Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze ☆☆

The 4C BC Chimera di Arezzo, Museo Archeologico, Florence, Italy (Photo by Alex Berger)
The 4C BC Chimera di Arezzo

This embarrassingly rich collection of exquisite antiquities from around the world is overlooked by most Florence visitors who are in full-throttle Renaissance mode

The Florence National Archeological Museum should be a major sight... and it would be, were it in any other city, one not so overwhelmingly devoted to the riches of the Renaissance.

It conserves Egyptian artifacts, Roman remains, tons of Attic (Greek) vases, and an important Etruscan collection. Parts of it have been undergoing restoration and rearrangement for years and are closed indefinitely.

The relics to be on the lookout for start in the first ground-floor room with an early 4th-century BC bronze Chimera ★★, a mythical beast with a lion's body and head, a goat head sprouting from its back, and a serpent for a tail (the tail was incorrectly restored in 1785). The beast was found near Arezzo in 1553 and probably made in a Chiusi or an Orvieto workshop as a votive offering. The legend that claims Benvenuto Cellini recast the left paws is hogwash; the feet did have to be reattached, but they had the originals to work with.

Ground-floor room III contains a silver amphora studded with concave medallions, a work from Antioch (ca. AD 380).

In room III on the upper floor is an extraordinarily rare Hittite wood-and-bone chariot from the 14th century BC.

Room XIV upstairs has a cast bronze Arringatore, or orator, found near Perugia. It was made in the 1st century BC and helps illustrate how Roman society was having a great influence on the Etruscan world—not only in the workmanship of the statue but also in the fact that the Etruscan orator Aule Meteli is wearing a Roman toga.

Room XIII contains the museum's most famous piece, the Idolino ★. The history of this nude bronze lad with his outstretched hand is long, complicated, and in the end a bit mysterious. The current theory is that he's a Roman statue of the Augustan period (around the time of Christ), with the head perhaps modeled on a lost piece by the Greek master Polycleitus. The rub: Idolino was originally probably part of a lamp stand used at Roman banquets. The male torso displayed here was fished out of the sea near Livorno. It was made in Greece around 480 to 470 BC—the earliest known Greek bronze cast using the lost wax method.

The horse's head also in this room once belonged to the Medici, as did much of this museum's collections, and tradition holds that it was a source of inspiration for Verrocchio and Donatello as they cast their own equestrian monuments. It was probably once part of a Hellenistic sculpture from the 2nd or 1st century BC.

The lovely little gardens are open Saturdays only.

Photo gallery
  • The 4C BC Chimera di Arezzo, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Alex Berger)
  • The Etruscan Sarcophagus of Larthia Seianti (189-158 BC), Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
  • Nuragic boat, from prehistoric Sardegna, from the Tomb of the Duke at Poggio al Bello, Vetulonia, 650-625 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The so-called
  • Egyptian funerary portrait from Fayoum, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
  • Ancient Greek glyptic of Jupiter, carved from chalcedony, 3C BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Glass Amphoriskoi from 6–5C BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Giovanni Dall
  • Egyptian canopic jars from the late or Ptolomeic age 664-30 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Etruscan painted alabaster
  • Cover of the Etruscan cinerary urn of Montescudaio, 700-650 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Etruscan bronze pin, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • An Etruscan cinerary statue of a mature mother from 450-440 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Portrait of an old veiled man, 30-20 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Portrait bust of Tiberius, AD 1C, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Knight in the style of Demetrius I of Macedonia, called Poliorcetes, from the 3C BC, atop a horse crafted by Benvenuto Cellini in 1548, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Grain grinder, Egyptian Fifth Dynasty, 2465-2323 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Idolino di Pesaro, a 5C BC Apollino Milani da Osimo, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • , Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Moon rabbit 365)
  • Egyptian statue from 664-332 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Egyptian Ptolomeic sarcophagus of Ankhhor, Arch Priest of Isis, 304-30 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Sleeping Cupid on a Lion Skin, AD 2C-3C, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Portrait of Trebonianus Gallus, also known as Gallus, Roman Emperor June 251–Aug 253, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • An Etruscan sarcophagus lid, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Carole Raddato)
  • Flabello (large ceremonial fan) from Populonia, 700-550 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • A Council fo the Gods, the Frontone A from the Great Temple of Luni, 175-150 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Apulia anfora of 350-330 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The
  • Leda, a Roman copy of a Greek original from the AD 2C, with a head added in the 17C, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The Medici-Riccardi Horse, from the late Classical or Hellenistic era (late 4C BC), Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Minerva d
  • Ciborium from Chiusi, 750–725 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Syrian glass jar, AD 3C or 4C, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Terracotta idol from in modern Turkey, 5250-5000 BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The garden, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Marco Vanoli)
  • Inghirami Tomb from Volterra, 4C–2C BC, Museo Archeologico, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
Museo Archeologico tours
 
More tours
 
 

Tips

Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Museo Archeologico for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does the Museo Archeologico take?

Give it a good hour or more—though you could breeze through in 30–40 minutes.

Last entrance: 45 minutes before closing time.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).