by Melinda Gallo

A quick trip to the Uffizi

This morning I was unable to get motivated while sitting in front of my computer so I decided to go to the Uffizi. Iíve been wanting to go back ever since I purchased my Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) annual tessera (card) last week. The woman who was working in the office asked me if I was able to visit all the museums last year. I realized that I had been to most of them, but not the Uffizi. Even though I walk past it almost every day, I shy away from going sometimes because either there are large crowds to content with or there is just so much to see.

There was no line when I arrived this morning at 11am so I walked right in and headed up the three flights of wide stone steps. I poked my head in a few of the rooms, but walked through very quickly. Before entering the museo (museum), I had one painting on my mind that I wanted to see: La Nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus).

I did make one stop, however, at the large windows revealing the Arno and the south side of the city, Oltrarno. As always, I was mesmerized by the fiume (river) and the veduta (view). For at least a half hour, I stood in front of one of the windows and stared at the Ponte Vecchio and all the other ponti (bridges) along the Arno. People stood next to me to take foto (photos), but I tried to absorb the veduta and capture it.

Outside the city looked peaceful with a few cars passing below and even fewer people walking along the Arno. It had been raining all morning and the low grey clouds I saw in the horizon promised more rain to come.

Once I pulled myself away from the veduta, I walked over to Botticelliís room. I stood behind the black leather benches assembled in a square to gaze at La Nascita di Venere. One girl was hunched over her sketching pad to do a watercolor of a part of the painting.

While I was standing in the room, my eyes were drawn to Primavera (Spring), which is just as stunning. I couldíve stayed in Botticelliís room for at least another hour just looking at these two masterpieces. They are not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also mystifying. I just wanted to look at it up close, then from afar, and then up close again. Each time I noticed new details and appreciated it a little bit more.

When it got a little crowded in Botticelliís room, I left and continued through the museo. I let myself float in and out of rooms and stood in front of pieces that caught my eye. My tessera affords me one of the greatest luxuries and that is not to feel the obligation to see everything in one visit. I know that I can come back as often as I like, so I just looked at what interested me.

At the end of my visit, before heading downstairs, I sat once again near the large windows along the Arno. I felt almost overwhelmed by all the works created by hundreds, if not thousands, of artists over the last few centuries. To think that so many people dedicated their lives to produce such beauty and that itís all on display in one, albeit large, museo is almost mind-boggling.

I enjoyed my relatively quick visit to the Uffizi today, and look forward to returning to appreciate other masterpieces. I realized as I was leaving the museo that I saw La Nascita di Venere as a symbol of Florence. For me, Venere, the goddess of beauty and love, is Florence. Venere represents all that my beloved city possesses and shares with all of us.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I live in Florence where I am surrounded by her splendor.

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