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Palazzo Pitti, translated as the Pitti Palace, is an incredibly grand building in Florence, Italy originally built in 1457 for Luca Pitti. Determined not to be outdone by the ruling Medici family, Pitti, who was an affluent banker, wanted to ensure that his home was as large and impressive as possible. The result was the Palazzo Pitti.
Unfortunately for Pitti’s heirs, the task of trying to surpass the Medici proved too dear and in 1549 they were eventually left with no option but to sell Palazzo Pitti to none other than the Medici themselves. It went on to become not only the prime residence of the Medici, but also that of every ruling Florentine family thereon.
Today, Palazzo Pitti houses a number of museums including the ornately frescoed seventeenth century Royal Apartments, the Porcelain Museum, Silver Museum and Museum of Modern Art. However the main feature of Palazzo Pitti is the Palatine Gallery. This famous art museum contains works by many of the world’s most famous artists, such as Raphael and Caravaggio.
Palazzo Pitti forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Historic Florence. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.
1. It’s located near the historic center of Florence
The city of Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region in central Italy. The Pitti Palace is one of the most prominent landmarks in a city filled with historic buildings and which is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance.
The palace is located in the southern part of the city on the opposite bank of the River Arno and right across the historic center of Florence. The center of the city can be reached by crossing the nearby Ponte Vecchio, one of the most famous bridges in the world which gives access to the Palazzo Vecchio as well.
One of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the Florence Cathedral with its marvelous dome, is just a short distance to the north of the Ponte Vecchio as well. Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, and Florence Cathedral / Wiki Commons / Sailko
The construction of this severe, almost forbidding, building was commissioned in 1458 by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, a principal supporter and friend of Cosimo de' Medici. The early history of the Palazzo Pitti is a mixture of fact and myth. Pitti wanted to build, it was said, a large palazzo which would outshine the Palazzo Medici. It is claimed that he specifically instructed that the windows should be larger than the entrance of the Palazzo Medici. It has been said by no less a person than Vasari that Brunelleschi was the palazzo's architect, and that his pupil Luca Fancelli was simply his assistant in the task - today it is Fancelli that is generally credited. Besides obvious differences from the elder architect's style, Brunelleschi died 12 years before construction of the palazzo began. The design and fenestration suggest that the unknown architect was more experienced in utilitarian domestic architecture than in the humanist rules defined by Alberti in his book De Re Aedificatoria.
The original palazzo, though impressive, would have been no rival to the magnificence of the Florentine Medici residences in terms of either size or content. Whoever the architect of the Palazzo Pitti was, he was moving against the contemporary flow of fashion. The rusticated stonework gives the palazzo a severe and powerful atmosphere, reinforced by the three times repeated series of seven arch-headed apertures, reminiscent of a Roman aqueduct. The Roman-style architecture appealed to the Florentine love of the new style all'antica. This original design has withstood the test of time, and its influence has been maintained and continued during the subsequent additions to the palazzo. Work stopped after Pitti suffered financial reverses following the death of Cosimo de' Medici in 1464. Luca Pitti died in 1472 with the building uncompleted.
The building was sold in 1549 by Buonaccorso Pitti, a descendant of Luca Pitti, to Eleonora di Toledo. Raised at the luxurious court of Naples, Eleonora was the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici of Tuscany, now the Grand Duke. On moving into the palace, Cosimo had Vasari enlarge the structure to fit his tastes the palace was more than doubled by the addition of a new block onto the rear. Vasari also built an above-ground walkway from Cosimo's old palace, the Palazzo Vecchio, through the Uffizi, above the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti.
Land on the hill called Boboli at the rear of the palazzo was acquired in order to create a large formal park, the Boboli Gardens. The landscape architect employed for this was the Medici court artist Niccolo Tribolo, who died the following year he was quickly succeeded by Bartolommeo Ammanati. The original design of the gardens centred on an amphitheatre, behind the corps de logis of the palazzo, in which the classically-inspired plays of Florentine playwrights such as Giovan Battista Cini were performed for the amusement of the cultivated Medici court, with elaborate sets designed by the court architect Baldassarre Lanci.
With the garden project well in hand, Ammanati turned his attentions to creating a large courtyard immediately behind the principal facade, to link the palazzo to its new garden. This courtyard has heavy-banded channelled rustication that has been widely copied, notably for the Parisian palais of Maria de' Medici, the Luxembourg. Ammanati also created the finestre inginocchiate("kneeling" windows, in reference to their imagined resemblance to a prie-dieu, a device of Michelangelo's) in the principal facade, replacing the entrance bays at each end. During the years 1558-70, Ammanati created a monumental staircase to lead with more pomp to the piano nobile, and he extended the wings on the garden front that embraced a courtyard excavated into the steeply sloping hillside at the same level as the piazza in front, from which it was visible through the central arch of the basement. On the garden side of the courtyard Amannati constructed a grotto, called the "grotto of Moses" for the porphyry statue that inhabits it. On the terrace above it, level with the piano nobile windows, Ammanati constructed a fountain centered on the axis it was later replaced by the Fontana del Carciofo ("Fountain of the Artichoke"), designed by Giambologna's former assistant, Francesco Susini, and completed in 1641.
In 1616 a competition was opened to design extensions to the principal urban facade by three bays at either end. Giulio Parigi won the commission work on the north side began in 1618, and on the south side in 1631 by Alfonso Parigi. During the 18th century, two perpendicular wings were constructed by the architect Giuseppe Ruggeri to enhance and stress the widening of via Romana, which creates a piazza centered on the façade, the prototype of the cour d'honneur that was copied in France. Sporadic lesser additions and alterations were made for many years thereafter under other rulers and architects.
Houses of Lorraine and Savoy
The palazzo remained the principal Medici residence until the last male Medici heir died in 1737, whereupon it passed to the new Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Austrian House of Lorraine, in the person of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. The Austrian tenancy was briefly interrupted by Napoleon, who used the Pitti during his period of control over Italy.
When Tuscany passed from the House of Lorraine to the House of Savoy in 1860, the Palazzo Pitti was included. After the Risorgimento, when Florence was briefly the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II resided in the Pitti until 1871. His grandson, Vittorio Emanuele III, presented the Pitti to the nation in 1919. The palazzo and other buildings in the Boboli Gardens then became divided into five separate art galleries and a museum, housing not only many of its original contents, but priceless artifacts from many other collections acquired by the state. The 140 rooms open to the public are part of an interior, which is in large part a later product than the original portion of the structure, mostly created in two phases, one in the 17th century and the other in the early 18th century. Some earlier interiors remain, and there are still later additions such as the Throne Room. In 2005 the surprise discovery of forgotten 18th-century bathrooms in the palazzo revealed remarkable examples of contemporary plumbing very similar in style to the bathrooms of the 21st century.
The Palatine Gallery is the main gallery is the Palazzo Pitti. It occupies the entire left wing of the first floor and used to be the residence of the Medici grand dukes. After Tuscany had come under the rule of the Lorraine family in 1828, all important paintings were placed in the gallery, which was then opened to the public. Now, there are more than 500 mostly Renaissance paintings to be seen there, all of which were part of the vast collection of the Medicis and their successors. Artists whose work is displayed in the Palatine Gallery include Raphael, Rubens Titian, Correggio, Caravaggio van Dyck, and Pietro da Cortona, as well as other European and Italian masters. The gallery's most splendid rooms were decorated by da Cortona in a high Baroque style. His magnificently detailed frescoes and stuccoes are an absolute highlight.
The Palatine Gallery overflows into the Royal Apartments. These apartments are made up of fourteen rooms, the former living and work rooms of the Medici family and later the Lorraine family and the Kings of Italy. The rooms, however, have been changed since the Medicis last occupied them. The most recent renovation took place in the 19th century. The rooms are smaller and more intimate than the ones in the Palatine Gallery and house a collection of Medici portraits. They are decorated and furnished to suit every-day living. The apartments were last used by the Kings of Italy in the 1920s, at a time when most of the rooms had already been transformed into a museum. Until then, a series of rooms, now comprising the Gallery of Modern Art, was reserved for the royal family in case they visited Florence.
Gallery of Modern Art
Located on the second floor, the Gallery of Modern Art in its current state dates from 1924. The gallery was founded in 1914 and originally contained works from the Academy of Fine Arts. Nowadays, the collection takes up no less than thirty rooms and is organized in a chronological order, starting at Peter Leopold’s time and ending at the First World War. Works created after the war are regarded as contemporary in Italy and are housed in another museum.
The Costume Gallery is located in an 18th-century wing that overlooks the Boboli Gardens, known as the Palazzina della Meridiana. This gallery contains about 6,000 costumes, theater outfits, costumes, jewelry and accessories dating from the 16th up to the 20th centuries. It is Italy’s only museum that features the history of fashion and one of the most important of its kind in the entire world.
Boboli Gardens - Palazzo Pitti. Photo by xiquinhosilva
The Silver Museum, also known as the Museo degli Argenti and the Medici Treasury, showcases a phenomenally rich collection of precious objects and jewelry that was collected by members of the Medici family. The stately rooms, beautifully decorated with frescoes by Giovanni da San Giovanni , houses crystal vases, ivory, gems, silverware, carpets, jewels, cameos and so on.
The Porcelain Museum used to be part of the Silver Museum, but is now housed in the Casino del Cavaliere in the Boboli Gardens. Its collections consist mainly of porcelain tableware that was used by the Medici grand dukes and the Houses of Lorraine and Savoy. Many pieces of the collection were especially made for the Florentine rulers and/or were gifts from other European houses and monarchies.
The magnificent Boboli Gardens are the largest green area in Florence. It is filled with hedge-lined walkways, sculptures, statues, grottoes – the grotto by Michelangelo is a real highlight –, ponds, fountains, an amphitheater and an Egyptian obelisk. It was one of the very first landscaped Italian Renaissance gardens and was the model of many a royal garden in Europe.
Palazzo Pitti. Photo by Kriisi
Pitti Palace, Florence
The Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), one of the best art museums in Europe, is a former residence of the King of Italy. Today it houses many different types of art, including several important collections of paintings, sculpture, porcelain and historical costumes, and is renowned for its beautiful Renaissance art and chitecture. It is situated in an historical part of Florence and the grounds extend to the Boboli Gardens, which in itself is famous for its grottoes, statues and fountains. The Palace is located south of the River Arno, a short walk from Ponte Vecchio. The main part of the building dates from 1458 when it was originally occupied by a local Florentine banker. It was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of Tuscany's ruling families for centuries. As the building was added to, so were its collections of fine art, and decorative art. In the 18th century it was used a powerbase by Napoleon and briefly served as a residence for the Royal family of a newly united Italy. In 1919 the palace and its contents were donated to the people of Italy by King Victor Emmanuel III. It is one of Florence's largest art galleries.
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The Palazzo Pitti houses the following art galleries:
Palatine Gallery (Galleria Palatina)
The Palatine Gallery occupies the West Wing of the first floor of the Palace. It was the former residence of the Medici Grand Duke's family. Their collection of art was first opened to the public in 1828 by Grand Duke Leopold, who was keen to retain popularity after the demise of the Medici family. The gallery houses over 500 paintings, principally originating from the High Renaissance era. There are works by Titian (1488/90), Correggio (1489-1534), Parmigianino (1503-40), Caravaggio (1573-1610), and Raphael (1483-1520). Later, other European Masters and paintings from the Baroque period were added to the collection. The paintings are hung as they were intended, as decorative pieces in sumptuously richly decorated rooms, rather than in typical museum fashion according to art school or chronological date. The finest rooms in the wing were decorated with fresco paintings and ornate stucco work by the great Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669), in a high Baroque style. His pupil Ciro Ferri (1634-89) completed the work in the 1660s. The so-called 'Planet Rooms' which were decorated with images based on Ptolomeic cosmology, inspired Le Brun's (1619-90) Planet Rooms at the magnificent Palace of Versailles, home of the royal court of King Louis XIV.
Highlights of the Palatine Collection
- Lamentation over the Dead Christ (1495) by Perugino (1446/50).
- Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals (1518) by Raphael.
- Madonna with the Long Neck (1535) by Parmigianino.
- Mary Magdalene (c.1531) by Titian.
- The Sleeping Cupid (1608) by Caravaggio.
- Philip IV of Spain on Horseback (1635) by Velazquez.
Gallery Of Modern Art
Situated on the second floor of the Pitti Palace is the Gallery of Modern Art which contains paintings and sculpture dating from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. The rooms themselves are decorated in a neo-classical and romantic style. Of particular note are paintings by members of the Macchiaioli movement (including works by Giovanni Fattori), a group of Italian painters active in Tuscany in the second part of the 19th century. The artists broke with conventions to paint outdoors and their ideas were to influence the French Impressionists who came a few years later.
The museum contains a grand collection of European table porcelain which was collected by the Grand Dukes and Royal Houses of the Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families. Many pieces in the collection were gifts from other European heads of states.
The Costume Gallery is situated in the Palazzina della Meridiana, a wing added to the Pitti Palace in the 18th century, and which overlooks the Bobli Gardens. The gallery houses over 6,000 items dating from the 1500s to the 1900s, including theatrical costumes and jewellery. It is the most important historical fashion museum in the world providing an inspirational insight for any would-be fashion designer today. A selection of the collection is exhibited and rotated every two years, although there are additional exhibitions.
The Medici Treasury (Museo degli Argenti)
Located on the ground floor of the Pitti Palace, also known as the Summer Apartments, this museum houses valuable decorative arts and jewellery. Granduke Ferdinando I decorated this wing of the Palace in 1635 to celebrate his wedding to Vittoria della Rovere. Here, visitors can view the precious stone vases of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the ambers of Maria Maddalena of Austria, the ivory vases of Mattia de Medici, the cameos (small miniature portraits) of Cosimo I, and the famous jewellery collection of Anna Maria Luisa (the last member of the Medici family). The museum also houses jewels created between the 17th and 20th century by important European and Italian workshops. Recently a new section was opened which is devoted entirely to contemporary works.
Piazza Pitti 1
For details of more galleries in Italy, see: Best Art Museums.
For more details about the world's great galleries, see: Homepage.
If you’re an art enthusiast or you’re trying to pin down some of the famous places in Italy, Palazzo Pitti or Pitti Palace is definitely worth visiting. It is, after all, the largest museum complex in Florence.
The Pitti Palace is located south of the Arno River and a five-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio. It is the former residence of the Medici Family. Before the Medici’s bought the palace, Luca Pitti, who is described as an ambitious Florentine banker, owned it. The ordinary façade of the palace might fool you at first, but when you get inside the complex all your first impression will definitely be erased. Inside the palace you can view the Royal Apartment complex. During the rule of the Medici’s the palace functioned as a guesthouse for different royal families.
The Royal Apartment is composed of 14 rooms, all lavishly decorated fit for the guests and contains portraits of the Medici’s. Other than the Royal Apartment, you could also visit the Palatine Gallery, home to more than 500 Renaissance art works of Europe’s greatest painters. Famous among the collection is Raphael’s La Donna Velata or “Woman with a Veil.” You will see works of art by Boticelli, Reubens, Lerreggio and Pietro da Cortona. Other parts of the Palace are the Gallery of Modern Arts, which opened in 1928 the Silver Museum Costume Museum, which showcases the evolution of Florentine fashion and the Porcelain Museum.
