Palazzo Pitti

Palazzo Pitti is a large palace dating back from Renaissance, built in Florence. It is located on the south bank of the Arno river, a few steps away from the Ponte Vecchio. The history of the palace dates back to 1458, when it was the residence of Luca Pitti, a Florentine banker.

The Palazzo Pitti was purchased by the Medici family in 1549 and soon became the residence of the ruling family of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It was then developed as a great treasure house, where plates, jewelery and luxury goods were stored.

At the end of the 18th century, Palazzo Pitti was used as a base by Napoleon, and then served for a brief period as the main royal palace of the new united kingom of Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919.

The palace is now the largest museum complex in Florence: the main block of the palace spans over a surface of 32,000 square meters.

The construction of this building was commissioned by the Florentine banker Luca Pitti, supporter and friend of Cosimo de’ Medici.

The ancient history of Palazzo Pitti is a blend of reality and myth: the 16th century art historian Giorgio Vasari suggested that Brunelleschi was the architect of the palace, and that his pupil Luca Fancelli was his only assistant; but today the palace is generally attributed to Fancelli.

In addition to apparent differences of style, Brunelleschi died 12 years before the construction of the building began. Design and windowing suggest that the unknown architect was more skilled in home architecture than in the humanistic rules defined by Alberti in his book De Re Aedificatoria.

The Boboli Gardens, behind Palazzo Pitti, are among the most famous Italian gardens of the 16th century. They incorporates several axial developments, a large gravel walkways, a remarkably stone-built element, many statues and fountains, and a proliferation of details.

Although impressive, the original Palazzo Pitti would have been a rival of the Florentine residence of the Medici both in terms of size and content. The architect of Palazzo Pitti moved against the contemporary flow of fashion: the stones of the external walls gives the palace a serious and powerful atmosphere, reinforced by the three times repeated series of seven arc-headed openings, recalling a Roman aqueduct.

This original design has resisted during the centuries: the repetitive formula of the facade continued during the subsequent additions to the palace, and its influence can be seen in numerous imitations of following centuries.

And what about Luca Pitti? He suffered financial losses following the death of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1464, due to the fact that its work was stopped later. Luca Pitti died in 1472, when the building was still unfinished.

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