If Florence is the capital of the Italian Renaissance, the Bargello Museum is the capital of Italian Renaissance sculpture. Housed in the city’s medieval Palazzo del Podestà, the collection includes masterpieces by Cellini, Andrea della Robbia, Luca della Robbia, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Donatello.
Palazzo del Podestà, Florence’s oldest public building, served as a barracks and prison before becoming the National Museum of the Bargello in 1865. Today, the art museum is home to an extensive collection of Renaissance works displayed in a series of vast apartments, including gold, armor, bronze animals made for the Medici family gardens as well as tapestries. The centerpiece of the Bargello collection, however, is the statuary that dates from the 14th to 16th centuries.
This is one of the most popular art collections in Florence; avoid a long wait by booking skip-the-line tickets ahead. Many Renaissance Florence walking tours include a stop at the Bargello; there’s a lot of art and history to take in, though, so consider reserving a private tour with an expert guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Highlights include bronze relief panels created by Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello's David and St. George Tabernacle, Michelangelo's Pitti Tondo, and Sansovino's Bacchus.
- In the Bargello Chapel, don't miss the one of the oldest portraits of the poet Dante Alighieri, part of a fresco fragment attributed to Giotto.
- The Bargello Museum is wheelchair accessible.
- Large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas must be left at the free coat check.
How to Get There
The Bargello Museum is located on Via del Proconsolo; it’s a 10-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station.
When to Get There
The Bargello Museum is free the first Sunday of the month, so those days are especially crowded. The museum is closed on alternating Sundays and Mondays; to avoid confusion, visit Tuesday through Saturday.
Palazzo della Podestà
With its fortified and crenellated facade, maze-like interior with fine halls, balconies, and loggia overlooking a courtyard, this austere, fortress-like building was the inspiration for Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.