By Marc Justin in Florence—
Last week I visited the Uffizi Gallery for the very first time. I know, I know, it’s in my backyard but walking past never-ending queues of people does something to a man’s motivation.
Finally, one of my recent guests harassed me into surrender. So how did this crowd-hater survive Florence’s busiest museum? Read on, my friend.
Beating the Lineup
Let’s start with the basics. See that lineup? See the desperate looks of dehydration? Not so pumped for the Renaissance now, are we?
Remember, the early tourist gets the ticket. The Uffizi opens at 8:15 a.m.. Be there. The line will be more manageable and the temperature more bearable. This type of entry costs €6.50. Or reserve online here for €10.50.
Or do what I did: a hybrid of both! Arrive when the museum opens and walk straight up to the reservation counter. Chances are that the 8:30-45 slot will be free so you’ll be able to just waltz in. Plus the museum will still be relatively empty so you win on both the outside and on the inside. Now doesn’t that feel nice?
Okay, so you’re in. Now what? Behold this precious advice: head straight to the top. I’ll repeat it. Go straight to the top floor because that’s where all the treasures are. Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli are all on the top floor. You can do the other floors later when you’re bored and tired.
Preventing Museum Vertigo
Museums in Italy are famous for their ability to bestow a severe case of bore-out upon the visitor. There are no buttons to push, no movies to watch and no fancy descriptions of what you’re seeing. Most blame it on Berlusconi.
But how to prevent museum coma (i.e. “Berluscoma”) from taking hold? Easy, use props. If there are audio guides (and there are), grab one. The production that goes into these things is often quite remarkable and not only will it keep you awake, but it will get that hamster running in your head so you might actually retain something. Plus they give you more freedom than an organized tour, which, let’s be honest, can be a bit of a pain.
Second, make a plan. Like I said earlier, it’s impossible to take-in everything, so check off a few things of interest and head to those first. Or else, you can always ingest a good dose of espresso and hope for the best.
Once you’ve taken it all in, you’ll be thrown into gift shop extraordinaire. A little tip on this, there are actually four gift shops in a row. Don’t spend all your money in the first one. Visit them all. Some carry similar items so compare prices and products.
There’s also a post office located just before the museum’s exit where you can write and send your hard-earned postcards.
The Uffizi is closed on Monday, but open from 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. every other day of the week.
Your Uffizi advice?
Have another tip for surviving the Uffizi? Share with us in the comments section.