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Galleria degli Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous art galleries in the world. Originally the building, constructed at the end of the 16th century, was the offices ("Uffizi") of the Florence magistrates. The Medici used it to store and display the art works they bought or commissioned and it was opened to the public as early as 1765. Today the Gallery occupies the first floor but many works are in storage or have been given to other galleries in the city. Plans are underway to extend the available space. Many of the great works of the Italian Renaissance can be seen here, including paintings by Cimabue, Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Titian, Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Raphael. Artists from other countries are also represented: Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens. The beauty of the building itself should not be ignored, with its long perspective between the two wings leading from the Piazza della Signoria down to the Arno, and the frescoed internal decoration. Queues to get in can be exceptionally long in the main tourist season, and visitors are advised to consider booking on-line in advance. Details of this and opening times are on the website.
Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria was the centre of Florentine life from medieval times ("Signoria" was the civic council) and public events and entertainment were held here. It is surrounded by important buildings dating back to the 14th century: the Palazzo della Signoria (also called Palazzo Vecchio) and its Loggia, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo del Tribunale di Mercanzia and the 16th century Palazzo degli Uguccioni. The exception is the 19th century Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali but that is constructed in Renaissance style. The square is distinguished by the works of art on display, some in the open and some in the Loggia, a practice which began in the 16th century. Michelangelo's David and Donatello's Judith and Holofernes are copies but the others by Giambologna, Cellini, Ammannati and Bandinelli are originals. Ammannati's Fountain of Neptune was created for the occasion of Francesco Medici's wedding in 1565 and symbolises Florence's dominion over the sea. It was not appreciated at the time and has been much damaged and vandalised over the centuries, most recently in 2005. Today the square remains a focal point of the city and is pedestrianised.
The Ponte Vecchio (translated as “Old Bridge”) over the Arno River dates from Roman times and was rebuilt in 1345 with further restructuring in 1564. It contains a number of shops and arches, with a corridor above the shops. There is also a statue of Cellini on the bridge.