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Free Sunday at Uffizi and Accademia

Because of our schedule, we have no choice but to go to the Uffizi and
Accademia galleries in Florence on Sunday, July 3. It's the first Sunday of the month,
and has free admission. Would imagine it will be very crowded. Would
appreciate any advice as to a strategy our family of eight adults can use
in going to those galleries on that free Sunday. Go early to one and late
to the other???? Or??? Thanks

Posted by
11733 posts

If there was any way around the loooooooong queue on free Sundays (the regular ticket line is long enough on any day during high season) everyone would be doing it! Unless I'm wrong, I can't think of any strategy at all other than picking the one museum you MUST see, and getting in line WELL before the doors open.

Bring your breakfast along to nosh while you wait. :O)
Good luck!

Posted by
2235 posts

John, given your schedule limitation, I would suggest your group go very early to the Accademia, have your breakfast while in line, spend an hour inside with David and a few other highlights, and skip the Uffizzi altogether this trip. It is a mad house even on regular days, takes a long time to get through, and I can't imagine trying to navigate with a group of 8, especially in the July heat. Leave it for the next trip. Spend a lot of your time outside around the magnificent Duomo complex, up to Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato around sunset, etc.

Posted by
64 posts

Thanks for the thoughts. I figured the free-day would be very, very busy, but hoped
there might be some ways to beat the system that day. Thankfully, we have the next
day, Monday, to see the Duomo and other Florence sites. But with the Uffizi and
Accademia closed on Monday, Sunday is our only choice. Guess we'll just have to
prepare for long lines.

Posted by
11733 posts

Free Sunday in July at the Uffizi/Accademia will be more than just " very busy", I'm afraid.

With so little time in the city, do you really want to spend a lot of that standing a hot and boring queue? A good idea would be to get there really early for the museum of your choice, and then see what the queue for the other looks like when you're done. If it's just ridiculous…

Florence is a great city to walk, and some of the fascinating churches should have visitation hours on Sunday. I can give you a list if those might appeal? The Bargello is also really good and might not be completely overrun (but closes early).

Posted by
64 posts

Kathy --- would appreciate any ideas of places in Florence you'd recommend. I reckon
we'll have to leave it to our kids and spouses as to if they want to pass on any of the two
major gallaries. Wife and I have been there several times and could stand to do other
things.

Posted by
11733 posts

John, here are a few ideas to get you started:

San Miniato al Monte and Porte Sante cemetery (free): just above Piazzale Michelangelo. She’s a a very old and interesting church, and the cemetery is just as interesting for a wander. Great view of Florence from both church and piazza. Take a virtual tour of the church here:

http://www.thinklab360.com/en/florence-virtual-tour/san-miniato-al-monte-church-360.html

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/san_miniato.html

Loggia dei Lanzi and Piazza Signoria (free):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loggia_dei_Lanzi

Piazza Santissima Annunziata is a favorite of mine. It’s just around the corner from San Marco (unfortunately closed on your Sunday) and you can see Andrea Della Robbia’s sweet, famous tondos on Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti; one of the very first foundling homes in the world. Look for the grated window on the front of the building that babies could be passed through, and which replaced a rotating wheel for the same purpose.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ospedale_degli_Innocenti

Santissima Annunziata church (on same piazza; free) is also well worth stopping into, and you’ll get an interesting perspective of Brunelleschi’s dome on the Duomo from the piazza.

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/Santissima-Annunziata.html

Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti: as they’re part of the Pitti Palace complex - which is a state museum - entrance will be free. They cover a lot of ground so no worries about being overrun. All of the galleries at the palace will also be open so take a peek at any which aren’t too busy. Use this site for info only as you will not need tickets, and the ‘official’ website for the Pitti is in disarray right now. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the text for "English."

http://www.b-ticket.com/b-ticket/uffizi/default.aspx

Santa Croce (Sunday afternoons;fee):
http://www.santacroceopera.it/en/default.aspx

Santa Maria Novella (fSunday afternoons; fee):
http://www.chiesasantamarianovella.it/en

Posted by
2901 posts

Many years ago, 1984 to be specific, we faced the same dilemma as you; namely, a free Sunday being the only time for visiting the Uffizi. It was in December - - low season. I can only say that it was awful. If you took a step back to get a better view of a painting, the space was immediately filled by another person. Every major work had to be seen by craning your neck around another body. That was more than 30 years ago and, I repeat, low season. I include this just to give you a detailed notion of what to expect. I've avoided free days ever since.
I think you've gotten some good suggestions here. I would probably accept the advice to get in line early for the one you most want to see. Do other things the rest of the day. Towards closing time, you could check the other to see if the crowds have thinned out. Enter, if it looks feasible.

