Palazzo Pitti in Florence
Palazzo Pitti is considered the largest palace in Florence. The splendid palazzo, built in the Quattrocento style, is located near the Boboli Gardens.
The antique interiors, a collection of paintings, precious items, and more are all worth a visit!
History of the origins of Palazzo Pitti
The founder and first owner of the palazzo was the banker Luca Pitti from Florence, who was well acquainted with Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici the Old. He planned to use the palazzo as his own residence.
Under the orders of the banker the building began to be built in 1458, but in 1464 work had to be suspended due to lack of funding. The fact that Pitti had money problems after the death of Cosimo de Medici.
The customer never got to see the creation completed – in 1472 he died. Then only the wide doors and windows in the lower part of the facade were erected.
To date, it is controversial who exactly acted as the architect. Some historians believe it was Filippo Brunelleschi, assisted by his pupil Luca Fancelli.
Although others tend to believe that it was Luca Fancelli who was the main architect. The main argument in favor of this position is the fact that Filippo Brunelleschi died a few years before the palace was built.
In addition, the style of building more drawn to the architectural style of the student of the great master.
The transfer of the Pitti Palace to the power of the Medici
After the death of the banker, the palace was owned by his heir, Bonaccosro Pitti. Due to financial problems, he sold the palace to Eleonora di Toledo, who was the wife of Cosimo I de Medici. She intended to have a residence here.
However, for a long time after moving to the new palace, the Palazzo Vecchio was still the family’s primary residence, with the Palazzo Pitti used for official receptions.
The Medici art collection was later moved here under Ferdinando de’ Medici, son of Eleonora of Toledo.
Among the famous events that took place in this palace is the symbolic wedding of Henri IV, King of France, and Maria de Medici.
The enlargement of the palazzo, the Vasari corridor and the Boboli Gardens
Under Cosimo I, the palace was considerably enlarged, thanks to the work of Bartolomeo Ammannati. He added an annex on the back side, thereby almost doubling the area of the building.
Ammannati replaced the entry doors on the sides of the central portal with huge windows. He also decorated the courtyard with pilasters, semicircular arches, and columns.
Photo: RobMenting / Shutterstock.com
In addition, the Grand Duke of Tuscany commissioned the talented architect Giorgio Vasari to build a secret corridor. This was done in the middle of the 16th century on the occasion of the wedding of his son Francesco and Joanna von Österreich, daughter of Emperor Ferdinando I.
The Vasari Corridor, named after its creator, connected the Pitti Palace with the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. It started from the former Palazzo Cosimo and Palazzo Vecchio. Its total length is about 1 km.
Thanks to the corridor Cosimo I and his family had no problem moving to a new residence.
During the reign of the Medici also created the Italian Boboli Gardens on the hill of the same name behind the palace. The grounds were first landscaped by Niccolò Tribolo, and after his death the work was continued by the architect Bartolomeo Ammannati.
Photo: Lucy / Shutterstock.com
Who owned it afterwards
After Gian Gastone de’ Medici died in 1737, the palace was inherited by his sister Anna Maria Luisa von Medici, the last direct descendant of the Medici dynasty.
When Anna Maria died in 1743, the palace became the property of Emperor Franz I Stephan of the Austrian house of Lorraine. At this time, porticoes and terraces were built, as well as two wings: the Carriage Rondo and the Bacchus Rondo.
The palace was then briefly used by Napoleon. From 1860 it passed into the possession of the new rulers of Tuscany, the Savoy family.
During the period when Florence was the capital of the Italian kingdom, it was occupied by King Victor Emmanuel II – until 1871.
At the beginning of the 20th century grandson of the king Victor Emmanuel III made the palace national property. He allocated a museum and five galleries in the palace that were constantly replenished with various collections.
Currently is one of the most famous and largest complexes with a huge number of museum exhibits. In total, there are about 140 rooms open to the public.
Since 1982, the attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The architecture of the Pitti Palace
At first glance, the palazzo looks stern and unapproachable. The rusticated façade is made of massive stone blocks. The windows are quite close to each other on the upper two floors, and the distance between them is greater on the lower floor. In front of the building is a wide square.
The façade reaches a length of 205 meters and a height of 38 meters.
There are several legends associated with the construction of the palazzo.
