is the city of lines and, although with some planning a resident or visitor can reserve spots (for a price) in a shorter line at some of the museums, there was no way to avoid the queue at the Duomo. My friend solved her problem by signing up for a 15 euro tour of the cathedral that she didn’t want to take, but this saved her from standing with hundreds of people, waiting to get in the front door.

408 in line for the Duomo at 10am on August 24
408 in line for the Duomo at 10am on August 24

I have another friend who is one of those “it’s Tuesday so it must be Florence” type of traveler. He has to see the Uffizi, the David, the Duomo and the Baptistery between 9am and 7pm – no time for lines.

ARTFAST Priority Line Sign
ARTFAST Priority Line Sign

To the rescue comes the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and a Milan-based company called Key Fast. In partnership, they are trying to give visitors (tourists and citizens, alike) the option to skip the lines at the Duomo (visited by over 25,000 people per day), Brunelleschi’s Dome (approx. 2,000 climbers/day), Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Duomo Crypt and the Museo Opera del Duomo. The cost? A mere 7 euro for a Priority Pass that is good for unlimited expedited entries for an entire year. (To be clear: this card does not get you free entry, just fast entry (see below).)

For the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, this is forward thinking, unexpected of the 715 year-old lay organization that is charged with the conservation of the cathedral. For Key Fast, operating as ARTFAST, it was “simply” seeing a need and providing a solution.

One wishes that listless Ministero per I Beni e le Attivitá Culturali and bureaucratic Polo Fiorentino Museale, which are charged with solving the dual disasters of the never-ending lines at the Uffizi and the Accademia, take note of the ingenuity of the spry Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.

ARTFAST is a gem of an idea of the folks behind the year-old SKIFAST smart card. (SKIFAST allows skiers to get on the slopes faster by skipping the lines at the lift ticket windows.) ARTFAST, using the various sites in Piazza del Duomo as a trial operation, eventually hopes to aid visitors in Rome, Milan and Venice, to move more quickly into venues to marvel at the art and history, rather than roast slowly in the August sun. And, hopefully, ongoing negotiations will result in the service being offered at other museums in Florence (there may be hope for the Uffizi and Accademia, yet).

ARTPASS representative answers questions about the service
ARTPASS representative answers questions about the service

Visitors (and residents) can choose to buy the card and then go directly to the Priority Pass entrance (it may be a different door, it maybe a different speedy lane to the original entrance). Once inside, if there is an entrance fee (as with Brunelleschi’s Dome or the Baptistery) the Priority Pass holder will go immediately to the kiosk to purchase an entry ticket. If there is no entry fee, as with the main sanctuary of the Duomo, those with the Priority Pass will merely show their card to the attendant and enter (later, this activity will be mechanized with a swipe of the smart card).

ARTFAST hopes that soon the visit to the ticket kiosk will be unnecessary because of plans to install (at the cost to the Key Fast company of over 100,000 euro) a wi-fi smart card system that will allow ARTFAST cardholders to pay the fee by swiping the same card that allows them expedited entry.

All aspects of the service are not in place yet (wi-fi repeaters and smartcard readers need to be installed in very wi-fi-unfriendly ancient stone structures (something the prescient Brunelleschi never envisioned), therefore ARTFAST is testing parts of the system by using a simple plastic pass that is being sold by company representatives outside the door to the ticket office at the bottom of the stairway to Brunelleschi’s Dome. They can take all credit cards (except Amex), as well as debit cards. In the first ten days of the trial period, ARTFAST has been surprised and gratified by the popularity of the service. The initial supply of cards has run low some days.

Priority Pass to skip the line at 5 locations in Piazza del Duomo
Priority Pass to skip the line at 5 locations in Piazza del Duomo

As an American, I could tell them that my compatriots, on a hot (hitting over 100 F this week) museum-filled day in Florence, would be happy to pay 7 euro to be spared 30 to 45 minutes in line. (Today, I counted 408 people in the queue outside the Duomo just before the door opened at 10am.) This is especially true since the card works in five locations and can be used over and over (by the same person) for a full year. Reportedly, tourists from Spain, however, are outnumbering Americans in purchasing the pass.

Italian newspapers, trying to work up a bit of controversy, argue the card discriminates against the poor who can’t afford to expedite entry into the cost-free Duomo. This is an accusation without basis. The ARTFAST service actually shortens the line for those who don’t take part by getting Priority Pass holders out of the queue. When, in the near future, tour operators and their huge groups use it, the pass will make the Duomo line a thing of the past.

Reportedly, the priests are concerned that the marketing the ARTFAST pass makes it look like the Duomo is not open for free visits (please note that fees are charged at Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo…). Hopefully, they will soon realize this is merely a time-saving service that allows hundreds of people to be amazed and awed at the wonders of the third largest cathedral in the world, rather than be forced by time constraints (and perhaps, lack of patience) to forsake a visit the Duomo because of the incredible line.

Who says Florence is empty in August?
Who says Florence is empty in August?

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Florence Museum Card Face-Off

Attention:  Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici degli Uffizi members, holding valid membership and ID cards, are eligible for the free entrance and the priority pass to the Uffizi Gallery only. This severely limits the benefits of the card.

Trailing most other museum-intensive cities, Florence finally has two competing museum cards. And before too many more months pass, I promised myself that I would perform an analysis of the relative worth of the Firenze Card and the Amici degli Uffizi Card, which if you click on the foregoing links you will have a chance to read, in detail, about both cards.

Full Disclosure:  I am not good at math. (My sister got those genes from our father. I got our mother’s.)

Michelangelo's David at the Accademia Gallery
Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery

Our Mission

(I am assuming you are in this with me.) To determine which museum card, if any, should be bought by: 1) a lone traveler with a larger than normal interest in Renaissance art and history; 2) a couple (related by family (i.e. sisters), married, or domestic partners) with an interest in only seeing the David and the Birth of Venus; 3) a couple who are interested in seeing at least four museums; 4) a family of four (parents, two children) with only an interest in seeing the David; 4) a family of four interested in seeing the David and the Birth of Venus; and 5) a family of four interested in seeing more than those two museums, and also gardens, churches or Medici villas.

And to make us feel like we are lost in an especially complicated SAT math question, let’s add the variables of: a) a three day stay in Florence, or b) a more than three day stay in Florence.

Okay, we have only a limited time (or attention span) to solve this problem. (Spoiler Alert: get the Amici degli Uffizi Card)


Assumption (not proven): both cards are equally easy to purchase and to use at all qualifying museums.

Assumption (proven): both cards are accepted at the Accademia (the “David “(I know that you knew he was located there)) and the Uffizi (housing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and thousands of other great paintings).

Assumption (proven): if you do not want to wait hours in line, you must have reservations (4 euro extra per ticket for a reserved entry time) to the Uffizi and the Accademia. All of the other museums you can walk into within minutes.

Assumption (not proven): visitors to Florence hardly ever take the bus. (See Firenze Card bonus.)

Assumption (good for today):  1 euro = $1.42


Firenze Card

Firenze Card- 3 Day Museum Pass
Firenze Card- 3 Day Museum Pass

Cost: 50 euro ($72) per person

Free access to 30 major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence

Admission to museums is granted by showing the card at the entrance, with no reservation requirements

Free travel on public transports: ATAF&Linea buses and trams

Free access to museums and public transport for EU citizens under the age of 18 who are accompanying you (Note to U.S. families: this does not include you.)

Time Limit: 72 hours (3 days)

Amici degli Uffizi Card

Cost: Individual – 60 euro ($86); family of maximum two adults and two children (under 18 years) – 100 euro ($142); or “young people” (up to 26 years) – 40 euro ($57)

Amici degli Uffizi
Amici degli Uffizi

Free access to 22 major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence

Admission to museums is granted by showing the card at the entrance, with no reservation requirements

Reduced price tickets for concerts of the Teatro Comunale

Reduced price (15%) tickets for concerts of the Orchestra della Toscana at Teatro Verdi

Discount (20%)on price ticket for premières and Saturday performances at Teatro della Pergola

Time Limit: calendar year January 1 to December 31 (i.e. 3 days, if you buy it on December 29)

Ready for our problem sets?

Birth of Venus found in the Uffizi Gallery
Birth of Venus found in the Uffizi Gallery


One person who is in Florence for 3 days and wants to see two museums per day, including the Accademia and the Uffizi (for example, also the Bargello, San Marco, Boboli Gardens and Palatine Gallery (Pitti Palace)

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 15 euro ($22) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 14 euro ($20) (ditto)
Bargello – 4 euro ($6)
San Marco – 4 euro ($6)
Boboli Gardens – 6 euro ($9)
Palatine Gallery (incl. Modern Art Museum) – 8.50 euro ($12)

Cost for an Individual

Firenze Card:  50 euro ($72)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  60 euro ($86)
No card:  51.50 euro ($74)

