Discover the Opulent Palazzo Pitti Florence
Florence is credited to be the birthplace of the Renaissance and every part of this romantic and enhancing city is seeped in world-class art. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence are the Palazzo Pitti and Palatine Gallery and for all the right reasons. First commissioned by banker Luca Pitti in the 15th century, the Pitti Palace Florence was later purchased by the Medicis for use as a residence and their personal treasure house. At present, the Palazzo Palace features four museums namely, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes on the ground floor, the Imperial and Royal Apartments and the Palatine Gallery on the 1st floor, and the Museum of Costume and Fashion and the Gallery of Modern Art on the 2nd floor.
Palazzo Pitti: Highlights
1. Boasting prominent Renaissance influences, the Palazzo Pitti was built in 1458 overlooking the River Arno and was initially the township of the famous Florence Banker, Luca Pitti.
2. Officially Florence’s largest museum complex, the Palazzo Pitti is spread around an area of 32,000 sq. mt., which are segregated into many museums and galleries.
3. During your visit to Palazzo Pitti, you’ll get to witness some of the greatest works of art in Italy. The various galleries are home to over 500 pieces of 17th-century European art on display in beautiful private rooms.
4. Some of the unmissable masterpieces at the palace include portraits by Botticelli, works by Fra Bartolomeo, Piero del Pollaiolo, Bronzino, Filippo Lippi and the iconic 1514 Madonna and Child by Raphael.
Palazzo Pitti History
While Palazzo Pitti was commissioned by banker Luca Pitti in 1458, it was acquired by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleanor of Toledo as the new Grand Ducal residence in 1550. With this change in ownership, the palace quickly became the symbol of the Medici’s power over Tuscany. In its long past, the palace has also housed the Court of two dynasties: the House of Habsburg-Lorraine and the Kings of Italy from the House of Savoy, who called the palace home starting from 1865. Despite being passed around quite a lot, the Palazzo Pitti still bears the name of its first owner, Luca Pitti.
Apart from the constant shift of ownership, the fabled history of the Palazzo Pitti features a blend of fact and myth. Pitti, the first owner, is believed to have demanded that the windows of the Palazzo Medici be larger than the entrance. The architect of the palace disregarded most of the design and fashion conventions prevalent during the time and inadvertently gave the Palazzo Pitti a relatively severe and imposing atmosphere.
Palazzo Pitti Architecture
Palazzo Pitti is unlike any other museum in the world and is primarily built with massive, rustic stone blocks, creating a look partially inspired by ancient Etruscan walls and giving the palace a stern and foreboding appearance.
To reinforce the power of the palace, 7 arch-headed apertures were repeated three times over, akin to a Roman aqueduct.
This striking design has withstood the test of time and the facade formula of repetition was maintained during future additions to the palazzo.
The architecture also influenced many 16th-century imitations and 19th-century revivals. At its core, the palace architecture features a similar technique as other Florentine palaces with big stones at the base and more refined stones at the top.
What to do at Palazzo Pitti
Located in the left wing, the Palatine Gallery holds the honor of being the main gallery of the Palazzo Pitti. The Gallery is home to a delightful collection of over 500 principally Renaissance paintings that were part of the Medici family’s private collections. Some of the iconic artists featured in the collection of paintings include Pietro de Cortona, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Raphel, and Corregio.
A suite of 14 rooms in total where the Medici family lived, the Royal Apartments make for a fascinating visit. The apartments have been furnished from the Medici era which was as late as the 19th century. From beautiful collectibles and many varieties of antique furniture like the 4 poster beds, there’s much to be seen here. The apartments also housed Medici portraits created by Giusto Sustermans.
Also known as the Silver Museum, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes features rooms that were originally used as the Medici family’s summer apartments. The gallery is also home to the Medici’s Treasure, a collection of semi-precious stone vases, ambers, ivories, and rock crystals. One entire section of the museum is dedicated to showcasing contemporary jewelry along with collections from the 17th and 19th century.
Originating from the remodel of 1748 Florentine academy, the Gallery of Modern Art features a fabulous collection of paintings and sculptures from the 19th century and the 20th century. While there are numerous historical paintings in the gallery, amongst the most iconic are the famous landscapes of the Maremma area by Giovanni Fattori, considered amongst the most important artists of the Macchiaioli movement.
Formerly known as the Costume Gallery, the Museum of Costume and Fashion is located in the Palazzina della Meridiana adjacent to the Pitti Palace’s southern wing. Work on the museum began under Grand Duke of Tuscany Peter Leopold in 1776 and was completed much later in 1830 by Pasquale Poccianti under Grand Duke Leopold II. The museum building is named after the astronomical instrument created by Vincenzo Viviani in 1699. The instrument can be seen in the vestibule of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici’s apartment.
Palazzo Pitti Florence: FAQs
Yes, Palazzo Pitti is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 1:30 PM - 6:30 PM.
Yes, the former Renaissance residence, Palazzo Pitti is now home to Florence's most extensive grouping of museums, making it worth a visit.
Construction work on the Palazzo Pitti started in 1458, making it almost 600 years old.
Palazzo Pitti is a large complex of iconic and must-visit museums and galleries that are home to important collections of paintings, sculpture and pieces of art. Apart from visiting the museums, you can also stroll around the beautiful Boboli Gardens and admire its wonderful Italian style.