One of them says that Luca Pitti sought to build a palace that would surpass the residence of his patron, Cosimo de Medici. Particular attention was paid to the windows, which he demanded to be as large as possible.
Others suggest that the palace was erected by townspeople who had been banished from Florence for some misdemeanor. If they could participate in the work, they found shelter here.
What to see inside
The many halls house several galleries and museums:
- Palatine Gallery;
- The Imperial and Royal Apartments;
- The Treasury of the Grand Dukes;
- Gallery of Modern Art;
- Museum of Fashion and Costume.
The interiors were created long after the palace itself was built. Much of the decoration was done in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Walking around the numerous halls of the Pitti Gallery, you can’t help but marvel at the magnificence of the decor: luxurious antique furniture, fanciful moldings with gilding, tapestries, frescoes, paintings …
The Galleria Palatina contains over 500 paintings from the Medici collection. The walls of the rooms are literally hung with true masterpieces of art. And what about the exquisite Baroque interior!
Initially, the paintings were supposed to be a decorative element – they are placed without any special gallery order. Because of this there is an indescribable feeling: you are not looking at masterpieces in the empty halls of a museum, but among the ancient furniture, sculptures and magnificent decorations.
You can admire masterpieces by such masters as:
- Titian (Tiziano Vecellio),
- Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio,
- Pieter Paul Rubens,
- Bartolomé Esteban Murillo,
- Antoon van Dyck,
- Fra-Bartolomeo and others.
It is considered that the Palazzo Pitti houses the largest collection of paintings by Raphael, with a total of 11 paintings by this genius artist.
Of particular note are the rooms of the Planets (Sale dei Pianeti), decorated with a series of frescoes by Pietro da Cortona. He worked on them between 1640 and 1647 for Ferdinando II de’ Medici.
Gallery of Modern Art
The Galleria d’Arte Moderna is situated on the second floor of the palace and overlooks the Boboli Gardens.
It mainly features a collection of paintings and sculptures from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. Many works are from the collection of Diego Martelli. The collection is still being supplemented by donations.
A separate place in the gallery is occupied by paintings of representatives of the Macchiaioli movement, Symbolism and Impressionism.
Among the artists whose works are in the gallery are:
- Giovanni Fattori (Giovanni Fattori),
- Silvestro Lega,
- Giovanni Boldini,
- Telemaco Signorini,
- Camille Pissarro,
- Plinio Nomellini and others.
Treasury of the Grand Dukes
On the first floor is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (Tesoro dei Granduchi). The walls are decorated with frescoes representing scenes from the wedding of Ferdinando II de’ Medici and Vittoria della Rovere in 1637.
Amazing vases made of rock crystal and hard stone, ancient Roman amphorae, ivory, jewelry and other precious exhibits are fascinating.
Many silver pieces that were brought to Florence by Ferdinando III of Lorraine (Ferdinando III di Lorena). Originally they belonged to the bishops of Salzburg. They are pieces of the so-called Salzburg Treasure (Tesoro di Salisburgo).
Fashion and Costume Museum
The Museum of Fashion and Costume (Museo della Moda e del Costume) occupies the south wing. This building was built by the architect Gaspero Maria Paoletti in 1776 and finished by Pasquale Poccianti in 1830.
The variety and splendor of royal and contemporary garments on display here is astounding. The museum occupies 13 halls and is dedicated to the history of fashion from the 18th century to the present day.
Imperial and Royal apartments
The Imperial and Royal apartments are located in 14 rooms on the right wing.
You can admire the splendid furniture of the Medici period, richly decorated tables, mirrors, silk tapestries and splendid chandeliers.
The following rooms are especially notable:
- The Green Salon (Salone Verde),
- The Throne Room (Sala del Trono),
- The Hall of the Chamberlains (Sala dei ciambellani),
- Sala d’udienza de’ Medici.
How to get to Palazzo Pitti
The palace is located at the foot of the Boboli hill on the left bank of the Arno River. The exact address is Piazza de’ Pitti, 1. It’s in the center of the city – you’ll easily find the attraction.
Hours of operation
Palazzo Pitti can be visited:
- 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (the box office is open until 5:30 p.m.);
- closed on Mondays.
Also not open on December 25 and January 1.
As of 2022, a ticket to the palace costs:
- 10 Euro for adults;
- Free for children under 18 years.
