The Uffizi was originally the offices created to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates. The project commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany planned to display prime art works of the Medici collections on the piano nobile; the plan was carried out by his son, Grand Duke Francesco I. He commissioned from the architect Buontalenti the design of the Tribuna degli Uffizi that collected a series of masterpieces in one room, and was a highly influential attraction of a Grand Tour. Over the years, more sections of the palace were recruited to exhibit paintings and sculpture collected or commissioned by the Medici. After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums.
The Uffizi is “u” shaped running from Palazzo Vecchio to the River. You can see the connection of the Palazzo to the Uffizi to the Ponte Vecchio and then through to the royal residence on the other side of the river. As you enter you see the Medici crest to remind you of who’s boss and then two flights of stairs to a gallery running the length and back again of the building. The ceiling is ornate with picto-grams of important people lining the edge of the ceiling.
Once inside, each room is filled with the art collected by the Medicis starting with the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Here is a tiny sample.
Although this is off peak the crowds in the Uffizi made it uncomfortable and the guided tour seemed rushed so we handed in our radios at the end of the top floor and made our way through the lower floors without the pressure of the tour. Here we saw the unfinished work of Leonardo Da Vinci “the Adoration of the Magi” for the high altar of the church San Donato a Scopeto and the finished picture by Filippino Lippi a contemporary and competitor of Da Vinci.
The benefit of the tour is to get inside without waiting 5 hours in queues outside. Back to the Apartment again to prepare for the next day.
Up bright and early – hey who played around with my watch its 7.45 am. It’s overcast so no idea of the time therefore slept in. Never the less we left the hotel on time to visit Clos Luce, Leonardo da Vinci’s last home (gifted to him by King Francois 1st). It’s a bit more than a home but not quite a chateau. It is surrounded by lovely gardens and contains a history of da Vinci’s engineering designs and inventions from military to civil. Even had Kerry interested (oops spoke to soon she’s sitting down – time to move on).
We had chosen to walk but it’s another shitty day weather wise windy and wet which made the entrance to Castle Amboise a bit treacherous. The castle is in the middle of the city and as we walked to the castle we noticed that the castle walls contained houses. I don’t know when but people have constructed house in the castle walls. They are privately owned so we could not see inside but quite different. Les Troglodytes – Oui!
The castle itself is only part of the original (about 50% I guess has been demolished over time). What remains was interesting. Da Vinci is buried there. He lived in Amboise only 3 years before dying and in his will he asked to be entombed in the St Florentin church in Castle Amboise and when this was demolished they dug up his bones some coins (by which they determined these were da Vinci’s bones) and re interred him in the St Hubert Chapel also in the castle grounds (where you can see him today).
Home for a sandwich and then we drove to Château Chenonceaux. Now this place is unique in that it is built in the river Cher with a short timber bridge on one end and a 60m bridge connecting it to the other side (the bridge was covered in by Catherine de Medici (wife of Henri II) after his death and after she took the château back from Henri’s lover Diane of Poitiers (for whom Henri acquired the Château). The “bridge” was turned into a banquet hall by Catherine and the château changed hands a few times up to 1945 but is now a heritage building. It is not opulently fitted out but is interesting because of the various people who have called it home since 1521.
Back in Amboise we noticed a very old building containing a quaint restaurant across the road from the hotel (across the road – you can see into the restaurant and vis a versa – the road is 6m wide from the wall of our hotel to the wall of the restaurant). So we had drinks in the living room of the hotel browsing the local picture books on the sites of the Loire Valley then ambled across the road for dinner. But for the fact it was blowing a gale and probably close to 0c it was lovely.
To bed to dream and check the internet. Bugger! We had planned to visit Futuroscope outside Poitiers but it is closed until February 14 – one of our goals was to go back to Futuroscope but now we are going to miss it. In France when something says on its web site opening in February do not think they mean the 1st of February.