Winner: Firenze Card (unless this person is either a) under 27 years of age; or b) a music lover (see Amici degli Uffizi discounts))

But if this person is in Florence for more than three days and/or wants to see more museums, villas, or gardens than those listed above, the Amici degli Uffizi Card is a better choice,

Couple or Two Related People (see Amici degli Uffizi “Family” definition above)

a) A couple who are in Florence for 3 days and only want to see the Birth of Venus and the David

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 30 euro ($43) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 28 euro ($40) (ditto)


Firenze Card
Firenze Card

Cost for a Couple or Two Related People

Firenze Card:  100 euro ($142)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142) (Family Membership)
No card:  58 euro ($83)

Winner: No card (remember to make reservations well in advance (call +39 055 292883)

b) A couple who are in Florence for 3 days and want to see four or more museums.

Winner: Tie between Firenze Card and Amici degli Uffizi Card (do the math yourself)

c) A couple staying in Florence for more than 3 days or want to see more than 2 museums, but not all in a three-day period.

Winner: Amici degli Uffizi Card


Family – 2 parents and 2 kids (not EU citizens)

a) Family is in Florence for 3 days and only wants to see David

Museum Ticket Prices

Accademia – 56 euro ($80) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)

Cost for a Family

Firenze Card:  200 euro ($287)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142)
No card:  56 euro ($80)

Winner: No Card

b) Family is in Florence for 3 days and only wants to see David and the Birth of Venus

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 60 euro ($86) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 56 euro ($80) (ditto)

Cost for a Family

Firenze Card:  200 euro ($287)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142)
No card:  116 euro ($166)

Winner: Amici degli Uffizi Card

c) Family is in Florence for more than three days and seeing everything

If you’ve made it this far, you know that the Amici degli Uffizi Card wins for families staying in Florence for longer than 3 days and if they want to see more than just the Uffizi and Accademia museums.


If you are under 27 and interested enough to read through this post you are clearly interested in more than the David and the Birth of Venus, so you should buy an Amici degli Uffizi Card for a “young person”, and you should read this post.

Amici degli Uffizi Cards
Amici degli Uffizi Cards

If you are a couple, or two people related in any way, or at least have the same address, and you want to see more of Florence, either gardens, villas or museums, as well as the incredibly expensive Uffizi and Accademia, you want to purchase the Amici degli Uffizi Card. Read on here.

If you are a family and you want your kids to see more than just the David, you should get an Amici degli Uffizi Card for a family (even if you have more than two kids (compare price for extra one or two “young people” Amici degli Uffizi Cards vs. Firenze Cards)). So read this post.

If you are an individual (over 27 years old) who is going to be in Florence for more than three days and want to see more than two museums or may be returning to Florence within a year or you live in Florence full time – you want to be the proud owner of an Amici degli Uffizi Card. Again, see this post.

BUT, if you (or you and a couple of unrelated friends) are just the type who races through one of the most fascinating cities in the world while checking off the David and the Birth of Venus on your list of 1,000 Things I Have to See Before I Die, then pay cash (but for heaven’s sake make a reservation) at the Uffizi and the Accademia or purchase the Firenze Card. You’ll thank yourself as you cross the Ponte Vecchio, while marking it, too, off your list.


Museum Passes in Florence: Part Two – Firenze Card, finalmente!

June 14, 2011 — Tuscan Traveler has compared the two museum passes available in Florence. Check this link.

The new mayor announced last year a “big deal” he had hammered out with Rome’s state museum authority – Florence, like every other major city in the world, was going to offer a museum pass. After the big press conference, nothing happened. Then, in the middle of January, Mayor Renzi said, “It’s on its way.” Nothing happened.

Yesterday, March 25, the 72 hour Firenze Card arrived at selected points (mostly museum ticket offices and official Tourist Information offices) and you, too, can benefit – mostly by skipping the queue/line – for the hefty price of 50 euro. Now will begin the debate over which is the best museum card in Florence – the Amici degli Uffizi Card or the Firenze Card. (Watch Tuscan Traveler for Museum Passes in Florence: Part Three – What’s the Best Deal?)

presentazione_ficardThe following comes directly off the very fine web site developed to support the card  where you can also buy the Firenze Card online (the emphasis is mine):

Firenze Card grants access to the major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence.

Firenze Card is a 72 hours (sic) card that gives you admission to 33 of the most important museums in Florence. You will have access not only to permanent collections, but also to exhibitions and all other activities held in that museum without further costs. You have just to show your card at the entrance to the museum’s personnel, who will record your entry and let you in. The card can be used just once in each museum, and it will provide free access also to a EU citizen under-eighteens (sic) accompanying you To use your card for public transport, just swipe it against the validation machines located on every bus or tram.

Firenze Card is activated on the first visit to a museum or first use of public transport. Since then you have 72 hours to visit the city and its historical and artistic heritage. The card’s validity is therefore independent from the purchasing time. Remember to write your name and surname on the back of your card before using it. Some museums can offer free access on special occasions. Please, consult the “News” page (online) to check updated timetables and find out access benefits and all the other information about museums.

ficard_acquistaFirenze Card is valid for 3 consecutive days from its first use. The card will expire at the end of the validity period and also your free access to museums and public transport with it. The card is strictly personal and not transferable, and it has to be showed with a proof of identity on request by the museum’s personnel.

In addition to free admission, Firenze Card allows you to avoid long queues at the ticket offices of main museums. Just look for the signs “Firenze Card” in your chosen museums and show your card to the personnel, who will record your entry and let you in.

It is promoted by the Municipality of Florence, the Ministry for the Arts and Cultural Activities, the Regional Direction of Cultural Heritage, the Special Superintendence for Historical, Artistic and Ethnic-anthropological Heritage and for the Museum Circuit of the city of Florence, the Province of Florence and the Chamber of Commerce of Florence, in collaboration with ATAF.

With the Firenze Card you get a lanyard with a handy pocket for the card and the accompanying booklet that describes all of the museums that qualify for “free” entry.

The following are the museums, gardens, villas and churches included in the Firenze Card Program:

Museo di Palazzo Vecchio – piazza della Signoria Firenze

Museo Stefano Bardini – via dei Renai 37 Firenze

Palazzo Medici Riccardi – via Cavour 3 Firenze

Museo di Santa Maria Novella – piazza Santa Maria Novella Firenze

Cappella Brancacci – piazza del Carmine 14 Firenze

Fondazione Salvatore Romano – piazza Santo Spirito 29 Firenze

Cappelle Medicee – piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini 6 Firenze

Galleria degli Uffizi – Piazzale degli Uffizi 6 Firenze

Galleria dell’Accademia – Via Ricasoli 58/60 Firenze

Galleria Palatina e Appartamenti Monumentali – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

110204_FirenzeCard_EmbeddedGalleria d’arte moderna – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo Giardino di Boboli – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo degli Argenti – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo delle Porcellane – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Galleria del Costume – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo Archeologico Nazionale – Piazza Santissima Annunziata 9b Firenze

Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure – Via degli Alfani 78 Firenze

Museo di Palazzo Davanzati – Via Porta Rossa 13 Firenze

Museo di San Marco – Piazza San Marco 3 Firenze

Museo Nazionale del Bargello – Via del Proconsolo 4 Firenze

Cenacolo Andrea del Sarto – Via di San Salvi 16 Firenze

Cenacolo del Ghirlandaio – Borgo Ognissanti 42 Firenze

Cenacolo del Fuligno – via Faenza 42 Firenze

Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia – Via XXVII Aprile 1 Firenze

Chiostro dello Scalzo – Via Cavour 69 Firenze

Complesso Monumentale Orsanmichele – via Arte della Lana 1 Firenze

Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi e Museo storico della caccia e del territorio – Via dei Ponti Medicei 7 Cerreto Guidi

Villa Medicea della Petraia – Via della Petraia 40 Firenze

Giardino della Villa Medicea di Castello – Via di Castello 47 Firenze

Museo di Casa Martelli – Via Zannetti 8 Firenze

Collezione Contini Bonacossi – Via Lambertesca 6 Firenze

Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano – Piazza de Medici 14 Poggio a Caiano

Villa Corsini a Castello – Via della Petraia 38 Firenze

Firenze Card Web Site

Dove Vai? – Sketches by Leonardo and Michelangelo at the Uffizi

The Uffizi’s new exhibition, Figures, Memory, Space. Drawings from Fra Angelico to Leonardo, displays over 100 works by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Mantegna, Michelangelo and Titian. It shows how drawings were used to prepare for major paintings and frescoes and, later in the 15th century, how they became works of art in their own right, particularly with the arrival of print-making from northern Europe.

Labyrinth design heightens the experience
Labyrinth design heightens the experience

The Florence show, divided between two Uffizi locations, combines works from the British Museum’s collection and from that of the Uffizi. Last year it opened to rave reviews in London.

