Palazzo Pitti was built around 1440 from a design by Filippo Brunelleschi for the merchant Luca Pitti.
Cosimo I de’ Medici bought it in 1550 for his beautiful wife Eleonora di Toledo, to use as his family residence.
Ammannati was commissioned to carry out the works for the porticoed courtyard and the large windows, and Buontalenti was asked to created the Boboli Gardens on the land behind Palazzo Pitti.
When the building was enlarged, Bartolomeo Ammannati had to transform Luca Pitti’s house into nothing less than a Royal Palace: he created a sumptuous staircase and extended the palace on the garden side.
In 1553 Palazzo Pitti became the home to the dukes and was modified several times, until 1783.
In 1565 Giorgio Vasari created the famous raised “Vasarian Corridor”, connecting Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo della Signoria, crossing Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi on the other side of the Arno.
In 1618 Giulio da Parigi, Ammannati’s nephew, lengthened the body of the façade; lastly the Grand Duke Ferdinando II, on the occasion of his wedding to Vittoria della Rovere, called various artists to transform the Palace into a real castle.
At the end of the 1700s, commissioned by Pietro Leopoldo, the Palazzina della Meridiana was designed, in neo-classical style, as well as the two wings which stretch along Piazza della Signoria, called the Rondò, which was the last addition to Palazzo Pitti.
The Palace houses the Palatina Gallery, set up by the Grand Duke Leopoldo II in 1828, with works by Titian, Raffaello, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Perugino, Canova and Rubens.
In the Modern Art Gallery, a panorama of Italian painting from the eighteen and nineteen hundreds can be found, with a large collection of works by the Florentine impressionist painters known as the Macchiaioli.
During the XVII century, Palazzo Pitti was also the privileged seat of highly important scientific meetings, attended not only by the Grand Duke but also by Evangelista Torricelli and Vincenzo Viviani. The Cimento Academy, founded in 1657 by Prince Leopoldo de' Medici arose from these meetings, and was the first scientific society founded in Europe. The Academy closed its activities in 1667 and although an attempt was made to bring it back to life in 1801, the experiment was brought to a close after only 10 days. The instruments used by the Academicians for their observations of nature are now preserved in the History of Science Institute and Museum.
At present, Palazzo Pitti also houses other museums, such as the Silverware Museum, containing precious objects, also in ivory and crystal, and the Costume Gallery.
The Meridian Pavilion hosts the beautiful Costume Gallery, as well as the Contini Bonacossi collection with works by Goya, Veronese and Duccio da Boninsegna. The Porcelain Museum and the Carriage Museum, located in the Boboli Gardens, are also included in the Palazzo Pitti museum complex.