After visiting the museums, you might want to take a break and take in everything that you saw in the palace. If that’s the case the Boboli Gardens is a perfect place then. Situated right behind the Pitti Palace, it is an Italian formal garden dating back from the 16th century. It is adorned with grottos, pools, fountains and corridors of clipped hedging. The Boboli garden is also one of the famous places in Italy because of the beautiful statues located all through out the garden. You can even spot some works by the famous Michelangelo.
So don’t forget to bring your camera and enough batteries if you’re going to visit the Pitti Palace! It will definitely be a humbling experience to stand before the creation of great Florentine artists.
Palazzo Pitti - History
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Florence has a long tradition as far as fashion is concerned and it can be considered as one of the most active cities in Italy and worldwide. The haute couture industry is very important here: we can safely say that Italian high fashion was born in Florence, at a parade organised on February 12, 1951, by the pioneer of Italian fashion Giovanni Battista Giorgini at Villa Torrigiani (then repeated in the White Room of Palazzo Pitti). On that occasion many international buyers were present and they discovered the elegance of Made in Italy, with much more competitive prices than Paris fashion.
The city boasts designers such as Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Patrizia Pepe, Emilio Pucci and many others. Their Florence-based fashion houses develop products that are famous all over the world. The major fashion boutiques are concentrated in the commercial district of luxury, along Via de' Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova and, in general, in the historical centre of Florence.
There are also many handicraft shops, especially those selling leather goods (many are located between Piazza Santa Croce and Borgo dei Greci), as well as the leather industry (15.2% of Italian companies operating in this sector are situated in Florence).
After the Second World War, some Italian entrepreneurs started to work hard to develop their fashion firms. In 1951, the Tuscan businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini organized the first Italian international runway show at Villa Torrigiani, in Florence. Until then, runways had been held at department stores, but Italian fashion had not yet gone beyond the national boundaries.
The runway of 1951, for the first time, welcomed a selected audience made up of foreign journalists and buyers from major American department stores. After this successful event from 1952 to 1982, the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti was the stage for fashion shows. Thanks to these first runways “Made in Italy” became a globally recognized brand and Florence an international landmark for Italian high fashion.
Since 1954, the Pitti Immagine company organizes international fashion events centered at Fortezza da Basso and Stazione Leopolda. Today, the city hosts four of the world’s most important platforms for fabrics, clothing and accessory collections: Pitti Uomo, Pitti Donna, Pitti Filati and Pitti Bimbo.
The picture above comes from the Archivio Storico Foto Locchi which is considered one of the world’s foremost collections of rare fashion photographs: it is home to upwards of 5 million photographs recounting the history of Florence and Tuscany from the 1930s to the present day.
The city has the only museum in Italy dedicated to fashion and its history: it is the Galleria del Costume and traces a detailed history of fashion through the years, with a collection of more than 6,000 artefacts, including antique clothing, accessories, theatre costumes, top film documentaries and many examples of prestigious Italian and foreign designers, thanks to the presence of leading samples by famous designers such as Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Emilio Pucci, Ottavio Missoni, Yves Saint Laurent and many others.
There is also the Salvatore Ferragamo museum in Palazzo Spini Ferroni in Via de’ Tornabuoni, with its collection of more than 10,000 shoes made by the fashion house, tokens of craftsmanship that show the fashion and styles in vogue in the previous century, as well as photographs, newspapers, sketches and wooden models of few celebrity feet!
In 2008 the museum added Museo Capucci, focusing on sculpture dresses designed by the great designer for the Venice Biennale in 1995.
Last but not list, you should check out the Gucci Museum, which is located next to Palazzo Vecchio (temporarily closed).
Other museums linked to more specific aspects are the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, the Museum of straw and straw braiding in Signa and the Silver Museum and Torrini Museum. Vintage clothes are in the Stibbert Museum.
Every year Florence hosts Pitti Immagine, an annual series of fashion events that are the most prestigious and important of their kind on the international scene like Pitti Immagine. Pitti Immagine consists of many events: Pitti Immagine Uomo, Pitti W-Woman Pre-collections, Pitti Immagine Bimbo, Pitti Immagine Filati, Pitti Immagine Fragrances, Pitti Immagine Casa, Pitti Immagine ModaPelle, and holds thousands of exhibitions, fashion shows and congresses by the most important Italian and foreign designers and VIPs, whose exhibition is by invitation only.
Special openings openings, galas, presentations, fashion shows, social events and exclusive parties are organized throughout the city and metropolitan area. The events are held in various locations in Florence, including the White Room of Palazzo Pitti, the Fortezza da Basso, Odeon Cinema, Piazza Santa Croce, Palagio di Parte Guelfa, the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, the Leopolda Station, Ponte Vecchio, as well as many clubs, nightclubs and stores and fashion boutiques.
In Florence there are many fashion schools such as:
There's also a fashion library: the Centro di documentazione Matteo Lanzoni di Polimoda.
