Italy’s Best Museums

Italy’s Best Museums

Monday, February 20th, 2012

With attractions such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the remains of Pompeii, it can be difficult to know where to start on holidays to Italy. A country populated by Roman ruins, artistic masterworks and natural wonders such as Mount Vesuvius and the rolling hills of Tuscany has a deep and rich history which just demands exploration.

Try as you might, you will never visit everywhere you want to in a single trip. The best place to start is to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the place by taking advantage of the many world-class museums on offer to truly get a feel for this unique past. Museums in Italy offer a full-price ticket, usually in the range of 10 – 20 euros depending on the day and season you visit, while most also have discounts for children, senior citizens, students and teachers.

One of the world’s best museums, the Uffizi Gallery is a must-see if you are in Florence. This sixteenth-century palace is home to the greatest collection of Renaissance paintings anywhere in the world and with an entrance fee of around fifteen euros, it is easy to spend an entire day marvelling at these masterpieces.

A visit to the Bargello Museum makes a perfect counterpoint to a day out at the Uffizi Gallery, as you can continue your exploration of the Renaissance here. Home to a huge collection of Renaissance sculpture, here you can see first hand Donatello’s bronze David as well as a number of other well-known pieces. Also located in Florence, this museum was originally built as a fortress palace in the thirteenth century and the building alone is well worth visiting for those who are more interested in architectural history.

After visiting the Bargello, you will most likely want to take the opportunity to contrast Donatello’s work with Michelangelo’s David. Luckily, this masterwork can be found nearby in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Also in this museum you can find a small collection of important musical instruments, including both a viola and a violin designed and played by Stradivarius.

Those visiting Rome will no doubt already be aware of the city’s status as one of the top cultural centres in the world. The city itself can be viewed as a vast museum but you will find a wide variety of smaller museums within this tapestry.

The Galleria Borghese has recently undergone a fourteen-year restoration project and should be at the top of your list when visiting Rome. A small museum housed in a seventeenth-century palace, the vastness of the collection massively outweighs the compactness of the space. For the cost of a full-price ticket (8.50 Euro) here, you can view some of the world’s most important paintings. A close-up view of pieces by Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Raphael is an experience that you will never forget.

Also in Rome, the National Etruscan Museum should interest any visitor. For those interested in history, you will find here a rich exhibit detailing a branch of Roman history that you are probably not as familiar with. The Etruscans were the ancestors of the Romans and in the museum you will find a vast array of unearthed treasures, including bronze and marble statuary, jewellery and pottery, all housed in a sixteenth-century papal villa.

Of course, any weekend break in Rome would not be complete without a wander around the Vatican.

At fifteen euros, the admission price to the Vatican Museums is incredibly reasonable given that you get access to a wide range of buildings and collections, as well as the opportunity to view the Sistine Chapel itself.

The Vatican Museums are essentially a collection of buildings in varying states of repair and disarray. But, just as in a treasure hunt, housed within these buildings are some of the most priceless and beautiful items you will ever see.

Greco-Roman antiquities and sculptures share space here with jewels and exquisitely hand-written texts. Murals painted by Raphael form a backdrop to centuries of accumulated treasures. It should take at least a day to explore the whole site.

Leaving the ancient cultural centre that is Rome and going to the more modern entity that is Milan provides a contrast. It is a bustling city that is warm and welcoming and is also home to a number of important museums.

The Brera Picture Gallery is located within a seventeenth-century palace and is home to a wonderfully rich collection of paintings by such notable artists as Mantegna, Bellini and Carpaccio. More than anywhere, it is here that you can truly feel the artistic and cultural history of this beautiful city.

While in Milan, you will definitely want to ensure that you take the time to visit one of the most famous paintings in the world. The Last Supper can be found in the Santa Maria delle Grazie refectory and the Church allows a small number of visitors to enter the chapel at a time to view the fresco.

It is not possible to create a truly exhaustive list of the many wonderful museums to visit while you are in Italy as, in reality, there are just too many fascinating things to see in the country. You should be able to create an itinerary based on your own particular interests but remember that there are some certain museums you simply must visit.

Image by ryarwood