Fifty prints are on view in a free exhibit in the Reali Poste exhibition space off of the Uffizi courtyard. A simple labiranth was created so that each of the sketches can be viewed in its own space and also offers a sense of privacy to the viewer.

Sketches from the 15th century - practice makes perfect
Sketches from the 15th century - practice makes perfect

Alexandra M. Korey best describes the emotional experience of seeing the original sketches of Leonardo da Vinci for the first time and enumerates three reasons you must visit the Reali Poste exhibit. Read her post on arttrav.com.

Not Leonardo, but his teacher Verrocchio, sketched in 1475
Not Leonardo, but his teacher Verrocchio, sketched in 1475

In addition to the detailed and exquisite pictures of figures, limbs and drapery, there are fast, rough sketches by the likes of da Vinci who used pen and ink drawings as a way of brainstorming and arriving at ideas for major works, some of which you will remember from past visits to the Uffizi. “One can sense the excitement as their quills raced over the paper to keep pace with the flow of ideas,” said British Museum director Neil MacGregor about the London exhibition.

Leonardo Di Vinci's sketches of a baby and a cat
Leonardo da Vinci's sketches of a baby and a cat

Brian Sewell, British art critic and media personality, who analyzed the drawings and sketches that made up the British Museum exhibit in the ThisIsLondon blog of the London Evening Standard, wrote, “It is drawing that gives first substance to the idea in the mind’s eye.” A Leonardo da Vinci series of quick rough sketches caught his fancy – two of these, Baby with Cat and Woman, Baby and Cat, can be seen at the Reali Poste exhibit:

Consider Leonardo’s studies of The Virgin and Child with a Cat. A cat? Where did that come from? A cat had no emblematic place in the traditional iconography of such a votive subject — a lamb perhaps, a bullfinch too, even two cherries on a bifurcated stalk to symbolise Christ’s testicles and his wholeness as a mortal man — but not a cat. Leonardo must have seen a cat squirming in the arms of a child, in turn in the arms of a kneeling girl, and recognised in the complication of the momentary torsions of three very different bodies a subject as difficult to pin down as the swirling waters of a whitewater river. The pen cannot move as rapidly as the model, nor record as swiftly as the eye and memory, and everywhere there are overdrawings and corrections. We cannot determine which of the five studies was first to develop on the sheet — they were probably all preceded by eight studies on another double-sided sheet — for it is only with the introduction of the Virgin that we sense the composition of a painting forming in Leonardo’s mind, a composition that in still other sheets developed into an arch-topped panel that in closely confining the energy of the group enhances it. The painting, alas, was never executed, and the drawings now act as records of what might have been. In the beginning was the line and in this case that must be enough.

Michelangelo 1495 pen and ink drawing - The Philosopher
Michelangelo 1495 ink drawing - The Philosopher

Most of the works on display were never intended for public exhibition although today they would be considered masterpieces. A drawing by Raphael for a work commissioned by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, sold in December 2009 for $47.9 million at Christie’s, a world record for any work on paper.

The excellent signage of Figures, Memory, Space. Drawings from Fra Angelico to Leonardo, both Italian and English, describes how the invention of paper, a cheaper alternative to vellum, was key to drawing’s development and distribution. The ever-expanding trade with the Far East is said to have changed the tools and colors of inks, the black, gray, red and white lead, silverpoint, metalpoint, the stylus, chalks, charcoal, and watercolors.

The Reali Poste opens into the courtyard of the Uffizi
The Reali Poste opens into the courtyard of the Uffizi

Once you have enjoyed the free view of 50 incredible designs dating from the 14th to 16th centuries, you can pay 15 euro for a reserved ticket to the Uffizi. Half-way up the arduous stairs to the main gallery, you can pause for breath and view more than 50 more in the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe on the Uffizi’s first floor, including prints that the Londoners did not get too see because they are deemed too precious to leave the gallery.

Museum Passes in Florence: Part One – Amici degli Uffizi

September 2015 — Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici degli Uffizi members, holding valid membership and ID cards, are eligible for the free entrance and the priority pass to the Uffizi Gallery only. This severely limits the benefits of the card

June 14, 2011 — Tuscan Traveler has compared the two museum passes available in Florence. Check this link.

As the prices of reserved tickets to the Uffizi or the Accademia hit 14 euro ($19) or above (depending on if an extra exhibit is included, such as last year’s Caravaggio or Mapplethorpe shows), there is much talk in Florence about a multi-day museum pass. And, in fact, the mayor has announced that soon a three-day 50 euro pass ($67) will be available.

