Palazzo Pitti is another tourist main attraction stop you cannot miss while visiting Florence, it’s a massive palace owned over the centuries by very influential and powerful men in History. The construction of the building was commissioned in 1458 by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, friend of Cosimo de’ Medici. The building was sold in 1549 by Buonaccorso Pitti, a descendant of Luca Pitti, to Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I dei Medici.
On moving into the palace, Cosimo had Vasari enlarge the structure to fit his more needs of space…; the palace was more than doubled by the addition of a new block along the rear. Vasari also built the Vasari Corridor, an above-ground walkway from Cosimo’s old palace and the seat of government, the Palazzo Vecchio, through the Uffizi, above the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti.
The palazzo remained the principal Medici residence until the last male Medici heir died in 1737. the Medici dynasty became extinct and the palazzo passed to the new Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Austrian House of Lorraine, in the person of Francis I the Austrian tenancy was briefly interrupted by Napoleon, who used the palazzo 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, Victor Emmanuel II resided in the Palazzo until 1871.
Things to see in Palazzo Pitti
The Palazzo is now the largest museum complex in Florence with over 32,000 square meters divided into several principal galleries and inner museums.
- The Palatine Gallery is on the first floor of the piano nobile and contains a large collection of over 500 Renaissance paintings, once part of the Medicis’ and their successors’ private art collection. It contains works by Raphael, Titian, Perugino, Correggio, Peter Paul Rubens, and Pietro da Cortona.
- The Royal Apartments consist of 14 rooms, formerly used by the Medici family, and lived in by their successors. They contain a collection of Medici portraits, many of them by the artist Giusto Sustermans.
- Gallery of Modern Arts The gallery was intended to hold those art works which were prize-winners in the academy’s competitions. The Palazzo Pitti was being redecorated on a grand scale at this time and the new works of art were being collected to adorn the newly decorated salons.
- The Silver Museum, sometimes called “The Medici Treasury”, contains a collection of priceless silver from the collection of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
- The Costume Gallery contains a collection of theatrical costumes dating from the 16th century until the present detailing the history of Italian fashions. The gallery displays garments worn between the 18th century and the present days some of the exhibits are unique to the Palazzo Pitti including the 16th-century funeral clothes of Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, and Eleonora of Toledo and her son Garzia, both of whom died of malaria.
Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/floraflorence/6437323939/