One of the grandest Renaissance buildings in Florence, the 15th-century Pitti Palace houses the Palatine Gallery, a collection of over 500 paintings dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The collection features works by Italian masters like Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Pietro da Cortona, and other European painters like Rubens and Velazquez.
Palazzo Pitti was home to Florence’s Medici family for centuries, and today the palace’s rooms and halls form a sumptuous backdrop for the Renaissance and baroque paintings and frescoes in the Palatine Gallery (Galleria Palatina), formerly the private collection of the Grand Duke. Laid out according to the Grand Duke’s personal tastes rather than by painting school or chronological order, the gallery was opened to visitors in 1828 by Leopold I of Lorraine.
Though less well-known than Florence’s Uffizi Gallery (Galleria degli Uffizi) or Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell'Accademia), the Palatine Gallery matches both in importance and beauty, and is best visited with an expert tour guide who can concentrate on the most significant works from the hundreds on display. Most guided tours of Pitti Palace include a visit to the gallery along with the Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Boboli Gardens.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Palatine Gallery is of special interest for art and history buffs.
- Pitti Palace is the largest museum complex in Florence and exploring requires quite a bit of time on your feet, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- Traveling families can use the private nursery for feeding and changing infants.
- There is a café and bookshop in the courtyard of the Pitti Palace.
- The Palatine Gallery is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Palatine Gallery is located in the Oltrarno neighborhood on Piazza Pitti, about a 15-minute walk from the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station across the famous Ponte Vecchio.
When to Get There
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday 8:15am to 6:50pm. Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, so its sights and museums can be very crowded in the summer. Schedule a visit to the Palatine Gallery in spring or fall, if possible, and avoid the first Sunday of the month, when the museum is free and particularly packed.
Other Museum Highlights in Florence
Art aficionados visiting Florence must also plan on visiting Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery and the masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery.