It amazes me that I am the first person to review the Museo Diocesano e Gallerie del Tiepolo or also called in some guide books the Palazzo Arcivescovile or Palazzo Patriarcale…maybe that’s the problem; too many names! But it’s probably because Udine may not receive many tourists, which is a pity because it’s has a genteel atmosphere and Friulian character, worth at least a day of exploration.
The Diocesan Museum is a must for art lovers. It was established in 1995 and is housed in the Patriarchal palace and is the current seat of the Bishop of Udine. The fabulous 18th century frescoes by Tiepolo are some of his earliest works and were commissioned by Patriarch Dionisio Dolfin (you can see the coat of arms everywhere in the palace, look for 3 dolfins) for his beautiful palace. Tiepolo’s frescoes are certainly enough to awe you, but the palace is also richly decorated with a gorgeous Pariarchal library built around 1711, in beautiful carved wood with allegories, cherubs and houses 10,000 volumes of precious books. Other gorgeous rooms contain frescoes by Tiepolo including the Blue Room, The Palatine Chapel, The Red Room and the show stopper, the Guests Gallery. This is an amazing room where your are surrounded by Tiepolo’s frescos depicting Biblical figures and the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jocob. The room was meant to welcome visitors before entering the Throne room…I would have never gone into the Throne room or left this room, its so magnificent!
Tiepolo’s frescos and gallery rooms are amazing, so it’s easy to overlook the wonderful rooms containing wood carvings. For this museum you actually start on the third floor (a good reason to rent the Audio Guide) and work your way down, following the numbered rooms. The third floor contains Tiepolo’s frescos, then you take the spiral stairs down to the carved wooden figures.
The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday at rather strange times, but following the typical Italian lunch break; 10:00-1pm and 3pm-6pm and costs 7 euro. DO pay the extra 3 euro for the Audio Guide, it’s one of the best I have ever heard. The actual device is antiquated, but the information is very well organized, interesting and detailed. In the Guests Gallery, it was wonderful, bring the entire room alive. It's an easy 15 minute walk for the city center. Photos are strictly forbidden anywhere inside but they have a very nice free brochure in both Italian and English which highlights many pieces of the art work. Don't miss this wonderful Palace museum!
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