Walking around Florence, go to the southern bank of the Arno River through Ponte Vecchio. Then slowly walk along the Gvichchardini street. And you will not notice how the road leads you to Pitti Square. It is on it that one of the largest and most magnificent palaces of Florence is located - the Palazzo Pitti. What today is a huge Florentine museum was once home to the best representatives of the great dynasties.
Palazzo History: The Beginning
In the 15th century, the Medici family was in power in Florence. Family affairs were quite successful, and people respected its representatives. One of the family's most loyal friends was the Florentine banker Luca Pitti. However, as it turned out later, loyalty was ostentatious, and the true feeling that possessed a wealthy banker was envy. It was she who made a friend once organize in 1458 a conspiracy against the current government of the Medici family.
Then, to show his superiority, Luca Pitti began the construction of the palace. According to the plan, the new palazzo was to surpass any of the houses of the Medici. Some historical documents say that Pitti ordered the architect a palace, in the courtyard of which the entire Medici palace would fit, and the windows should have become as large as the doors of the same Medici.
It was previously assumed that the project was entrusted to the best architect of that time. Filippo Brunelleschi (Filippo Brunelleschi (Brunellesco)), 1377-1446). Recently, however, historians have been inclined to believe that most likely the idea belongs to his student Luca Francheli. Some architectural differences, as well as the fact that according to the updated data Brunelleschi had already passed away at the time of the start of construction, speak in favor of this assumption.
The dimensions of the new construction were staggering. To find a sufficient amount of labor, all who could be useful were accepted for construction. It could even be wanted criminals and people expelled from the city. But, despite the grand scale, Pitti's palace could not be compared with the calm grandeur of the Medici residences.
Over time, the prosperity of the Pitti family began to fade when his patron, Cosimo di Giovanni de 'Medici, died. Due to the advance of the Ottoman Empire, trade in Europe was in a precarious state. Many once wealthy families went broke. And in 1464, construction work in the palace stopped due to lack of funding. And in 1472, the owner himself died, having not seen the completion of his enterprise.
Continuation of a story
Despite the difficult situation in the country, the Pitti family was able to maintain some influence and continued to live in an unfinished palace. In 1537, Cosimo I regained power in Florence, becoming the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1549, Cosimo I bought the palace from the completely impoverished descendants of Luke Pitti, and presented it to his wife Eleanor of Toledo as a gift.
To move to his new possessions, the Duke and his wife decided to expand them. The initial project was taken as a basis. The building was greatly expanded from the back, increasing the occupied area by almost two times. The interior of the palace was divided into parts by semicircular arches with pilasters. The final version of the structure was 205 long and 38 meters high.
In 1565, by order of the duke, the architect Giorgio Vasari designed and implemented the corridor connecting the Palazzo Vecchio, where the government held meetings, with the Palazzo Pitti, where the whole Medici family was going to move. The covered passage also passes through the Uffizi Palace and Ponte Vecchio. Part of the bridge passing over Arno is equipped with a number of wide windows, from which a beautiful view of the river opens. A closed corridor allowed the duke and his family to move quite easily and safely. Later, the construction received the name of the architect who created it.
The land behind the palazzo was also redeemed. Later, a park was established on it, today known as the Boboli Gardens. Niccolo Tribolo began to arrange the park, and after his death the baton passed into the hands of Bartolomeo Ammanati. Also in the creation of the garden and park complex was attended by Giorgio Vasari, Bernardo Buonaleti and other equally famous architects. The park is an example of landscape gardening art of those times. Here, straight alleys twined with greenery lead to secret grottoes, and the trees look harmoniously in the company of statues and fountains. The central place of the park was considered an amphitheater made in the form of a horseshoe. It was there that all the celebrations and various ceremonies were held.
Over time, the influence of the Medici began to fade. Palaces and titles were still passed on to the next generations, but in 1737 the clan was completely cut short. After this, the Palazzo Pitti became the property of the Duke of Lorraine. However, this did not last long. After the Napoleonic wave of conquests, the palace was for some time dominated by the French. In 1860, the palace, together with the Tuscan province, passed into the power of the Savoy dynasty. From 1865 to 1871, during the time of Risorgimento, the king of Italy lived in the Pitti Palace Victor Emmanuel II. And in 1919, his grandson nationalized the palace, giving it to Italy.
After nationalization, the palazzo and the adjacent Bobole Gardens were divided into several museums and art galleries, which housed original works of art and various artifacts owned by the state. About 140 rooms are open for public inspection. Almost all of them were equipped in the late 17th and 18th centuries. In 2005, during one of the reconstructions, several secret bathrooms were discovered that have been preserved in their original form since the 18th century.
Pitti Palace embodies the vision of a Renaissance architect. It is a cube, equal in height and depth, and on the outside is covered with rough rusty stone. The building has three floors. The first has three large entrance doors, and the second and third have seven windows. The facade windows are connected by a long balcony, and a loggia is built under the roof.
The Palazzo Pitti is not only one of the largest Florentine palaces, but also the most impressive of them. The use of rough finishing materials in the cladding of a residential building, and not a public building, which was first used by the architect Mikelozzo in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, has been raised to the highest degree. Each of the three floors is more than 10 meters high. This elevates the building to a height unprecedented for those times, increased also by a natural elevation. Large coarse golden-colored stones used in the cladding, and windows that look more like rounded doorways, completed the initial appearance of the structure.
After the first reconstruction of the palace, carried out by order of Cosimo Medici, the appearance has somewhat changed. The side doors turned into huge floor windows. A wide staircase appeared, along which you could immediately get to the second floor. The length of the facade has almost doubled, due to two additional extensions. The main change made by Ammanati is the courtyard. It is still considered the most beautiful Renaissance courtyard (Cortile dell'Ammannati). On the walls facing the courtyard, smooth and rough textures alternate. The columns of the courtyard look like rough, knotty tree trunks, emphasizing the mixture of art and nature.