The price includes a visit to the Palatine Gallery, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, and the Gallery of Modern Art.
You can buy your ticket in advance on the official website for which there is an additional fee of 3 Euros. You can then reserve your visit for a specific day and time and reduce your waiting time in line.
After online booking you will receive a confirmation letter. Then you have to show the printed confirmation letter or show it on your smartphone at the museum ticket office and you will be given the entrance tickets.
If you plan to visit the Uffizi Gallery and Boboli Gardens in addition to the palace, you can buy a combined ticket for 18 euros. It is valid for five days.
Check the schedule and prices on the official website of Palazzo Pitti at www.uffizi.it/palazzo-pitti.
Excursions at Palazzo Pitti
View the famous galleries and interiors of the Pitti Palace with an experienced guide, who will explain the history of their creation and show the main exhibits. In the format of a group or individual excursion the palace will be as rich and informative as possible!
See all tours and choose the most intriguing on Tripster.
Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Italy
Palazzo Pitti (or Palazzo Pitti) is one of Florence’s main palaces. Its combination of grandeur, history, and museum collections have made it one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
Add to that the 450,000 m 2 of intimate gardens that terraces up the hill behind the palace, and you can see why so many tourists come here every year.
The first thing that catches your eye is the palazzo’s impressive 204-meter facade.
The facade of Palazzo Pitti And this is what Palazzo Pitti looks like from outside the Boboli Gardens
The Palatine Art Gallery, which is located in the Palazzo Pitti, is one of the most important in the world. It displays paintings by Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto and Rubens. Its collections can compete with the exhibitions of the Uffizi.
In addition, the palace also has the Gallery of Modern Art and the Imperial Apartments.
The noble and wealthy Florentine merchants of the Pitti dynasty were as important and ambitious as the Medicis themselves. This can be clearly seen in the magnificent palace they began to build in 1457. But Pitti’s fortune proved more modest than their requests. As a result, a hundred years later the Medici bought the palace from the bankrupt Pitti family.
The Medici restored and expanded the palace. Decorated its rooms with paintings, which later became the basis of the Palatine Gallery.
Pitti Palace from 1864 to 1871 was the residence of the Italian rulers when Florence was the capital of the partly united Italy. In 1919 King Victor Emmanuel III finally gave the palace to the city. It has since become a museum.
The Boboli Gardens rise on graceful terraces behind the palace. For tourists who are tired of the art and palace interiors, wandering through the refreshing green garden is a great activity. The gardens can be visited separately from the palace galleries.
The paintings of the Palatine Gallery are not arranged in chronological order, but as part of the decoration of the palace halls. The rooms here are named after the theme of the paintings or after the names of the artists.
The Hall of Venus
In the center of this room there is a sculpture of Venus, which was made for Napoleon in 1810 by the Italian master Antonio Canova. There are four paintings by Titian, works by Tintoretto, and two paintings by Rubens, Return from the Hayfields and Ulysses on the Isle of Faeces.
Among the works of the 16th and 17th centuries, Titian’s Maria Magdalena, painted for the Duke of Urbino between 1530 and 1535, and his Portrait of a Nobleman stand out.
Here you will find a painted ceiling with the war theme by Pietro da Cortona, with the coat of arms of the Medici in the center. On the same theme is Rubens’ monumental painting “The Consequences of War”. It shows Venus begging Mars not to go to war.
There is also a painting of the Four Philosophers. Notably, at the top left is a self-portrait of Pietro da Cortona himself.
There is also a portrait of Alvise Cornaro by Tintoretto, a portrait of Cardinal Ippolito de Medici by Titian, and a portrait of Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio by van Dyck.
The Jove Hall.
This room used to be the throne room. The principal work here is La Velata, one of Raphael’s finest portraits of women, painted about 1516. The ceiling was painted by Pietro da Cortona.
Hall of Saturn.
Here you will see some more of Raphael’s work. They are the portrait of Ezekiel and the Madonna with a canopy, as well as paintings by his contemporaries, Perugino, Fra Bartolomeo, Andrea del Sarto and Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
The Room of the Iliad
Unlike the previous rooms, which display works from the 17th century, the Iliad Room features paintings from the period 1819 to 1825. The ceiling depicts Olympus and scenes from Homer’s Iliad painted by Luigi Sabatelli.