Posted by
64 posts

Rosalyn and Kathy: Many thanks for the great ideas. As I think about what to consider doing, two other things come to mind ---
First, on free Sundays, do the guides-for-hire have any pull in getting into the galleries without waiting???
Second: Might it be wise to try and see one of the places -- Accademia or Uffizi -- on the free Sunday and then try to
see the other on the morning of July 5 when we train to Venice??? Understand the train takes 2-3 hours. Could we do one of the
galleries in the morning and still make the train to Venice???? Does that make any sense??? Can't thank you guys enough for the help. While I have your attention -- would you recommend using Rick Steves' podcasts for those two major attractions or hire guides? We've had good luck with Rick's podcasts in Rome. Again, many, many thank.

Posted by
11733 posts

John, have you already purchased your tickets to Venice? If so, what time do you have to be on the train? It may or may not be possible to do the 2nd museum depending on departure time. If you have not purchased tickets, then you have more flexibility - although you definitely should make an advance, Tuesday morning reservation to avoid the queue.

As far as I know, guides have no more 'pull' on free Sundays than anyone else as the museums simply do not sell tickets at all for those days. Now, I saw mention on two websites that people with active Firenze Cards can skip the line on free Sundays BUT that is not stated on the Firenze Card website, websites of the museums themselves, nor have I read mention from visitors who'd successfully done it so without absolute confirmation, I can't and won't in good faith state that as fact. Even if it's possible, it would be a very expensive way of doing it, and while queues might be semi-avoided (even with a pass, people have to wait if a museum is full to capacity) the wall-to-wall mob inside would not.

Posted by
48 posts

The worst part about visiting the Uffizi during high season is when the tour groups sweep into a room that you are in. Suddenly you are pushed to a corner and have to hunker down until their guide finishes his presentation and they all scoot along to the next room. It's kind of funny watching these people get the abridged 90 minute sweep through the museum.

Posted by
4142 posts

Kathy's right; there are soooo many wonderful things to see and do in Florence that it's a shame to spend hours in line to spend hours fighting the crowds in the museums. Is there any chance you could stay another day in Florence?

If I had to pick only one of the two top museums, it would be the Academia. The David is magnificent, much better than one would think, having seen only photos or reproductions. Then go to the Duomo, explore the piazzas, go find some blissfully spiritual Fra Angelico frescoes, and just inhale Florence. Buon Viaggio!

Posted by
20729 posts

If at all possible we have learned to avoid free days. The crowds are simply overwhelming. The locals enjoy a bargain better than the tourists. And there are a lot of locals. So you will just have to plan around it best you can.

Posted by
64 posts

You guys are great -- wonderful thought, ideas and warnings. My thought now is to check the train schedules
and see if we can get from Rome to Florence early enough on Saturday to hit either the Uffizi or Accademia that
day and/or hit the other one early Tuesday before we train to Venice.

Posted by
64 posts

You guys are great -- wonderful thought, ideas and warnings. My thought now is to check the train schedules
and see if we can get from Rome to Florence early enough on Saturday to hit either the Uffizi or Accademia that
day and/or hit the other one early Tuesday before we train to Venice.

Posted by
11733 posts

Great! Will cross fingers that the timing works for you!

You do know that you don't just buy tickets, right? You have to commit to a specific time slot for both museums, and they're not forgiving if you miss them so timing is of the essence. In case you don't have the ticketing/reservation site, this is it:

http://www.b-ticket.com/b-ticket/uffizi/default.aspx

Posted by
2235 posts

John, the Uffizi is MUCH larger and slower than the Accademia, so I would suggest you get the earliest time available for the Accademia on Tuesday morning. Depending on the location of your hotel or inn, you may be able to leave your baggage there and return to pick it up twixt museum and train. I wouldn't count on storage for real baggage at the museum, certainly not for 8 people on a busy free day. You might store your baggage at the train station, but that would cost a few euro per bag, and you would need to allow adequate time both to check it and to pick it up. I see that on Tues July 5 there are hourly fast trains to Venice which take 2 hours and 5 minutes, of course that's not counting arrival and prep time in the station. Super-Economy fares of €29 are available now, if you can totally commit to a certain schedule. That could save 8 people a pile of Euros. When I looked there was even a €19 fare at 10:30 am, but that would seem too early to go to through museum and still catch the train, unless maybe you limit yourselves to a quick turn around David. I'm afraid you and your family are facing the same dilemma that many of us face when we have limited time in Italy: setting priorities. We can't be in two (or three) places at the same time, and often we can't have a leisurely time and still try to fit a lot of sites and experiences in, especially in the hot and crowded summertime. Good luck. From my own personal viewpoint, visiting David and a few other pieces at the Accademia have been wonderful and not very time-consuming, and every time I have gone to the Uffizi I have found it crowded, hot even not in summer, hard to follow, quite endless, and overall, disappointing.

