Palazzo Pitti

Top choice museum in Boboli & San Miniato al Monte

Commissioned by banker Luca Pitta in 1458, this Renaissance palace was later bought by the Medici family. Over the centuries, it was a residence of the city's rulers until the Savoys donated it to the state in 1919. Nowadays it houses an impressive collection of silver and jewellery, a couple of art museums and a series of rooms re-creating life in the palace during House of Savoy times. Stop by at sunset when its entire facade is coloured a vibrant pink.

Ground Floor

Exquisite amber carvings, ivory miniatures, glittering tiaras and headpieces, silver pillboxes and various other gems and jewels are displayed in the Tesoro dei Granduchi, 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 slowly 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 Museo della Moda e del Costume, a parade of fashions from the times of Cosimo I to the haute couture 1990s.