Pitti Palace, the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany
Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens tour tour takes you to discover the unexpected wonders of the Florence Grand Dukes of Tuscany, those of the Medici and Lorraine families. This itinerary reveal the opulent image of a court that wanted to surround itself with artistic beauties well beyond the golden age of the Renaissance, decorating its residence with baroque and then neoclassical splendours.
We will begin our tour with a visit to the Palatine Gallery, one of the most admirable examples in Europe of picture gallery, that is, the arrangement of paintings by overlapping, as only a few survivors places can you now see.
Visiting the gallery you will admire the masterpieces of the greatest masters of Western art, from Botticelli to Rubens, passing through Caravaggio and Van Dyck. In addition, the Gallery houses the largest collection of paintings by the great Raphael Sanzio: thirteen, including the well-known Madonna della Seggiola and the Madonna delle Impannate.
The Table of the Muses, a masterpiece of the Florentine “Commesso”
One of the first rooms we see in the Pitti Palace tour is the so called “Castagnoli Room” that preserves the “Table of the Muses“, a masterpiece of the marble “Commesso”, a Florentine artistic tradition that in the past was among the most popular in Europe.
Visiting the Duchess’s apartment, we see some of the rooms used in the past by the members of the court in daily life, when a part of the otium was dedicated to contemplation and discussion of works of art that were sometimes of burlesque subject, such as the paintings by Volterrano preserved in these spaces.
Among the rooms that have been preserved we even have a bathroom, still decorated with neoclassical style furniture and which, as we will discover, is linked to Napoleon for a particular reason…
The rooms of the Planets, a journey into the wonders of the Western art
Our Pitti Palace tour continues with a visit to the so-called Rooms of the Planets, a series of majestic rooms, frescoed by the well-known Baroque painter Pietro da Cortona, where you can not only take an iconographic and symbolic journey aimed at celebrating the life of the Grand Dukes, but also admire the works of the great artists in the history of art: in fact, the works by Perugino, Filippino Lippi, the great Raphael are here preserved, continuing then with Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Rubens and Salvator Rosa.
We will complete the Pitti Palace tour by visiting the rooms inhabited by members of the royal Savoy family during the period in which Florence was the capital of Italy.
The Boboli Gardens
The second part of the Pitti Palace tour, which will take place after the lunch break, will be a visit to the Boboli Gardens. This majestic park is the result of a series of interventions ranging from the mid-16th century, when the Duchess Eleonora of Toledo bought this space and the palace, up to the time of the Lorraine and Savoy families, when a part of the green space took on the typical features of an English garden, as it was fashionable at that time.
Our tour of the Boboli Gardens will start from the auditorium of the ‘theatre’ which is located immediately behind the Pitti Palace.
The wondorus works in the Boboli Gardens
Here we have the opportunity to retrace the history of this structure built in the Baroque era but which has its precedents in a theatre built in the mid-1500s and which had important literary ties with the antiquarian culture characterising the reign of Cosimo I’s era. Along the way, we will meet superb creations by the great masters of sculpture, such as the Neptune group made by Stoldo Lorenzi, the “Artichoke fountain“, or the extraordinary island that has at its centre the fountain called the “Ocean”, one of the greatest creations by Giambologna.
Visiting the Giardino del Cavaliere”, we will analyze the meaning of this apparently simple name and, above all, admire the beautiful panorama of the south-east area of Florence.
The refined Kaffeehaus and the mysterious Buontalenti’s Grotto
As this space is one of the highest points of the city, here you will be able to see important buildings of the city, such as the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, the ‘Arnolfian’ walls and the Galli Castle, a building that is linked to important episodes of Florence history … We will continue with the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens tour seeing the Kaffeehaus, an elegant Rococo style building that is an interesting testimony of a custom introduced in Florence in the 18th century by the members of the Lorraine family: taking the outdoor cafe.
The last stop on our route is the mysterious “Grotta grande” or “Grotto”, known as the “Grotta del Buontalenti“; this is a symbolic creation of the alchemical culture that characterised the reign of Francis I, in the second half of the 16th-century, and preserves refined works that conceal a symbolism of great charm.
Through the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens tour you will be able to discover a little known side of the history of Florence where court glories, family intrigues and superb artistic creations intertwine in what was one of the first examples of royal residence in Europe.