In Tuscany there are many shopping outlets where you can buy discounted goods. Read this post for all the information: where they are, how to reach them and what they sell.
The Pitti Palace is one of Florence's historic landmark buildings and is where you can find the Boboli Gardens as well as several important museums:
- the Palatine Gallery
- the Modern Art Gallery
- the Royal Apartments
- the Costume Gallery
- the Porcelain Museum
- Silver Museum (aka the Medici Treasury)
Scroll down this page to read about each part of the Pitti Palace buildings.
Luca Pitti, a rich banker, had this regal palace built and lived there with his family from 1470 onwards.
The building was meant to look glorious from the start because the Pitti family were in competition with the powerful Medici and wanted their new home to be even more imposing than the Medici family palace.
The Pitti Palace is set far back from the pavement and has an enormous open square in front which makes it all the more noticeable and impressive.
T he Pitti fortunes didn’t last though, and, in a twist of fate, they ended up selling the palace to the very rivals they were competing against.
Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, bought the building in 1550.
Under the Medici the Pitti Palace was enlarged to nearly twice its size.
It became the most majestic palace in Florence, and still provokes that awe-inspiring feeling today when you cross the Ponte Vecchio and see the Pitti Palace on your left.
The Palace was lived in by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and was used by Napoleon when he was in Florence during his reign over Italy.
Pitti was also the home of King Vittorio Emanuelle II from 1865 – 1871 when Florence was the capital of Italy.
Leopold II, one of the last Grand Dukes of Tuscany, opened the Pitti Palace as a museum in 1833.
All of the valuable collectibles that the past owners had accumulated as well as the interior design of the rooms themselves became part of the museums which make up the building today.
Palatine Gallery in Pitti Palace
A ticket to the Palatine Gallery also gets you into the Museum of Modern Art and the Royal Apartments.
The Galleria Palatina is really a two-fold museum : The building itself and the art works it contains.
The past rulers of Florence used to live in the Pitti Palace and this can be seen in the ornate and sumptuous interior of the home, the elaborately frescoed ceilings, the fancy stucco work on the walls and trimmings, and the general splendor, pomp and opulence of everything in the building.
Then, there are the more than 500 works of art that make up the Palatine Gallery.
These are mostly Renaissance paintings but also sculptures, and Florentine mosaic pieces.
Like so many of the objects on display in the Pitti Palace, many pieces in this gallery come from the private art collections of the former owners of the building (the Medici and their successors).
For example, the Rubens painting below was painted for Ferdinando II de Medici and is one of the masterpieces on display.
The paintings are arranged in the gallery as if they were still in a private collection, as opposed to being organized as a museum display.
The idea is to present and hang the works similarly to how they would have been set up when the Grand Dukes were living in the Pitti Palace.
As a consequence, the pieces don't follow any chronological sequence and are not set up according to any painting style or period.
Although this way of showing the paintings works (you do get the feeling that you’re walking through a regal home decorated with countless paintings) it has pros and cons.
A good thing is that paintings aren’t roped off and kept at a distance so you can get up very close and appreciate the details of each piece (I'd never got so close to a Velazquez or Raffaello before).
On the con side, you might feel confused since there's so much to see and no logical order or guidelines to viewing it all.
Most paintings are of the Florentine school and the Baroque period dating from the 16th to 17th centuries.
You can see works by Raffaello (see Madonna con Seggiola, left), Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Botticelli, the Medici portrait painter Bronzino, Titian, Ghirlandaio, and many others.
There are also magnificent pieces by foreign greats such as the Spanish genius Velazquez, and the Flemish masters Rubens and Van Dyck.
A lot of the paintings have a religious theme whereas others are portraits of the Medici and other significant Florentine personalities.
Still other works depict Greek or Roman mythology or real-life battles.
Others simply represent life, such as Giorgione's 'Three Ages of Man' (right).
Undoubtedly the caliber of the painters that can be found at the Palatine Gallery and the wealth of art on display is impressive.
The sheer number of paintings makes your head spin and might even lead to a feeling of overload.
The walls are so full (paintings are lined up so high, they almost reach the ceiling) that you have to keep looking high up to see the art work.
This can be hard on the neck!
Each room has a handy card giving information about the works in the room.
This can really help you to appreciate the art work even more.
If you're the kind of person who wants to know about each piece in depth, be warned, this could literally take you all day.
The rooms of the gallery lead into the Pitti Palace Royal Apartments where the Grand Dukes of Tuscany lived and, later, the King of Italy.
The Royal Apartments in Pitti Palace
Where the Palatine Gallery ends, the Royal Apartments begin.
This part of the Pitti Palace could really be called a continuation of the Royal Apartments since all the rooms in the Galleria Palatina were also decorated for and used by the Grand Dukes and, later, the King.
The royal apartments have been influenced by three historical periods of the Pitti Palace: the Medici period (about 1550 – early 1700's), the Lorraine period (early 1700's to mid-1800's) and the Savoy period (1860 –1920).
The left wing of the Pitti Palace (where the Palatine Gallery is) was used by the Grand Duke, whereas the right wing (where these royal rooms are found) was where his son, the prince, lived.