This small room is decorated in the early 17th century on the theme of the four ages: the golden, the silver, the copper and the iron.
The ceiling in this room shows the return of Odysseus to his homeland. The most important work here is the Madonna del Impannata by Raphael (painted around 1512).
The Prometheus Room
The works in this room date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Artists such as Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Guido Reni are represented here.
Hall of Justice (or Justice)
Works by artists of the 16th-century Venetian school are on display here.
The frescoes in this small gallery are by the Florentine artist Pochetti.
Named after the painter Giuseppe Castagnoli, who painted the ceiling here in 1815. The room contains two huge marble statues from the Villa Medici in Rome.
These few rooms were the winter apartments of the Medici. The first room is the only one where the decor dates from the Medici period. The others were furnished after 1815. These rooms are not always accessible to the public.
Gallery of Modern Art
The Gallery of Modern Art is located on the second floor of the Pitti Palace. It presents a large selection of 19th- and early 20th-century paintings by Tuscan and other Italian masters, as well as beautiful sculptures of the same period.
A separate section is devoted to the works of Tuscan artists of the Macchiaioli school with works by Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega and Telemacu Signorini. Another section presents contemporary Italian artists.
The works here are arranged in chronological order from neoclassicism to the 1920s, allowing you to trace different schools and art movements.
Museum of Silver
The rooms on the first floor and the mezzanine, where the Medici spent the summer months, house the Silver Museum. It contains not only the work of silversmiths and goldsmiths, but also precious stones, jewelry, painted glass and porcelain.
The core of the collection is the silverware that once belonged to the Medici family. Also on display are pieces from the Uffizi Gallery, the Bargello Museum and treasures from the archbishops of Salzburg and the kings of Italy.
Note the 17th- and 18th-century jewelry boxes, 16th- and 17th-century vases and crystal, carved ivory and amber, and the Medici jewelry collection.
A decorative cabinet from 1709 is a striking example of Baroque furniture.
Museum of Costume and Fashion
At the end of the Boboli Gardens in the 18th-century Palazzina della Meridiana is the Museum of Costume and Fashion. It used to be called the Costume Gallery.
It is the only museum in Italy dedicated to the history of fashion. In addition, it is one of the world’s leading fashion museums. There are about 6,000 pieces of clothing and fashion accessories. You can trace the history of fashion and clothing from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Some of the pieces in this museum have been used in filmmaking. Perhaps the rarest in this exhibit is the clothes worn by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his family in the 1500s.
The pink building of the Casino del Cavaliere museum was built in the 17th century. It sits on top of a hill overlooking the Boboli Gardens and has a rich collection of porcelain. It is mainly tableware, most of which belonged to various ruling families of Tuscany, including the Medici and Savoy.
There are pieces from the Royal manufactory of Naples and the nearby town of Doxia, as well as works from the French porcelain factory of Sèvres and 17th-century works from Meissen in Saxony.
The famous Boboli Gardens were laid out here between 1550 and 1560. For about a hundred years afterwards, however, they were perfected to perfection.
Perched on terraces, the gardens are some of the finest classical parks in Europe. This place is worth visiting not only for aesthetic pleasure, but also to contemplate the incredibly beautiful view of Florence. The best place for this is the terrace of the Kaffeehaus Café.
The Kaffeehaus Café is located on the eastern edge of the garden, and its terrace overlooks Florence. Not far from the cafe you will find the Neptune Fountain by Stoldo Lorenzi. The fountain was built in 1565. It depicts Neptune standing on a rock, surrounded by tritons and sirens.
Boboli Gardens is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence. They are visited by about a million people every year.
The gardens are filled with sculptures and fountains, which you’ll see as you stroll along its winding paths and promenades.
In the far corner on the left is the Grotto of Buontalenti.
It’s a man-made cave, decorated in Mannerist style, with artificial stalactites and stalagmites. Look at them closely and you will see that they are sheep and shepherds.
Here you can see that the bas-reliefs are stylized to look like stalactites.
In the corners of the grotto are copies of Michelangelo’s Slaves, the originals of which are now in the Academy Gallery.
There is even an amphitheater in the garden (no, not the Colosseum). This amphitheater was built on the site of the quarry from which the stones were taken to build the Pitti Palace in the past.
Address: Piazza Pitti 1, Florence For more information, visit the official website of Palazzo Pitti.