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You should know that the palace housing the Uffizi wasn't originally built to be a museum. It was part of a grandiose sixteenth-century urbanization project designed by Cosimo I de' Medici, who wanted to bring the various Florentine magistrates together in a single place, the "Uffici", or offices. Then the Grand Duke Francesco I entrusted the palace's east corridor to Bernardo Buontalenti so he could transform it into a place for conserving and exhibiting paintings and sculptures: this first nucleus of the museum remains the incredibly precious Tribunal, which I'll discuss later. Francesco I's successor, his brother Ferdinando, brought rich collections of weapons, paintings, and scientific instruments to the Uffizi.

Already at the end of the 16th century the museum was visited by illustrious people and guests of the Medici family, and shortly thereafter legal measures were taken to prohibit the sale and export of artwork. Over the seventeenth century the Gallery continued to grow, also expanding onto the west side. The museum's most important year in history is 1737, when Anna Luisa Maria, the last descendant of the Medici, gave the Lorenas the family's art collections under the strict condition that they were to stay within the city of Florence and could not be sold.

At the end of the 18th century, when the museum began to take on its present appearance, the paintings were separated by regional schools among the forty halls of the second floor and accompanied by numerous ancient sculptures, while new specialized museums were established for the various collections.


FUN FACT: Bernardo Buontalenti, who I mentioned when telling you about the east corridor of the Uffizi, was a very versatile man who was also interested in cooking. It is said that he personally invented a delicacy that has been cherished ever since: gelato!

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