All Palaces in Tuscany

In Italy, a residence of a nobleman, usually larger than a regular house, is called palazzo, a term translated into English as palace. In the past, besides residences, the palazzi also functioned as warehouses and office spaces. Many cities in Italy have a Palazzo Ducale, the seat of the local lord. Probably, the city with the most palaces is Venice, mostly located on the banks of the Grand Canal.

Maybe the most important palaces in Italy are Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Palazzo Reale in Caserta, Doge’s Palace in Venice, Palazzo Reale in Milan, Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, Palazzo Reale in Naples, Palazzo della Ragione in Padua and Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia. With so many palaces, it is hard to decide which are the most beautiful and worth visiting, and that is why we suggest that you visit them all.

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    Palazzo Pitti

    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.   SHORT HISTORY 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 Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Ducale

    Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace), known once as the Palazzo degli Illustrissimi Signori (Palace of the Illustrious Lords) and today as the Palazzo della Provincia (Palace of the Province), is a palace located in Piazza Napoleone, in Lucca.   SHORT HISTORY Until the rise of Castruccio Castracani, Duke of Lucca, in the first years of the 14th century, the seat of the government of the Republic was located in Piazza San Michele. Castracani built the vast Augusta Fortress, in which he moved the entire administrative power of the city. The huge complex of Augusta Fortress, which covered about a fifth of the city, was destroyed by population in 1370, after the Emperor Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, gave the Republic its freedom. With the new lordship of Paolo Guinigi, a new fortress called Cittadella di Lucca was built on the ruins of the former Fortezza Augusta. In 1430, after the fall of Paolo Guinigi, the Citadel was destroyed as well, but the restored republican government preserved the palace that belonged originally to Castruccio, for its headquarters. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Palazzo Pubblico grew without a precise design, with the progressive addition of new buildings. Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Roncioni

    Palazzo Roncioni is a palace located on the northern bank of the Arno river, in Pisa, adjacent to the Palazzo Toscanelli and about 100 meters away from the Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici.   SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in the first half of the 17th century, by merging several medieval buildings. In 1662, the original owners, the Navarette family, sold it to the Roncioni family. In 1789, Angiolo Roncioni, passionate about art, hired the painter Giovanni Battista Tempesti to paint frescoes on the walls and vaulted ceilings of the palace, and J.B. Desmarais to paint family portraits. In 1794, Angiolo Roncioni and Andrea Agostini created the Roncioni Academy, a cultural circle where famous artists were invited, and where the most advanced theatrical texts of the period were presented. In 1795, the owner comissioned the architect Alessandro Gherardesca to build a small theater in the palace. The Count Vittorio Alfieri, the founder of the Italian tragedy, stayed there in the same year, when he was invited to recite his work Saul during the period of Luminara di San Ranieri. In 1816, the writer Madame de Staël lived in the palace, and later Louis Bonaparte – the brother of Napoleon, and Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dell’Opera

    Palazzo dell’Opera is a palace located on the north-eastern area of Piazza dei Miracoli, in Pisa, to the east of Campo Santo and to the north of Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Until the first years of the 21st century, the palace housed the headquarters of the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, which is the entity that manages the Cathedral of Pisa and the monumental complex of Piazza dei Miracoli. Currently, it only holds some offices for the technical staff and, since 2014, it hosts temporary art exhibitions.   SHORT HISTORY The main body of the building, which still maintains its original facade, dates back to 1309, while the expansions date back to the 18th century. The building was in fact the residence of the various workers of the cathedral complex: the tailor, the gardener, the bell ringers, until the 19th century, when the administration offices of the Opera della Primaziale were brought in the palace.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade shows a Medici coat of arms and marble panels with the initials of the Opera del Duomo, as well as an 18th-century plaque commemorating the stay of Charles VIII of France in Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Reale

    Palazzo Reale is a palace located on the Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, in Pisa, now hosting the National Museum of the Royal Palace.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) was built in 1583 by Bernardo Buontalenti for Francesco I de’ Medici, to replace the Medici Palace located near the Church of San Matteo. The palace was built by merging some medieval buildings dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries and partly still visible – that of the Counts Gaetani of Terriccio, Pomaya and d’Oriseo (the Tower of the Verga d’Oro and the Tower of the Canton), and was remodeled several times, during the 17th and 19th centuries. On an alley behind the palace, we can see the round arches of a medieval building, now lowered due to the rising of the floor, and from the courtyard, we can see an ancient tower, with an arched portal, two small windows with a pentagonal architrave and a single-lancet window higher up. On the ground floor of the courtyard, we can also see the remains of a loggia, with two columns with capitals, partially abraded. The Medici court met here mainly in winter, and among its guests were the scientists Galileo Galilei Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Agostini

