Picture of the back of the Pitti Palace, inside the gardens.

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A look at Luca Pitti's Pitti Palace in Florence

Dominating an area of 32,000 square metres on the south side of the Arno river, is the Pitti Palace. Along with its illustrious on-site galleries and repositories, is the largest museum complex in Florence. The Palace was begun in 1458 and is mainly Renaissance in design. Luca Pitti was a Florentine banker and the project's eponymous commissioner. He made no secret of his desire to build himself a palace that would outshine the Palazzo Medici. It is claimed he was adamant that the windows should be larger than the doors of the Medici Palace.


The building's architect is not known for sure. Giorgio Vasari claimed it was Brunelleschi, the famous designer of the dome of the city's Duomo. But Brunelleschi's died prior to construction of the Pitti Palace. Thus the general consensus is; his pupil, Luca Fancelli, was the mastermind.

Whoever was responsible did not listen too closely to his employer. It was not fully the exercise in opulence that Luca Pitti envisaged. The designer managed to create what was then considered the quintessential Early Renaissance palace. That being an oblong with equal height and depth with rustic stonework (quarried from the adjoining Boboli Hill). The end result was austere yet majestic in appearance.

Picture of the Boboli Gardens of the Pitti Palace

Medici Influence

Ironically, the Medici bought the Palace in 1549. Bartolomeo Ammannati was drafted in to make substantial additions. The most ambitious of these was the creation of a large formal park to the rear of the property.

Boboli Gardens

These gardens would become known as the Boboli Gardens. They are one of the earliest examples of the "Italian Garden". They became an example to Europe. The design influenced many subsequent European courts.

The garden was conceived around a central amphitheatre and its Egyptian obelisk. Here was where the Medici staged classically inspired productions for the entertainment of their assembly. Charming romantic touches permeate the rest of the grounds. Grottos, nympheums, temples, fountains, pools, and antique statues all intersperse the immaculately kept lawns.

The Large Grotto

Some of the best sculptures in the gardens can be found inside the Grotta Grande (Large Grotto). It features a series of beautifully frescoed fountains and Giambologna's famous Bathing Venus.

Picture of one of the many splendid fountains in the gardens of the Pitti Palace

Galleries in the Pitti Palace

The Palatine Gallery

The best known of the several museums in the Pitti complex. It contains over 500 Renaissance paintings by artists such as:

  • Fra Bartolomeo
  • Caravaggio
  • Andrea del Sarto
  • Raphael
  • Rubens
  • Titian
  • Van Dyck
  • many other Italian and European masters

This gallery has not been altered since the 19th century. It has as many works in each room as possible. It is like they are a magnificent wallpaper on every surface with as many gilt-framed pieces as possible.

Gallery of Modern Art

Rather more liberally spaced are the paintings in the Gallery of Modern Art. It boasts more than 30 rooms and numerous works from the Macchiaioli movement. Other notable Italian schools are also represented.

Costume Gallery

This gallery in the Pitti Palace is a fine exhibit of over 6,000 items of extravagant clothing. All of these are from the last 300 years.

Porcelain and Silver Museum

Ornate pink-walls are a very suitable environment for Porcelain Silver. The Silver museum is also known as the Medici Treasury. This is due to its riches of silver, ivory, gems and rock crystal vases on show.

Tickets are Required

Tickets are available from the main entrance of the Palace. General admission will get you into the gardens and the Palace. The museums are attractions in themselves and separate tickets or a combination ticket.