Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti)
Discover a wealth of art within the vast, fortress-like walls of the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti). The Gallery of Modern Art holds important Italian pieces from the 18th to early 20th centuries, while the Silver and Carriages museums offer glimpses into the lifestyle of Florence’s longest-ruling family. The Palatine houses a collection of masterpieces second only to the Uffizi’s. The core of the building was constructed in 1458 for wealthy banker Luca Pitti, and sold to the Medicis in 1549. It was opened to the public in 1919.
Enjoy art as the royals would have in the Palatine, the most famous of the Pitti’s galleries. The pictures have not been ordered or spaced according to chronology or style, but left to hang as they would have when it was still a private collection. Find more than 500 mostly Renaissance works. Raphael’s Madonna of the Chair with St. John the Baptist as Child and Caravaggio’s Sleeping Cupid hang close together in the ornately decorated rooms.
The Gallery of Modern Art is on the second floor. The name is slightly misleading. In Italy, “modern art” refers to the two centuries before World War II. The 30-room gallery houses some of the most important pieces from this period.
Go to the Royal Apartments on the main floor to see how the ruling families once lived through three periods of Florence’s history. The 14 rooms contain furnishings such as four-poster beds, grand chandeliers and frescoed walls, as well as portraits of the Medici family. Explore museums dedicated to silver, porcelain and carriage collections. The apartments are closed in January each year for maintenance.
Step outside into the Boboli Gardens. These gardens house a collection of sculptures and Roman antiques. They’re also one of the first examples of formal Italian garden design and offer excellent views across the city.
The Pitti Palace is located south of the Arno River in the Piazza di Pitti. The palace is closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, May 1 and Christmas Day. The galleries have different opening hours and separate admission fees; check the website of the Polo Museale Fiorentino (an institution which administers art works) for a schedule and ticket prices. The gallery has audio guides to rent and a café in the courtyard.