Good for: Photography, gardens, walking, art
Lonely Planet review for Palazzo Pitti
This vast palace was begun in 1458 for the Pitti family, rivals of the Medici. Cosimo I and Eleonora di Toledo acquired it in 1549 and it remained the official residence of Florence's rulers until 1919 when the Savoys gave it to the state.
The ground-floor Museo degli Argenti (Silver Museum) hosts temporary exhibitions in its elaborately frescoed audience chambers.
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 1st-floor Galleria Palatina . Highlights include 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. The sentimental favourite, Tiberio Titi's charming portrait of the young Prince Leopoldo de' Medici, hangs in the Sala di Apollo and the Sala di Venere shines with Titian's Portrait of a Lady (c 1536).
Past the Sala di Venere are the Appartamenti Reali (Royal Apartments), a series of rooms presented as they were c 1880–91, when they were occupied by members of the House of Savoy. The style and division of tasks assigned to each room is reminiscent of Spanish royal palaces, all heavily bedecked with drapes, silk and chandeliers.
Forget about Marini, Mertz or Clemente – the collection of the 2nd-floor Galleria d'Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art) is dominated by late-19th-century works by artists of the Florentine Macchiaioli school (the local equivalent of Impressionism).
Few visitors visit the Galleria del Costume (Costume Gallery), thus missing its fascinating, if somewhat macabre, display of the semi-decomposed burial clothes of Cosimo I, his wife Eleonora di Toledo and their son Don Garzia.