    Palazzo Agostini, commonly known as Palazzo dell’Ussero or Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace), is one of the most beautiful palaces in Pisa and one of the main examples of Gothic architecture in Tuscany. The palace, belonging to the noble family Agostini Fantini Venerosi della Seta Gaetani Bocca Grassi, is home to the Caffè dell’Ussero starting with 1775, and houses the Cinema Lumière since 1899.   SHORT HISTORY In the first half of the 14th century, the Astajo family built their palace by merging two older buildings. In 1447, the heirs of Jacopo and Filippo Astajo ceded the palace to Antonio Primi. Later, the palace passed to the Florentine family Visdomini who, on 25 January 1465, ceded it to the brothers Antonio and Pietro, Pisan goldsmiths. In 1496, the palace was bought by Mariano and Pietro Agostini, belonging to a family of mercantile origin, specialized in the silk trade. The palace was restored in 1895 on a project of the architect Angelo Giannini. On May 12, 1895, the roof was added by Luigi Corona, on a design of the architect Luigi Del Moro.   ARCHITECTURE The facade, covered in terracotta tiles with a characteristic reddish color, from which the palace draws its Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Giuli Rosselmini Gualandi

    Palazzo Giuli Rosselmini Gualandi is a palace located in Pisa, on the Lungarno Gambacorti, near the Church of Santa Cristina. The palace has recently become known as the Palazzo Blu (Blue Palace), because of the restored color of its plasterwork.   SHORT HISTORY On November 14, 1356, Doge Giovanni Dell’Agnello, owner of some properties in the area, obtained permission to enlarge some of his buildings, thus raising the first nucleus of the palace, a structure composed of large pillars, with two or more modules, joined to form ogival arches, filled with bricks and decorated with single mullioned windows. During the first Florentine domination, between 1406 and 1494, the building underwent considerable changes, due to the decline of the Dell’Agnello family. Passed to the Municipality at the end of the 14th century, it became the property of the Republic of Florence, which used it as the headquarters for the five supervisors of the occupied city, until it was given back to Giovan Bernardino Dell’Agnello. Towards the end of the 16th century, the complex was transformed by the families of Sancasciano and Del Testa. It was precisely Emilio Del Testa, who in 1593 radically transformed the building to a sumptuous late-Renaissance palace, Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Canonica

    Palazzo della Canonica is a palace dating from the 16th century, located in Piazza dei Cavalieri, in Pisa, near the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, across the square from the Palazzo della Carovana.   SHORT HISTORY In 1567, Cosimo I de’ Medici donated the medieval buildings standing between Via Ulisse Dini and Via San Frediano, to provide quarters for the important and influential division of the priests of the Order of Knights of Saint Stephen. Giorgio Vasari was comissioned to design the palace, along with the whole new layout of the square, and David Fortini was the architect to built it. The works on the building lasted over forty years, because most of the funds available were directed to the construction of the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. The interventions continued until the 17th century. Between 1604 and 1607, the rooms on the top floor were built, which were renovated between 1690 and 1692, with further additions at the middle of the 19th century.   ARCHITECTURE The long facade of the palace closely resembles that of the Palazzo della Carovana. Three rows of windows define its facade as a whole, masking the differences between the medieval buildings joined Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Lanfreducci

    Palazzo Lanfreducci, also called Palazzo alla Giornata or Palazzo Upezzinghi, after the 19th century owners, is a Mannerist or early Baroque-style palace on the Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, in Pisa. The building is now the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Pisa.   SHORT HISTORY Built at the behest of Francesco Lanfreducci, Knight of Malta and exponent of an important and ancient family of Pisa from the 13th century, the palace owes its present appearance to the Sienese architect Cosimo Pugliani, who suprevised the works between 1594 and the early 17th century. The Pisans called it Palazzo alla Giornata, inspired by the motto chosen by its owner. One of the many legends raised by the enigmatic motto alla Giornata (on the day of the battle) tells that, after a long imprisonment in Algiers, the Knight Lanfreducci placed that inscription above the door as a reflection on the precariousness of life. Behind the palace, there was a church called San Biagio delle Catene, owned by the Lanfreducci family. Torre dei Lanfreducci (Tower of Lanfreducci) is one of Pisa’s best preserved medieval towers, located in the internal courtyard of the palace. The tower, with a rectangular plan, was built in two Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dell’Orologio

    Palazzo dell’Orologio (Palace of the Clock) is a palace in Pisa, located in Piazza dei Cavalieri, near the more famous Palazzo della Carovana and about 100 meters away from the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavaleri.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo dell’Orologio is an ancient medieval building where the Captain of the People (Capitano del Popolo) resided from 1357, when the palace already belonged to the Gualandi family. When the palace was built, it incorporated the famous Torre della Muda (or della Fame – Tower of Hunger) where in 1289 the Count Ugolino Della Gherardesca, along with his sons and grandchildren, died of hunger. The profile of the tower is still recognizable to the left of the central arch, where the 20th-century four-light window opens today. Starting with 1566, the palace housed the infirmary of the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen. The health manager was called Bonomo, and for this reason the palace is also known as Palazzo del Bonomo. The current appearance of the palace dates back to 1605-1608, when two neighboring buildings were joined through an arch with a clock, according to a project of Giorgio Vasari from 1554. Between 1607 and 1609, Giovanni Stefano Marucelli and Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Toscanelli

    Palazzo Toscanelli, known until the 19th century as the Palazzo Lanfranchi, is a Renaissance-style palace located on the Lungarno Mediceo, in Pisa, about 120 meters away of the Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici. Since 1913, the palace is the seat of the State Archive (Archivio di Stato di Pisa), which holds an impressive collection of documents from the archives of the Pisan Republic. Over time, the archive was enriched with documents from the Pisan monasteries or donations from private individuals belonging to noble Tuscan families.   SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in the first half of the 16th century by Bartolomeo Lanfranchi. Another palace commissioned later by Alessandro Lanfranchi stands across the Arno river. In 1576, the palace was refurbished after a design by Francesco Mosca. Lord Byron lived in the palace between 1821 and 1822. From here, the English poet left for Greece, where he died in 1824. The Toscanelli family bought the palace in 1827. The current appearance of the building dates back to the same 19th century, when Palazzo Toscanelli was renovated by the architect Alessandro Gherardesca. Giovan Battista Toscanelli and his wife, Angiola Cipriani, lived in the palace, gaining over time a large and prominent art Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici

    Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici, formerly Palazzo Appiano, is a palace in Pisa, located on the Lungarno Mediceo, about 120 meters away of Palazzo Toscanelli. Today, Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici is the seat of the Prefecture.   SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in the 13th century, on the site of a previous building dating back to the 11th century. The Appiani family, lords of Pisa between 1392 and 1398, lived here until 1446, when the palace was bought by the Medici family. Lorenzo de’ Medici often stayed there, as he came to the Tuscan coast to cure his frail health. The King Charles VIII of France, guest of Piero di Lorenzo de’ Medici, also known as Piero the Unfortunate, resided in the palace in 1494, when Florence rebelled against Piero and he was exiled from the city. In 1539, the palace was the residence of Cosimo I de’ Medici. In 1574, Francesco I de’ Medici built a new Medici palace in Pisa, Palazzo Reale, and by 1784, the Medici Palace was sold to Jacopo Finocchietti. In 1871, the architect Ranieri Simonelli was comissioned by Vittoria Spinola, the morganatic daughter of Vittorio Emanuele II, to restore the palace. The architect transformed Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Carovana

    Palazzo della Carovana, also known as Palazzo dei Cavalieri, is a palace with a beautiful facade located in Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square), in Pisa, between the Palazzo dell’Orologio and the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. The palace was once the headquarter of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, but since 1846 it houses the Scuola Normale Superiore.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo della Carovana was built between 1562 and 1564 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, drastically restructuring the medieval Palace of the Elders (Palazzo degli Anziani). Some remains of the old building are still visible along the sides of the palace. In 1810, Napoleon suppressed the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen and gave the building to the Scuola Normale Superiore, the university he founded. The double-flight marble staircase was built in 1821 by Giuseppe Marchelli and the rear part of the building was added between 1928 and 1930, after a design by Giovanni Girometti, on the occasion of the revival of the Scuola Normale.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE Vasari regularized the uneven medieval facade, fusing three arts he mastered – architecture, sculpture and painting. The sgraffiti with allegorical figures and zodiacal signs, designed by Vasari Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici

    Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici is a palace in Piazza Grande, in Arezzo, known as the headquarters of the Fraternita dei Laici, an institution founded in 1262, still active today and very involved in projects of social and cultural interest.   SHORT HISTORY The Palace, begun in 1375, was completed only in the second half of the 16th century. Between 1550 and 1560, the façade was finished with the construction of the balcony and the lunar phases of the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic Clock, built in 1552 by Felice di Salvatore da Fossato. The part of the Palace towards the apse of the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve was completed in the second half of the 17th century, following a project by Giorgio Vasari. The renovation of the Palazzo della Fraternita in 1781, supported by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, led to the opening of the Library of Fraternity to the public. Today, the palace hosts the Fraternita dei Laici Museum, reopened in 2010.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The original painting of Christ from the external lunette of the central portal, replaced by a copy at the end of the 1970s, is now in the National Museum of Medieval and Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Provincia

    Across the road from the Palazzo del Comune, there is another palace called Palazzo della Provincia, seat of the Province of Arezzo, one of the ten provinces of Tuscany. Together with the Palazzo del Comune and the Cathedral of Saints Donato and Peter, Palazzo della Provincia forms a complex very close to an ideal agora, where the main administrative centers of the city are concentrated, in a dominant position of the San Pietro Hill.   SHORT HISTORY On February 24, 1913, the administration of the Province decided to build its new headquarters, commissioning the engineer Giuseppe Paoli for this project. The project consisted in a new building to be used as offices and the restoration of two pre-existing buildings. The masonry work, carried out by the company Giuseppe Rossi of Arezzo, was started shortly after and ended only on September 27, 1925, with the official inauguration of the headquarters. Concerning the decorative works, the realization of the frescoes is entrusted, at the suggestion of the designer, to the painter Adolfo De Carolis, in 1922. The sketch is immediately approved and the works – started in the summer of 1922 and executed entirely by De Carolis, are concluded at the end Read more [...]

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    Palazzo del Comune

    Palazzo del Comune, seat of the Town Hall of Arezzo, was built in 1333 as Palazzo dei Priori, on the top of the hill of San Pietro, a short distance from the Cathedral of Santi Donato e Pietro.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Comunale, located on the west side of Piazza della Libertà, was home to the supreme magistrature of the Comune of Arezzo. The original facade of the building, from the 14th century, can be seen from Via Ricasoli, as the rest of the structure has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries. In 1454, there was a first major renovation and, in 1466, the large clock was mounted on the tower. In the second half of the 16th century, a new makeover of the palace began after a design by the famous Florentine architect Alfonso Parigi, which ended in 1602. The layout of the stairs was changed and the large internal portico was built. In 1650, the façade collapsed and some frescoes painted by Lorentino d’Andrea were lost. The reconstruction was carried out by slightly withdrawing the front of the building. In 1715, a bell dedicated to the Madonna and San Donato was placed in the tower. The last major Read more [...]

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    Palazzo dell’Antella

    Palazzo dell’Antella is a building with a beautiful frescoed façade in Piazza di Santa Croce, in Florence, the result of the unification of several houses belonging to the Ricoveri family.   SHORT HISTORY The first significant expansion of the palace dates from the second half of the 16th century – the building was raised by a floor, including a mezzanine, and the wooden doors were replaced with stone ones, still visible today. The architect of the palace is thought to be someone from the circle of Baccio d’Agnolo. In the early 17th century, the palace passed to Senator Niccolò dell’Antella, through the dowry of his wife Costanza del Barbigia. In 1619, dell’Antella commissioned the architect Giulio Parigi to give a unified design to the properties the senator bought in Piazza di Santa Croce. To give a unified appearance to the adjacent buildings, he had the entire facade painted with frescoes. The paintings were made in just twenty days of work, between 1619 and 1620, by a team of thirteen young artists supervised by the painter Giovanni da San Giovanni. Dell’Antella died out in 1698 and, later, the palace passed by inheritance to Dal Borgo, then to Lotteringhi della Stufa and Read more [...]