Not as grand-looking (or as big) as the Palatine Gallery rooms, this part of the Pitti Palace shows the smaller more intimate rooms – which nevertheless are quite lavish and extravagant.
The royal bedrooms and related ‘private’ rooms are on display in this part of the palace.
The smaller-scale rooms together with the plush opulent décor are somehow easier to appreciate here than in the vast rooms of the Palatine Gallery.
The rooms tend to follow a color-scheme. There's the green room, the blue room, and so on.
This is a nice effect - for each color there's a varied palette of tones, all finished off in delicate gold trimming.
One noteworthy room is the Throne Room (right) with its plush deep burgundy velvet and ornate gilded trimmings designed for King Vittorio Emanuele II.
The king lived here for the brief time that Florence was the capital of Italy (1865 – 1871) and the Pitti Palace was truly a 'royal' residence.
One of the prettiest rooms is the Queen’s Commode (Toilette della Regina) with its pastel colored silk decor in rococo style.
This oval-shaped room was decorated under the Lorraine period.
You can also see lots of beautiful period furnishings such as four-poster beds, carved wood tables, and a 17th century ebony cabinet decorated with Florentine mosaics .
This piece is one of the few pieces remaining from the Medici period and belonged to Ferdinando II de Medici’s wife Vittoria della Rovere (1622 – 1694).
The apartments also contain an interesting collection of portraits of the Medici family by Giusto Suttermans, the Flemish painter.
The Modern Art Gallery in Pitti Palace
This museum is gorgeous. The contrast between the lavishly elaborate rooms in the Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments makes the simple elegance of the Modern Art Gallery even more noticeable.
The newly revamped gallery strikes you immediately as luminous and sophisticated in a minimalistic style.
Don’t be confused by the name ‘Modern Art Gallery’ though – there are no Picasso’s or Dali works here.
‘Modern’ is intended as a contrast to Renaissance art and doesn’t refer to 20th century artists.
This gallery has mostly works from the 1800’s with some pieces from the early 1900’s.
There are a couple of main themes in the museum.
One theme is the Italian Macchiaioli painting movement.
Macchiaioli painters were similar to the French impressionists (although the Italians preceded the French by about 20 years).
The Macchiaioli broke away from academic painting which focused on details and portrayals of historical and mythological figures.
Instead, they painted with free brush strokes without any defining lines (in fact, macchia literally means ‘spot’ or ‘blotch’ in Italian) trying to capture the ‘essence’ of the subject rather than a true-to-life reproduction.
They painted every day scenes and people (left), and even social problems such as one painting showing a death due to a factory accident (Incidente in Fabbrica by Fattori).
Like the French impressionists, the Macchiaioli painted outside to show how light played on the subject at different times of day.
This led logically to many paintings of nature scenes like forests, lakes, the seaside, and scenery and landscape in general with snow, fog or at dusk or sunrise.
This idea of art to represent daily life is found throughout the museum.
I’ll give you two examples:
One is a sculpture called ‘Return from the Post Office’ (Ritorno dalla Posta) by Rivalta Augusto.
A 19th century woman is engrossed in reading a letter. This simplest of daily actions is captured in stunning detail.
The artist captures the perfect pleats of the woman's petticoat and the dainty details on her fine headpiece, along with an expression of engrossed joy to be getting news from (one can imagine) her husband away in a battle somewhere.
Who hasn’t felt this same thrill of finally getting a letter you’ve been waiting for? This piece brings it back to you.
Another is a painting in Macchiaioli style by Plinio Nomellini called Primo Compleanno ('First Birthday') .
It shows a family happily celebrating a baby’s first birthday. The colors are a variety of blues and turquoises that are remarkably bright and striking – the painting seems to be sparkling.
You can really feel how proud the mother is as she holds her child up and the excitement of everyone in the room over this simplest of occasions.
Maybe you’ve never heard of these artists before, but, I hope that doesn’t make you think that their work is not worth seeing.
The museum is full of beautiful pieces like these.
Another theme at the Modern Art Gallery is a look at Italy leading up to the unification of the country in 1861.
There are paintings of people who fought for the cause, related battle scenes, and views of how the country was affected (below).
You also see portraits of the main supporters of Italian unity such as Giuseppe Verdi, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Vittorio Emanuele II, and rulers of the time such as Napoleone (king of Italy in 1805) who was a key figure in the phase between the French revolution and the unification of Italy.
The museum also celebrates Florence and Tuscany.
There are paintings of the Boboli gardens, Piazza Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio, Fiesole, Florence churches and the countryside such as Massacciucoli lake where Giacomo Puccini lived.
You also see portraits of other famous Europeans such as the writer Victor Hugo, the composer Gioacchino Rossini, the poet Lord Byron, and others.
If you like simply looking at beautiful art I think you’ll really love the Modern Art Gallery.
With the Macchiaioli pieces you get to see a different and lesser known style of Italian painting, and the pieces here overall are easier to appreciate than a lot of Renaissance art that focuses on historical and mythological themes.
If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in seeing ‘famous’ classical work by world renowned artists then this museum in the Pitti Palace might not be for you.
The Costume Gallery in Pitti Palace
The Costume Gallery in the Pitti Palace was opened in 1983.
