Visit Palazzo Pitti: what not to miss
Palazzo Pitti is the royal palace in Florence and is today a museum complex that includes a variety of exhibition spaces.
If you decide to visit Palazzo Pitti, you should know that the museum itinerary is divided into various spaces that are each very different from each other.
Built on the orders of a Florentine merchant and banker named Luca Pitti, the palace was bought by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wide Eleonora di Toledo in 1549 to become the new ducal residence and center of the Medici court (this is when the name of Palazzo della Signoria was changed to Palazzo Vecchio).
Since then, all the reigning families have lived here: the Medici, the Lorraine and, finally, the Savoy, when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
Today, Palazzo Pitti is the home of an incredible museum complex which includes: the Palatine Gallery and the Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes and the Museum of Costume and Fashion.
The Palatine Gallery, Royal Apartments and Gallery of Modern Art
Walking through the Palatine Gallery (“of the royal court”), you will find yourself admiring an extraordinary collection of artworks, displayed in this space by the Lorraine administration, which includes masterpieces from some of the main Medici collections that were not put on display in the Uffizi Gallery, as well as later acquisitions.
You’ll be left rubbing your eyes as you stroll between paintings by Raphael, Botticelli, Filippo Lippi, Titian, Van Dyck, Caravaggio, Rubens… you get it: the greatest artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, brought together in string of rooms and emotions.
Inside the Royal Apartments, you instead find a lavish complex of decorated and furnished rooms, where the members of the royal families lived, from the Medici to the Lorraine to the Savoy, with furnishings belonging to the collections of all three families, from the 1500s to the 1800s. Imagine walking through these rooms as you fantasize about the lives of the royals that lived in this place for centuries….
In the Modern Art Gallery, you can see a large selection of artworks from the Neo-Classical era to the 1930s. The rooms are organized in chronological order and by theme, with works by Canova, Mengs, Hayez, Ciseri and important painters from the Macchiaioli movement: Fattori, Lega and Signorini. The collection also includes works by famous painters of Divisionism and Symbolism, as well as Italian painters and sculptures from the 1930s.
Treasury of the Grand Dukes and the Museum of Costume and Fashion
The Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the “Silver Museum”) is housed in the Medici’s summer apartments and holds collections of precious objects belonging to the Grand Dukes of Tuscany: among these are the so-called “Salzburg Treasure” brought to Florence by Ferdinand III of the House of Lorraine, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici’s jewellery and some vases that belonged to Lorenzo il Magnifico.
The Museum of Costume and Fashion (formerly known as the “Costume Gallery”) is the first state museum dedicated to the history of fashion in Italy. An exhibition of historic clothing and accessories are displayed in chronological order, from the 18th century to the famous costumes worn by actors in popular films and theatre shows. A true gem of the collection is the 16th-century clothing worn by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleonora. The main exhibition changes occasionally, when pieces are brought out from storage, while a smaller part of the museum is reserved for shorter events.