Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
On July 16 students participated in a special lecture on the Palazzo Pitti. The lavish building was started in 1458 by a Florentine family called the Pitti. They wanted to construct something to rival the grand palaces of the Medicis. Ironically, the huge funds pumped into this palace were to be the ruin of the Pitti Family. They were forced to sell it to the Medicis (the very family they were trying to outdo), a century later in 1549. The palace remained in the hands of the rulers of Florence until 1919 when the Savoy family gave it over to the state.
The buildings underwent extensive changes. One of the most famous of these was the work of Giorgio Vasari, who constructed a corridor to link the Palazzo Vecchio (the old Medici residence) to the Palazzo Pitti (the new Medici residence) in the 16th century. The corridor passes through the Uffizi, over the top of the Ponte Vecchio, through a church and several other buildings, before arriving at the Palazzo Pitti. The idea was that the Medicis could go from one building to the other without having to mix with the commoners in the street. It was around this time that there was a big change to the Ponte Vecchio. Up until this point, it had been full of butcher shops and the Medici women found this part of the journey so smelly and, therefore, disagreeable that the butchers were forced off the bridge and instead the jewelers who still occupy all the shops on the bridge today were obliged to take their place.
The main museum is the Palatina. It houses a rich collection of 16th to 18th century paintings. At the end of the tour, students were taken to Appartamenti Reali--the living quarters of the Medici family members. They also viewed the Boboli Gardens where one can get a wonderful view of Florence.