The name might be a bit misleading because this is really a museum about clothes, fashion and accessories, not ‘costumes’ in the literal sense of the word.
The museum shows you how styles evolved and changed from about 1600 to the 1920’s.
There are over 6000 pieces but only a selection of these are on display at any one time.
The clothing and fabrics are delicate and to avoid damage the exhibit is changed every 2 years.
The museum has a couple of period pieces from Medici times, but most of the clothing is from the 1700's and onwards.
A lot is also from the 20th century.
Some of the presentations provide a nice touch: you see, say, a 17th century outfit, and, alongside it, a contemporary look that uses many of the same features.
In this type of display you get a good look at how fashions of the past influence today and how trends are always being recycled, albeit in more modern versions.
The museum focuses particularly on Italian fashion.
There are pieces from the most prestigious and influential Italian designers: Armani, Cavalli, Fendi, Ferragamo, Ferré, Gherardini, Missoni, Pucci, Valentino, Versace.
There are also quite a few French designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, and Jean Paul Gautier.
There are plenty of examples of 18th century clothing.
You see women’s gowns with tight bodices, puffed out skirts, and flouncy sleeves.
Men’s suits include pieces like waistcoats, breeches, and shirts with frills down the front and ruffles at the wrists.
The last room has a fun collection of accessories which has the cutest things.
Objects such as card purses, letter carriers, tiny sachets to carry matches, a purse-like portable checker set, and stocking-like pouches that are soft and puffy and tied at both ends (like a piece of candy) used to carry things like jewelry.
If you’re very interested in fashion and clothes this museum is clearly right up your alley.
Tickets to the Costume Gallery are cumulative and include the Boboli Gardens, the Bardini Gardens (nearby), the Silverware Museum and the Porcelain Museum.
The Silver Museum in Pitti Palace
The Museo degli Argenti, translated literally as the Silver Museum, is also referred to as 'the Medici Treasury', a name which is much more apt.
While there is valuable silverware in the museum, that is only a small part of the whole.
The museum was set up in 1860 and consists of collections of several kinds of precious objects which once belonged to the Dukes and Princes of Florence and Tuscany.
Exhibits include gems, cameos, gold and silver table settings and platters, beakers, silverware pieces, jewelry, ebony pieces, semi-precious stones, drinking horns, vases, liturgical pieces and more.
The museum is located on one wing of the Pitti Palace, in what used to be used as the summer apartments of the Duke.
One of the most impressive rooms is the grand hall which was richly decorated with frescoes for the wedding of Granduke Ferdinando II de Medici to Vittoria della Rovere in 1635.
These lush frescoes pay homage to the past achievements of the Medici family, in particular the life of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Overall, the museum is a vast collection of what is referred to as ‘applied arts’ or ‘decorative arts’, an art form in which every day objects are produced in a highly aesthetic way and are therefore not just common items anymore but are turned into art.
Rather than just a simple pitcher, a pitcher may be cast in a precious metal, etched with elaborate images or adorned with relief work making it into something more than just a water jug (right).
Cosimo de Medici was the first to start collecting objects made of rare or precious materials in the 1400’s.
In the museum you can see Cosimo’s rare collection of cameos.
The room on the ground floor is dedicated to the collection of Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Lorenzo’s collection includes a series of ancient vases made with semi-precious stones which are considered among the most important and valuable items in the museum.
In this room you can also see an exact image of the face of the great statesman and art patron: this is where the death mask of Lorenzo, cast in 1492 when he died in Florence, is kept.
In other rooms you can see pieces considered rare and exotic when they were brought into the Medici court.
See objects such as shells made of mother-of-pearl, sea coral, or ostrich eggs brought back from the explorations being carried out across the globe in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Such foreign (for the time) curiosity pieces were then re-worked, decorated or used as embellishing in quite creative ways.
The mezzanine houses an extensive jewelry collection, starting with the jewels of Anna Maria Luisa de Medici.
The selection of jewelry on display also includes many donations from varied sources many of which are also contemporary works.
One piece that stands out is a diamond and ameythst tiara by Cartier that is breathtaking (above).
Another striking piece of modern gold-work is a ‘blouse’ of lace-work made entirely of gold accompanied by a gold net-like headpiece.
The mezzanine is also where you can see a vast collection of miniature portraits, dated between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries.
A newer part of the museum exhibits the Medici's collection of porcelain as well as other porcelains donated to the museum which include Japanese and Chinese work and majolica pieces from all over Europe.
The Medici Treasury (or Silver Museum) in the Pitti Palace is for people who enjoy seeing rare pieces and collectors items.
If you're the kind of person who appreciates all types of craftsmanship and meticulous decorative work, then this museum is for you.
To get the most out of your visit however, it might be worthwhile to purchase a guide book at the museum shop as there aren't a lot of descriptions and explanations about the origins or history of the pieces on display.
Pitti Palace Ticket Information
A note about ticket prices:
The general prices for tickets to Palazzo Pitti, its museums and the Boboli gardens are written below.
However, prices may vary slightly if there is an exhibit on within the museums.
A combined ticket is a great bargain (see below) but during some exhibits combined tickets are suspended.
