I had read online somewhere that Italy has 60% of the world's known artworks. Not sure how accurate this figure is, but there's probably a grain (or two) of truth behind it.
For the first-time visitor cum culture vulture/museum buff, the array of museums and historical sites to be visited is quite dizzying. In Rome, the most popular ones are the Colosseum, Pantheon and Vatican (in particular, Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel). Then, amongst many other sites and museums, you have the Galleria Borghese, composed of 15th- to 18th-century art works.
In Venice, the Doge Palace, Accademia (largest collection of Venetian art in the world) and Peggy Guggenheim Collection (repository of modern art) vie for attention, with many smaller museums trailing behind.
|DAVID (from wikipedia)|
In Florence, you have the renown Accademia (where Michelangelo's famous David statue, with its oversized head and hands, reside). Click here for a bit of history on this masterpiece. Then you have the Galleria Uffizi, the world's finest collection of Renaissance art.
Unless one is a truly hardcore art/history buff, it is best to research beforehand and select what museum(s) one wishes to see. Ask yourself, "what do i want to see?", and forget about what your friends and/or various websites/travel guidebooks say you should see.
In my case, my head was spinning after 30 minutes inside the Uffizi. Really now, how many 17th- or 18th-century Madonna-and-child paintings does one need to see, anyway? Same goes for battle scenes, posed portraits, etc. After a while, they all start to look the same! Museo Sovraccarico (i.e. museum overload) set in rather quickly for me, haha.
There were some 'interesting' discoveries, though. Check out this statue in one of the Vatican museums:
|Bill Clinton at the Vatican (from Google)|
Looks uncannily like a certain former U.S. president, huh?
As for the Uffizi, whilst i was along the long corridor to the exit, i chanced upon this delightful work by the 16th century painter Bronzino, titled "The Portrait of the Dwarf Morgante", who was the favorite jester at the Medici court at that time.
|Morgante (from art.info)|
According to the Art.Info site, this work is unusual in that it was double-sided, showing front and back views of Morgante. Here's how he looks from the back.
|Morgante (from Discovery News)|
I don't know about you, but my head ache went away; and i exited the Uffizi with a spring in my step and a wide smile on my face.