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 point is 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 Medicis
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 remained 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 was 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 impregnable. 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 wanted 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 get 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.
Italy’s museum pride: Palazzo Pitti
The word “palazzo” translates from Italian as “palace,” “mansion.” Etymology provides another variant of origin: from the Latin “palatium” (palace). It also echoes the name of one of the seven Roman hills, the Palatine Hill, where magnificent palaces were originally built for the emperors.
Palazzo palaces can be found in any of the Italian cities – a celebration of luxury and aristocratism. One of these palaces is the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the residence of Florentine rulers.
History of the palazzo in Florence
The story of Palazzo Pitti is quite interesting, and there’s more fiction and rumor than fact and documentation.
When Duke Cosimo de Medici, nicknamed the Old Man, came to power he was instructed by his father not to flaunt his greatness and wealth, so as not to irritate the masses. That is why Medici rejected a lavish project Filippo Brunelleschi in favor of a more modest project architect Michelozzo – inside his palace was decorated with all conceivable luxury and wealth, but outwardly all decency has been observed.
But Brunelleschi’s project did not go to waste – it drew the attention of the richest banker Luca Pitti. His business was going well, he was the door to many famous and wealthy homes of Florence. And then one day he had the idea to build a palace, which in size and splendor would exceed the palazzo of the Duke of Tuscany – Cosimo de Medici (the Old).
The Palazzo Pitti was supposedly designed by the architect Filippo Brunelleschi and assisted by Luca Franceschi, who at that time was Brunelleschi’s pupil. But experts on the history of architecture in recent years agree that the author of the project was just Luca Franceschi, who used the practices and technology of his teacher, Filippo Brunelleschi. This version is supported by the fact that Brunelleschi was no longer alive when construction began on Pitti.
Construction began in 1458 . Luca Pitti’s plans for the building were rather grandiose: he wanted the windows to be taller than those of the Medici palace, and the garden to be much larger than the entire Medici Riccardi palazzo.
But construction did not proceed as quickly as the owner wanted. Despite the fact that even convicts and fugitive criminals were not shy about getting involved in the construction (in order for the palace to be built as quickly as possible), financial difficulties became a significant obstacle to the triumph of Pitti’s banker.
The paradox is that the Palazzo Pitti did end up being owned by the Medici family. This happened after the death of Luca Pitti himself (1472), who did not live to see the completion of his palace (1487). The new owner, or rather owner, was Cosimo de’ Medici’s wife, Eleonora Toledo, who in 1549 bought the palazzo from Bonacossero Pitti, the banker’s banker descendant who had gone bankrupt.
Before moving with his large family into the new palazzo, the Duke of Tuscany ordered the palazzo to be extended with additions, adding two side wings to the building, which almost doubled its area. The palazzo was redesigned by the architect Ammannati and the master Giorgio Vasari, who additionally built the Vasari Corridor, a covered passage from the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) to the Pitti Palace.
At first the house was used to house foreign ambassadors and distinguished guests, but under Ferdinand I, the Medici family finally moved into the former Pitti banker’s house.
Behind the Pitti square and the palace, land on the Boboli hill was bought – there, under the direction of garden designer Niccolò Tribolo, grandiose work began on the creation of the park complex – Boboli Gardens.
In 1737 the Medici family broke away, and power passed to members of another family, the Dukes of Lorraine. After them Palazzo Pitti became a home for both the Bourbons and the Habsburg dynasty. During the Italian National Liberation Movement (Risorgimento) Florence became for a time the capital of the state and King Victor-Emmanuel III chose Palazzo Pitti as the royal residence.
In 1919 the Italian authorities declared the palace a municipal property.
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Description of the site
Palazzo Pitti is a gloomy three-story building finished in rusticated stone (one side of the stone is smooth, while the rest is rough and rugged). The cladding gives away the ambition of Luca Pitti, who sought to equate himself with those in power. At that time, only palaces belonging to the dukes were finished with rustic stone (the first use of rustication was during the construction of the ducal palace, known today as the Palazzo Medici Riccardi).
Palazzo Pitti is 205 meters long and 38 meters high. The building is the largest in the whole of Florence.
Feature of the architecture of the building lies in the clear division over three floors. In contrast to the palaces of the time and trends of architectural fashion, Palazzo Pitti almost has no external decoration – from the decorations can be noted only stone lion heads with crowns on the tiers of the ground floor.
Behind Palazzo Pitti are the Boboli Gardens, a famous park ensemble recognized as the best not only in Florence, but in all of Italy. Its area is about 45 thousand square meters and it extends all the way to the Belvedere Fortress. The gardens are open to the public since 1766.
The territory of the garden is well-groomed park areas, paths, lawns, fountains and sculptures. Part of the gardens is occupied by a small amphitheater – small outdoor theatrical productions were held here.
What it looks like today, photo
Currently, Palazzo Pitti is not only an outstanding landmark of Florence, but also the largest museum and historical and architectural complex, which has valuable collections of works of Italian art.
The museum complex combines large galleries and themed halls.
- Museum of Silver . It has a collection of silverware – jewelry, household items (cutlery, accessories). In addition to silver jewelry in the museum you can see collections of gold, ivory, precious and semiprecious stones, as well as a collection of vases, which began as Lorenzo de Medici (The Magnificent).
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Ticket prices, opening hours
When visiting museums, tickets can be purchased either to an individual museum or to visit the entire museum complex.
Tickets to the museums cost 16 euros: Palatine Gallery + Gallery of Modern Art + Treasury of the Grand Dukes + Museum of Fashion and Costume + Imperial and Royal apartments.
Lovers of wandering through the halls of museums and exhibitions is recommended to buy a tourist card Florence (Firenze Card). Its cost is considerable – 70 euros, but it is considered a single museum card, which gives the right to visit all museums, galleries and palaces in Florence.
All museums Palazzo Pitti open at the same time – at 8.15 am. But the museums of silver, porcelain and costumes close a little earlier – at 16.30, while the Palatine Gallery is open to visitors until 19.00 (the beginning of closing – at 18.50).
There are days when museums do not work at all. These are national holidays, as well as New Year’s Day (January 1), Christmas Day (December 25) and Easter holiday. Museums are also closed on Mondays of each month.
Photos inside the palace are not allowed. Some tourists do take a few pictures at your own risk, but keep in mind that for this you can get a hefty fine.
Want to see the famous Palazzo Pitti with your own eyes and look inside the museum complex? Check out this video:
Where to go, how to get there
The address of the site is Piazza de’ Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze.
Located on the right side of the River Arno, Palazzo Pitti crosses over the Ponte Vecchio from Piazza della Signoria to reach Piazza Pitti, where the Medici family’s famous house is located.