But Florence already has a great museum pass – the Amici degli Uffizi membership card.

Membership cards to the Amici degli Uffizi - Friends of the Uffizi
Membership cards of the Amici degli Uffizi – Friends of the Uffizi

Established in Florence in 1993 by a group of concerned citizens, following a terrorist bombing that damaged the Uffizi Gallery and some of its precious artworks, Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) embarked on the task of restoring and maintaining the artistic heritage of the Uffizi Gallery.

Since 1993, the Amici degli Uffizi has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence by facilitating acquisitions, supporting restorations and organizing special temporary exhibitions. The Friends of the Uffizi Gallery (the American sister organization), in conjunction with the Amici degli Uffizi, raises funds to support all of these activities through an international group of members and patrons.

Over twenty important restoration projects, designated priorities by the Uffizi Gallery, have been completed over the last several years and include important paintings, altarpieces, sculptures and tapestries. The organization also underwrites special free exhibits for the public such as the recent one of Self-Portraits of Women Artists.

Original symbol of the Amici degli Uffizi
Original symbol of the Amici degli Uffizi

But best of all, for residents and visitors of Florence, Amici degli Uffizi offers its members a year-long museum card for 60 euro ($80) for individuals, 100 euro ($134) for families (2 to 4 members included in the one price), and 40 euro ($54) for students. Memberships can be purchased online or at the the Amici degli Uffizi Welcome Desk located between Entry Door Nos. 1 and 2 at the Uffizi Gallery.

The best part of having the Amici degli Uffizi card, besides free entry to more than twenty museums, (at the end of this post is a list of all of the museums included in this card) is the ability to skip the line.  At the Uffizi and the Accademia visitors wait for hours unless they have the foresight and the extra 4 euro to make a reservation. With the Amici degli Uffizi card you go to the ticket office, show your card and a photo i.d., and you are given a ticket for immediate entry into the museum.

Not to belabor the point, but the Uffizi is a huge museum, mind-numbing in its number of paintings. With the Amici degli Uffizi card you can go in to sit for an hour or so in the Botticelli Room and come back the next day (or after a nice lunch) to enter again with a new free ticket to peruse the Titians and pop by the monolithic Byzantine enthroned madonnas.

In 2010, the Amici degli Uffizi and the Polo Museale Fiorentino, launched a permanent welcome service for the association’s members. “We wanted to create a welcome point for local citizens and visitors equal to those that have been available in the world’s other great museums for some time,” said Maria Vittoria Rimbotti, President of the Association. “This is the first time that an Italian state museum is offering such a service.”

The Welcome Desk is located between entrances #1 and #2 of the Uffizi museum. Its hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Tel. +39 055 213560 and +39 055 284034)

Today's Friends of the Uffizi
Today’s Friends of the Uffizi

Although the Welcome Desk will be a reference point mainly for Florentines, it is an easy place to purchase your Amici degli Uffizi museum card. Greeted by polite and helpful (attributes frequently hard to find elsewhere in Florence) staff members (who also speak English) you will be able to register and become a member or renew your membership within minutes. (Remember to bring your passport.)

At the Welcome Desk, members will also be able to access useful information about the museum and the city, information about cultural programs sponsored by the province of Florence and the Tuscan regional government, and via the online connection with the APT (Agenzia Per il Turismo), visitors can obtain real-time information about current cultural programs.

The Amici degli Uffizi membership card provides free entrance to the following museums:

Galleria degli Uffizi,
Galleria dell’Accademia,
Palazzo Pitti:  Galleria Palatina,
Galleria dell’Arte Moderna,
Galleria del Costume,
Museo degli Argenti,
Museo delle Porcellane,
Giardino di Boboli,
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Museo delle Cappelle Medicee, Museo di Palazzo Davanzati,
Museo di San Marco,
Giardino della Villa Medicea di Castello,
Villa Medicea della Petraia,
Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano,
Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi e Museo storico della Caccia e del Territorio,
Cenacolo di Ognissanti,
Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto,
Cenacolo di Fuligno,
Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia, and
Chiostro dello Scalzo.

The Amici degli Uffizi membership card also provides:

– Reduced price tickets for concerts of the Teatro Comunale (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino)
– Reduced price (15%) tickets for concerts of the Orchestra della Toscana at Teatro Verdi
– 20% discount on price ticket for premières and Saturday performances at Teatro della Pergola