Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti information

Florence , Italy
Piazza dei Pitti
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Opening hours
8.15am-6.50pm Tue-Sun, reduced hours winter
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Commissioned by banker Luca Pitta and designed by Brunelleschi in 1457, this vast Renaissance palace was later bought by the Medici family. Over the centuries, it served as the residence of the city's rulers until the Savoys donated it to the state in 1919. Nowadays it houses an impressive silver museum, a couple of art museums and a series of rooms recreating life in the palace during House of Savoy times.

Ground Floor

Exquisite amber carvings, ivory miniatures, glittering tiaras and headpieces, silver pill boxes and various other gems and jewels are displayed in the Museo degli Argenti , a series of elaborately frescoed audience chambers, some of which host temporary exhibitions. Notable (but not always open) is the Sala di Giovanni da San Giovanni, which sports lavish head-to-toe frescoes (1635–42) celebrating the life of Lorenzo Il Magnifico – spot Michelangelo giving Lorenzo a statue. 'Talk little, be brief and witty' is the curt motto above the painted staircase in the next room, the public audience chamber, where the grand duke received visitors in the presence of his court.

1st Floor

Raphaels and Rubens vie for centre stage in the enviable collection of 16th- to 18th-century art amassed by the Medici and Lorraine dukes in the Galleria Palatina , reached by several flights of stairs from the palace's central courtyard. This gallery has retained the original display arrangement of paintings (squeezed in, often on top of each other), so can be visually overwhelming – go slow and focus on the works one by one.

Highlights include Fra' Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child with Stories from the Life of St Anne (aka the Tondo Bartolini; 1452–53) and Botticelli's Madonna with Child and a Young Saint John the Baptist (c 1490–95) in the Sala di Prometeo; Raphael's Madonna of the Window (1513–14) in the Sala di Ulisse ; and Caravaggio's Sleeping Cupid (1608) in the Sala dell'Educazione di Giove . Don't miss the Sala di Saturno , full of magnificent works by Raphael, including the Madonna of the Chair (1511) and portraits of Anolo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi (c 1506). Nearby, in the Sala di Giove , the same artist's Lady with a Veil (aka La Velata; c 1516) holds court alongside Giorgione's Three Ages of Man (c 1500).

Past the Sala di Venere are the Appartamenti Reali , a series of rooms presented as they were circa 1880–91 during House of Savoy times.

2nd Floor

The Galleria d'Arte Moderna curates 18th- and 19th-century works. Paintings of the Florentine Macchiaioli school (the local equivalent of Impressionism) dominates the collection.

Crowning the palace is the Galleria del Costume , a parade of fashions from the times of Cosimo I to the haute-couture 1990s.