Palazzo Pitti - History and Facts | History Hit

Palazzo Pitti

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Palazzo Pitti was the home of the Medici family and now houses the Palatine Gallery.

Peta Stamper

21 Jun 2021

About Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti, translated as the Pitti Palace, is an incredibly grand Renaissance building in Florence, Italy, originally built in 1457 for Luca Pitti. Determined not to be outdone by the ruling Medici family, Pitti, who was an affluent banker, wanted to ensure that his home was as large and impressive as possible. The result was the Palazzo Pitti.

Palazzo Pitti forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Historic Florence and features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

Palazzo Pitti history

The Florentine banker Luca Pitti commissioned the palace in 1458, allegedly ordering the windows to be bigger than the Palazzo Medici entrance, home of Pitti’s friend Cosimo de’ Medici. The Palazzo Pitti was no real rival to the Florentine Medici homes, but signalled a change in the fashion of building – a severe design resembling less a palace and more Roman aqueduct.

Unfortunately for Pitti’s heirs, the task of trying to surpass the Medici proved too dear and in 1549 they were eventually left with no option but to sell Palazzo Pitti to none other than the Medici themselves. Under the Medici’s, Palazzo Pitti doubled in size and an above ground walkway was linked to the Pitti from Cosimo’s old home, the Palazzo Vecchio.

The palazzo went on to become not only the prime residence of the Medici, filled with paintings, jewellery and luxurious furnishings, but also that of every ruling Florentine family thereon as the seat of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Napoleon used the palazzo as a power base during the late 18th century and later was acquired by the Kingdom of Italy, who presented Palazzo Pitti to the nation in 1919. The palazzo was then divided into 5 galleries and a museum, including the Palatine Gallery that today contains a collection of over 500 Renaissance paintings.

Palazzo Pitti today

Today, the Palazzo Pitti continues to dominate Florence’s streets and is the largest museum complex in Florence. The palazzo houses a number of museums including the ornately frescoed 17th century Royal Apartments, the Porcelain Museum, Silver Museum and Museum of Modern Art, displaying paintings and sculptures from Neoclassicism to the 1930s.

However the main feature of Palazzo Pitti is undoubtedly the Palatine Gallery. This famous art museum contains works by many of the world’s most famous artists, such as Raphael and Caravaggio, many of which were owned by the Medicis.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday between 1.30am and 6.50pm, the Palazzo Pitti is a spectacular must-see on any trip to Florence.

Getting to Palazzo Pitti

An unmissable landmark in front of the Giardino di Boboli and along from the iconic Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti is found easily on foot or by public transport. The C4 and 11 buses stop just outside the palace.