On one of the walls you can see a fresco painted in 1599 by Giusto Utens. On it the Palazzo Pitti appears before us as he looked in the late 16th century. This image looks like both a city palace and a country residence.
Recent global changes have occurred with the palace in the late 18th - early 19th centuries. The architects of the Dukes of Laurent Ruggeri, Paoletti and Pochchianti attached two semicircular wings to the building from the sides. As a result, the palace square was surrounded on three sides by walls. The left wing was named the Rondo Bacchus in honor of the statue of the same name located nearby. The right wing was called "Carriage Rondo."
During the 18-19 centuries, the appearance of many rooms has changed towards neoclassicism and restoration. The so-called White Room may seem especially interesting to you. Initially, its walls were covered with frescoes made by the Albertoli brothers. The room was later transformed into a neoclassical style by the architects Terreni and Castagnoli.
The French conquerors also left their mark on the interior of the palace. These include, for example, the room and lobby of Maria Bourbon or the bathroom of Napoleon. They were executed by the outstanding representative of neoclassicism of Tuscany Giuseppe Cacialli (Giuseppe Cacialli).
Palazzo Pitti today
Today in the Pitti Palace there are museums and art galleries. Moving to the Pitti Palace, the Medici took with them from the Palazzo Vecchio the entire collection of works of art, consisting of many paintings by famous artists, sculptures, silverware and precious stones. Gradually, the entire second floor was turned into a luxurious gallery. It had the mythical halls of Venus, Jupiter, Apollo, Mars and Saturn. They were painted by Pietro da Cortona (Pietro da Cortona, real name Pietro Berrettini, Berrettini)).
Initially, the entire ducal collection was placed there. Later, the Lorraines supplemented it, although the paintings were already placed to your liking. Despite the fact that initially the paintings performed a purely decorative function, their location has not changed since then. This gives an extra touch to a unique collection of art.
Gallery Palatine (Galerie Palatine)
For the first time, visitors were able to see the magnificent works of Renaissance masters in 1828 at the Palatine Gallery. It presents paintings by famous artists: Caravaggio, Velazquez, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and many others. The number of works by Raffaello Santi is noteworthy - there are 11 of them.
The general interior of the hall impresses with its Baroque luxury, being an excellent backdrop for the presented works of art. Contemplating the famous canvases made by masters, you get real pleasure.
Gallery of Modern Art
In the Gallery of Modern Art there is an exposition with the works of Italian masters of a later period (19-20 centuries). A group of Florentine masters painted in the form of bright spots of various colors. They called themselves "Macchiaioli" (ital. Macchiaioli, from macchia - spot).
Museum of Silver (Museo degli Argenti)
Exclusive vases that once belonged to Lorenzo Medici the Magnificent found refuge at the Museum of Silver. It also housed the vases of the Sasanian empire, amphorae brought from Ancient Rome. The variety of exhibits is amazing, but the main place, of course, is occupied by jewelry and other items made of gold and silver. The museum contains simply fabulous wealth. Special attention should be paid to the layout of Signoria Square, decorated with precious stones and metals.
Museum of carriages (Museo delle carrozze) and costume
The museum of carriages will present to your attention various means of transportation. Here you can see both the first wagons, still without springs, and cars.
In the Meridian (Small Palace), attached to the main building in the 18th century, an exhibition of costumes is available. Its exposure changes every two years. In total, the Costume Museum (Galleria del Costume) has collected about 6 thousand costumes and accessories since the 16th century.
In the right wing of the palace you can admire the interiors of the Royal Apartments from 14 rooms.
How to get there
Pitti Palace is located in Pitti Square near the Vecchio Palace. Address: Piazza dei Pitti Firenze, Italia. You can get there using buses No. 11.36 (stop San Felice).
Hotels near Palazzo Pitti
Tickets and opening hours
There are always a lot of people who want to get to the museums of the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. However, thanks to the huge footprint, you will not run across other visitors at every step. But in order to buy tickets at the ticket office of the museum without waiting in the middle of the season, one must have a considerable share of luck.
The palace is open for visitors daily, except Mondays, from 8-15 to 18-50. The inside entrance closes at 17-30. After all, only in the Palatine Gallery are at least 500 paintings. And the inspection takes time, and more than one hour. With the same ticket you can see the Gallery of Modern Art.
To avoid long queues, tickets to the Pitti Palace and surrounding gardens can be booked in advance on the website. True to the cost of the ticket will be added the cost of the reservation, usually 3 euros. After making the order and paying for it, a voucher will come to your email address, which must be printed out and exchanged for a ticket on the day of the visit, without waiting in line.
- Official website for ticket sales: www.polomuseale.firenze.it
If you have free time available, we recommend that you purchase tickets to the palace and gardens immediately. The ticket price to the Palatine Gallery is 8.5 euros. This ticket is valid for the Gallery of Modern Art. A ticket to the Museum of Costume History will cost you 7 euros, it can also be used to go to the Silver Museum and Boboli Gardens. The best option is to buy a combined ticket for 12 euros. It will give you the opportunity to explore any attractions of the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens for three days.
Important: during any additional exhibitions, ticket prices are subject to change. But do not forget about the system of discounts for privileged categories of the population. More detailed and relevant information can always be found on the website.
- Official website of the palazzo: www.polomuseale.firenze.it/musei/pitti.php?m=palazzopitti
Italians love to say that without visiting Florence, you will not be able to understand Italy. In relation to our case, we can say that without visiting the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, you can not fully enjoy the sights of Florence. Take the time to explore this national treasure and a symbol of aristocratic power.