Palazzo Pitti was the residence of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, that was inhabited, over time, by the Medici, by the Habsburg-Lorraine and, after the Unification of Italy, by the Savoy.
Palazzo Pitti hosts the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Apartment of the Duchess of Aosta, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum and the Carriage Museum. The museal complex of Palazzo Pitti also includes the Boboli Gardens.
Luca Pitti, a rival of the Medici family, wanted a more luxurious residence than the one built by Michelozzo for Cosimo the Elder. Around 1440, Pitti entrusted the project to Filippo Brunelleschi, but the architect died 12 years before the construction began, and the architect that will build Palazzo Pitti will be Luca Fancelli, a pupil and collaborator of Brunelleschi.
The construction was started around 1458 but, due to design problems and financial difficulties, the works were temporarily interrupted in 1465. Luca Pitti died in 1472.
Around 1550, Buonaccorso Pitti sold the palace to Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici and daughter of the Viceroy of Naples. The palace thus became the main residence of the Medici family, without actually changing its name.
The arrangement of the gardens was started in 1551, by Niccolò Tribolo. The original design of the gardens was centered around a central amphitheater, which was built using the natural conformation of the hill.
In 1560, the first extension of the building was realized by Bartolomeo Ammannati, who built, among other things, the imposing courtyard.
In 1565, Giorgio Vasari built a corridor (Vasari Corridor) that crossed Ponte Vecchio to connect Palazzo Pitti with Palazzo Vecchio, passing through the church of Santa Felicita, the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi.
In the meantime, between 1558 and 1570, Ammannati created a monumental staircase for the main floor, and extended the rear wings of the building, embracing the courtyard and closing it on the west side.
In 1616, a competition was launched to expand the part of the palace to the square, won by Giulio Parigi, nephew of Ammannati, who also led the work of lengthening the façade. The work was finished by Alfonso Parigi, his son, in 1631.
In the 18th century, Giuseppe Ruggeri added the two side wings that embrace the square.
In the early 19th century, the palace was used by Napoleon Bonaparte as a residence, during his government of Italy.
In 1833, under Leopold II of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, some parts of the palace were opened to the public as a museum. The Lorraine retreated after the annexation of Tuscany to Piedmont, in the process of Italian unification, and the palace passed to the House of Savoy.
Vittorio Emanuele II resided here from 1865, when Florence became the capital of Italy, until 1871, when he moved to the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, the new capital.
After various restorations, Palazzo Pitti is today a museal complex managed by the Uffizi Gallery.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo Pitti is located south of the Arno River, as you come from Ponte Vecchio, in Piazza de’ Pitti. The closest bus station is Piazza San Felice, on the Line 11, about 200 meters away. If you are in Florence and you would like to find the palace on foot, use the map below.