In 1440 Luca Pitti began the construction of Palazzo Pitti, the largest and the most beautiful palace in Florence, on the left bank of the Arno river to rival the glory, if not power, of the Medici.
Luca Pitti was a rich banker who lived in Florence in the middle of 15 century. With the help of his immense wealth and the trust of the Signoria (government) he obtained the great influence on the affairs of state, almost equal to that of the duke Cosimo I de` Medici who ruled over Florence.
At the peak of his glory, that is, in 1440, he decided to build a palace, which would have no peers in Florence. And in all records it is always mentioned that Luca Pitti wanted the windows of his palace to be like the doors of the Medici Palace, and the inner court of his palace to be the size of the entire Medici Palace.
The building of the palace was commissioned to Filippo Brunelleschi, the same architect whose project of the palace was rejected by the Medici as being too big and luxurious. And it seems Pitti had no such problems.
At first, Palazzo Pitti was much smaller than today. Its original length was only 107 m. And Luca Pitti couldn’t finish the palace because of his bankruptcy in 1465, and the construction was stopped after his death in 1472.
In 1549 the palace was bought out by Eleanor of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de` Medici. So, the Medici moved to the palace designed to rival their ancient palace. Before the official residence of the Medici was moved to Palazzo Pitti it was considerably enlarged. The length of the palace was nearly doubled reaching 205 meters and wings were added. However, the general appearance of the palace remained almost the same.
Today Palazzo Pitti houses several museums. The most important of them is the Palatine gallery. There are many works of the great painters of the Italian Renaissance at the gallery. Particularly, you can see 11 works of Raphael there. It is more than at any other museum in the world. Besides, there are exposed the pictures of Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio, and Murillo.
Of at least the same interest or may be of greater interest than Palazzo Pitti itself are the Boboli Gardens planted behind the palace in 16 century. By all means should you visit them. They command a beautiful view on the Old Town of Florence, Santa Maria della Fiore Cathedral, and Palazzo Vecchio.