Go in free and skip the lines with a Florence Card museum pass!
Your best bet is to refer to the website on Florence museums if you want to be 100% sure about prices and ticket information for the days of your trip.
the Pitti Palace Museums and Boboli Gardens – Prices:
€11,50 euros buys you a combined ticket for the whole Pitti-Boboli complex.
This cumulative ticket is valid for 3 days and includes everything (the Palatine Gallery, Royal Apartments, Modern Art Gallery, Costume Gallery, Silver Museum, Boboli Gardens, and the Bardini Gardens)
Why is this the best deal?
For just a few euros more than you would pay for a single ticket to the Palatine and Modern Art Gallery, you get to see the Boboli Gardens and any/all of the other museums you may want to visit at Pitti.
The fact that a cumulative ticket lasts 3 days makes it a wonderful option since it can get very tiring to try to see everything in one day.
The combined ticket gives you the freedom to pop in and out of any Pitti museum you like and – if the weather’s nice – have a stroll or picnic at the Boboli Gardens each day too.
- Alternative Pitti Ticket Prices and Opening Times:
1) Cumulative ticket to Palatine Gallery, Royal Apartments & Modern Art Gallery
Price: € 8,50
reduced €4,25, for EU citizens between the age of 18 - 25
Free entrance for anyone under the age of 18 and EU citizens over the age of 65
Tuesday to Sunday: from 8:15 am – 6:50 pm
Holidays closed: January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th
2) Cumulative ticket to Boboli Gardens, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum, the Silver Museum and the Bardini Gardens (off the premises, a short walk from Boboli)
Price: € 7
reduced €3,50, EU citizens between the age of 18 - 25
Free entrance for anyone under the age of 18 EU citizens over the age of 65
November to February – 8:15 am to 4:30 pm
March - – 8:15 am to 5:30 pm
April/May & September/October – 8:15 am to 6:30 pm
June to August – 8:15 am to 7:30 pm
Closed: the first and last Monday of every month
Holidays closed: January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th
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OWNERSHIP OVER THE CENTURIES
The Palazzo Pitti was commissioned by Luca Pitti, who was less cautious about displaying his wealth by means of an ostentatious residence than was his associate Cosimo de' Medici, who had rejected a proposal by Brunelleschi as too grand accoroding to Vasari's Lives .
The palace remained in the Pitti family until 1549, when it was acquired by Eleonora of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany.
Cosimo purchased the land that lay between the palace and the city wall to the south. It stretched along the city wall between the Porta Romana and the Porta San Giorgio.
In 1550 Cosimo and Eleanor moved to the Palazzo Pitti, making it the new ducal palace. The former Palazzo Ducale then became known as the Palazzo Vecchio. (Francesco, who had recently married Joanna of Austria, took over Cosimo's former quarters in the Palazzo Vecchio at this time.)
Members of the Medici family, who ruled Florence as grand dukes of Tuscany until the early eighteenth century, occupied the Palazzo Pitti while they ruled.
Until becoming a museum in the twentieth century, the palace continued to be used as a government residence.
Function as a Museum
Today the palace is a popular site of tourism due to its extensive collections of fine and decorative art as well as its architecture and gardens.
Florence’s 2000 glorious years of history – From the most panoramic point at Palazzo Pitti
Hints to rediscover through an overview from above, the most important periods of this city, unique in the world for the primates achieved in history. You can admire the beautiful Basilica of S. Miniato, an exemplary Romanesque monument with marble inlays, characters and history that have passed from here.
The visit starts from Piazzale Michelangelo
- The stupendous basilica dominates Florence
- Walls of 1285 and main doors
- From the highest point above Florence
- Palazzo Pitti
After crossing the area of Porta Romana, we will arrive in the Florence area called Oltrarno, and we will go to visit the enchanting gallery organized over the centuries by the Medici Princes inside their palace. Here together with your guide you will choose to admire the most significant paintings.
The ceilings and walls are richly decorated with mythological scenes and the cycle of frescoes dedicated to the life and apotheosis of the Princes of the Medici family and Lorraine the most famous frescoes are by Pietro da Cortona.
The Palatine Gallery houses one of the finest collections of pictorial works from the 16th and 17th centuries. This was organized by personalities of the Medici family and housed in splendid rooms in the representative rooms of Palazzo Pitti like a Royal Palace.
Among the most famous works we will choose Pontormo, Filippo Lippi, Raphael (Madonna of the Chair) Tiziano (La Maddalena penitente) Andrea del Sarto, works by Florentine Masters and masterpieces of the 16th century: by Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rubens, Van Dick, Salvator Rosa and others.
This Tour starts from Piazzale Michelangelo
this tour is available in English, French or Spanish.
duration: 2/4 hrs
Inputs: not included
For the Boboli Gardens you need a different entry ticket.
New entrance tickets for Palazzo Pitti
From March to October we strongly recommend booking in advance to skip the long lines
We like to recommend you
It is possible to connect the visit to the gallery of the Pitti palace with a visit to an important monument in this same area: the church of S. Spirito and the Brancacci Chapel both are located in the Oltrarno district.
find out more: Brancacci Chapel