Posted by
64 posts

Once again, you guys are awsome. Larry, your ideas are good.
Two things --
First -- think I'll check the trains and see if we can get from Rome to Florence early enough to see
one of the two galleries. Though that may be asking too much. (Our lodging in Florence is an apartment
a couple blocks from the Duomo.) And catch the other (Likely the Accademia) on the Tuesday before we leave.
If we won't have time on the Saturday to do the Uffizi, we can just suck it up and do it on Sunday and try to
enjoy meeting folks as we wait in the loooooooog line. And do the Accademia early Tuesday before we train
to Venice.

Second: I have used Rick Steves' podcasts in Rome and found them as good or better than hiring
guides. How have you guys found his podcasts?? Or think it's best to hire a guide??

Again, many thanks, for helping wife and I make this once-in-a-lifetime trip for our three kids and their spouses
a memorable experience.
john

Posted by
2815 posts

I didn't read every post but normally in July both museums are open till 11 pm Saturdays (and Tuesdays). These lightly visited extended hours do not require reserved tickets.

If you started at the Uffizi by 6 pm you could finish at the Accademia at 10:00 pm. Last July we were at the Accademia from 8:30-10:00 pm on a Saturday at it was eerily quiet.

Posted by
64 posts

thanks, Tom. I'll check on that. If you're correct, it could help us a lot.

Posted by
11733 posts

Tom, I'm not seeing any mention of Saturday late openings for either museum. There is mention of Tuesday late hours at the Accademia (July - Sept) on the Uffizi.com website but that's not the 'official' site: the previous official site (http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it) is no longer being updated, and things are sort of in disarray until new sites can be created.

That doesn't mean that late openings in July aren't a possibility, just that I can't find anything definitive to go on at this moment! It's a little frustrating with high season just around the corner…

If anyone sees something I'm missing, please share?

Posted by
2815 posts

Last year they announced the July to December extended hours in a press release on the website in the middle of June (it's probably still there). The hours page was never updated to reflect the temporary changes. I was in the same boat last year, wanting to plan but lacking the facts. I was assured by other travelers that the extended July hours would happen and they did. It's Italy folks, that's how it works.

Recently both museums installed new German directors http://www.uffizi.org/2146-eike-schmidt-selected-as-new-director-of-uffizi-gallery
Hopefully this will improve communication and the guest experience in general.

Posted by
11733 posts

Thanks Tom: I'd seen last year's notice but was reluctant to have anyone bank on it as things can change. Fingers are crossed that the same long hours make a return for 2016!

Mr. Schmidt's move was a sad loss for us and our excellent MIA but should be great for him and the Uffizi.

Posted by
64 posts

Any of you guys know of a web site or person I could e-mail to ask of the later Saturday hours will be in effect
this summer? I tried this one: ga-uff@beniculturali.it --- but since I only did so a few hours ago, I don't know if
it is a good address or contact.
How is it you guys know so much about traveling in Italy?? Whatever the reasons, I sure appreciate your thought, ideas
and suggestions.

Posted by
11733 posts

John, I'd looked around around for a contact but wasn't coming up with much. The article in the link below explains more of the current problem; in short, the "Polo Museale Fiorentino is being dismantled...". That was the contact you'd emailed, and I'm not at all sure they'll respond.

http://www.uffizi.org/2319-what-happened-to-the-uffizis-official-website/

But the individual (Lourdes Flores) who contributed that article responds to a lot of questions on this site:

http://www.visitflorence.com

This is the direct link to their Florence forum; you might try posting the question there?

http://www.discovertuscany.com/forum/florence/

LOL, knowing a bit about Italy is simply a matter of having been there; done that! :O)

Posted by
2815 posts

John: I was just there. Italy is not exactly the height of efficiency, but things usually work out. Just prepare for some disappointments and recognize that there are many other things to see and do if something jams up. For example, last summer at the Roman Forum we were pacing ourselves for a long, end of day visit (7:30 pm closing). We started at Palatine Hill at 4:00 (late start to avoid the worst heat) and slowly worked our way through and down to the Forum taking our time. We were just getting to the best parts of the forum when suddenly staff is herding people out for an early, unannounced 7 pm closure-- no explanation, no notification, just shooed us out and fairly rudely.

I read that Termini Station now restricts platform access to tickets holders only which is fantastic and overdue since that place was one of Europe's great ongoing crime scenes.

Kathy: I see now that I wasn't linking the official website before, but it sure provides good info.

Posted by
11733 posts

I agree, Tom. It just makes me a little wary of the word that isn't from the horse's mouth, if you catch my drift? Italy can present some, er, interesting surprises. But as you say, things usual work out if one cheerfully puts one's mind to it! :O)