Palazzo Pitti ★★

The front of the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace) in Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy (Photo by Avital Pinnick)
The front of the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace) in Florence

Florence's princely Renaissance Pitti Palace was once home to the Medici, the Lorraines, and the Savoy Kings of Italy—now a whole series of museums

The rear facade of the Pitti Palace, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy. (Photo by Stefan Bauer)
Ammanati's back courtyard of the Pitti Palace with the Boboli Gardens beyond, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy. (Photo by George Grinsted)

This massive palace across the river that was once home to the Medici Grand Dukes now houses a plethora of museums and one heck of a painting gallery that makes the Uffizi look like a preamble.

You literally could not visit all six of its museums and the Boboli Gardens in a single day. However, 90 minutes to two hours will suffice for a run through the best part: the main paintings collection in the Galleria Palatina, pop your head into the Modern Art collection, and tour the sumptuously decorated Appartamenti Reali state apartments.

Peronsally, I'd also set aside another 45 mintues to relax in the Boboli Gardens.

Only those with a particular interest in the decorative arts (the Silver Museum and Museum of Porcelain) or history of fashion (Costume Gallery) will bother with the Pitti's various smaller, lesser collections. (Note: except by special appointment, the Museum of Carriages—where you can marvel at how the later Medici pimped their rides—is perennially closed.)

The Palazzo Pitti itself

Though the original, much smaller Pitti Palace was a Renaissance affair probably designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, that palazzo is completely hidden by the enormous mannerist mass we see today.

Inside are Florence's most extensive set of museums, including the Galleria Palatina, a huge painting gallery second in town only to the Uffizi, with famous works by Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, and Rubens.

When Luca Pitti died in 1472, Cosimo de' Medici's wife, Eleonora of Toledo, bought this property and unfinished palace to convert into the new Medici home—she hated the dark, cramped spaces of the family apartments in the Palazzo Vecchio.

They hired Bartolomeo Ammannati to enlarge the palazzo, which he did starting in 1560 by creating the courtyard out back, extending the wings out either side, and incorporating a Michelangelo architectural invention, "kneeling windows," on the ground floor of the facade.

(Rather than being visually centered between the line of the floor and that of the ceiling, kneeling windows' bases extend lower to be level with the ground or, in the case of upper stories, with whatever architectural element delineates the baseline of that story's first level.)

Later architects finished the building off by the 19th century, probably to Ammannati's original plans, in the end producing the oversize rustication of its outer walls and overall ground plan that make it one of the masterpieces of Florentine mannerist architecture.

The ticket office for the painting gallery—the main, and for many visitors, most interesting of the Pitti museums—is off Ammannati's excellent interior courtyard ★ of gold-tinged rusticated rock grafted onto the three classical orders.

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 (Photo by Dimitris Kamaras)

"Uffizi Part II": A stellar collection of High Renaisance and baroque art in the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
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The Sala Verde (Green Room) in the Appartamenti Reali of the Pitti Palace, Florence (Photo by Jean Louis Mazieres)

The elaborately decorated Royal Apartments and state rooms of the Medici and Lorraine Grand Dukes in the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
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"The Tuscan Maremma" (1894) by Giovanni Fattori (Photo Public Domain)

The Galleria d'Arte Moderna is a collection of works by Tuscan macchiaoli (Impressionsts) and other modern art in the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
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Oval with perspective view of the Piazza Granducale (now the Piazza della Signoria) from 1599-1600, a mosaic mosaic in pietra dura (lapis lazuli, oriental chalcedony, cornelian, heliotrope, rock crystal), gold, and gilded bronze, by the Botteghe Granducali (Bernardino Gaffuri and Jacques Bylivelt) (Photo courtesy of the Uffizi)

A decorative arts collection of extravagant objets d'art and housewares once belonging to the Medici and Lorraine Grand Dukes

 
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 (Photo by Avital Pinnick)

The Costume Gallery has some fabulous dresses, jewelry, and accessories dating back to the 1500s, though most of the clothes in this fashion museum date from the 19th century through the 1920s

 
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Belvedere rose garden (Photo by Damian Entwistle)

The Giardini di Boboli offer a rare park in busy Florence—and the birthplace of opera—in terraces of greenery behind the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
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Porcelain cup (c. 1800–50) from Doccia showing Piazza della Pignoria, Museo delle Porcellane, Palazzo Pitti, Florence (Photo by Sailko)

The Museum of Porcelain houses the Medici's dinner services, teacups, and ceramic statuettes from the top European porcelain producers of the 18th and 19th

 
 
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  • The front of the Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace) in Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Italy (Photo by Avital Pinnick)
  • The rear facade of the Pitti Palace, Palazzo Pitti, Italy (Photo by Stefan Bauer)
  • Ammanati
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Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Palazzo Pitti for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

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How long does Pitti Palace take?

Budget at least two hours for a cursory visit of just the Galleria Palatina and Appartamenti Reali.

If you plan to venture into the Boboli Gardens, give it another hour. 

If you have only passing interest in the other museums, each will take about 20 minutes.

Note that the last entry for every museum or part of the Pitti complex is 45 minutes before closing.

The Boboli Gardens close one hour early.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).