The last time we were in Florence (fifteen years ago) one of the highlights was visiting the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, so we knew we had to revisit.
The Palazzo Pitti is just across the River Arno. It was originally built (from 1457) for the banker Luca Pitti and was an attempt to out-rival the Medici family in its display of wealth and power. However, the building costs eventually bankrupted the Pitti heirs, and the Medicis bought it and made it their main residence from 1550.
People think bankers are wealthy today…but I doubt even the richest on Wall Street would attempt a residential building project on this scale today.
We were fortunate to have a ‘local’ guide with us, as The Poolboy’s cousin lives reasonably nearby in Italy. He met us for a fantastic lunch in a restaurant we would never have found on our own, and then accompanied us to the Palazzo and Gardens.
Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside (although that didn’t seem to stop some tourists) so you’ll just have to take my word for it that this place is opulent on a grand scale, and contains so many artworks your brain goes into a kind of meltdown.
There is also a fabulous Costume Gallery on the ground floor which really cleverly displays clothing/fashions through the ages, by selecting a common element (say, beading) and putting items spanning a period of several hundred years together with haute-couture from recent times. Fascinating. We could have spent even longer in there, but we were keen to also see the gardens.
The Boboli Gardens were laid out for the Medici after they bought the digs, and are an excellent example of Renaissance landscaping.
There are great views back over Florence from the higher parts.
And there are numerous grottoes, including this one. I’ve never quite understood the point of a grotto – a kind of fake cave, in your garden. No stranger than a fake pond, I guess.