Work on the building commenced in about 1457 and is often attributed to the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, but in reality Brunelleschi died before the building was even started, so it is thought the actual architect was his assistant Luca Fancelli. This first phase of the building took about 8 years to construct, and was much smaller than the building we can see today. Although Luca Pitti himself was very successful, unfortunately for them his decedents were not, so no longer able to afford such a property, in 1549 the palace was sold to the Medici family.
Palazzo Pitti, or Pitti Palace, located in Oltrarno, across the river Arno from the historic centre of Florence, is a huge 15th century palace constructed for a wealthy banker and rival to the Medici family, Luca Pitti. These days the building is home to a number of museums. The grounds of the palace, are known as Boboli Gardens, this monumental green area is the largest of its kind in Florence.
Within a year of the Palazzo Pitti falling into the hands of the Medici’s, they made this their main home. At this time, although close to the city, the building was still in a quiet, rural location. Over the years, the building expanded. A courtyard was constructed, the Boboli gardens were laid out, and later two wings were added. Palazzo Pitti is so large, it is now home to a number of museums. Both the Museo del Porcellane or Porcelain museum, and the Museo degli Argenti or Silver museum are located away from the main building and accessed via the Boboli gardens. The remaining museums, Galleria del Costume or Costume museum, Galleria d'Arte Moderne or museum of modern art, are accessed via the main courtyard. Also located on the right hand side of the Palazzo Pitti is the Museo delle Carrozze with a display of 17th to 19th century carrages.
Located in the left wing is the Palatine Gallery which is home for a superb collection of paintings from such artists as Correggio, Raphael, Rubens, and Titan. The lavish interior only adds to the grandeur.
From the Palatine Gallery, the visitor can make their way through to the Royal Apartments. These are a total of fourteen magnificently decorated rooms that were home to Medici and Lorraine families, and and for a brief period while Florence was the capital of Italy, the King himself.
To the left of the entrance to the Boboli gardens is a grotto designed by Buontalenti and often refered to as the Grotto Grande. Built during the 1580’s, it consists of three chambers which contain a number of replica sculptures, including the four slaves by Michelangelo, the originals of which are on display at the Galleria dell’Accademia.