Your ticket includes access to the Silver Museum, the Porcelain Museum, the Costume Gallery, all three located in the sumptuous Palazzo Pitti, as well as to the attached Boboli Garden and the close-by Bardini Garden.
Located on the south side of the Arno, only minutes from the Ponte Vecchio, the vast, mainly Renaissance Pitti Palace was the residence of the Medici. The powerful Florentine family had bought it from a rich banker named Luca Pitti in 1549 and transformed it into the main residence for Grand-Duchy of Tuscany. The Medici added to the core building and transformed the Palazzo into a veritable treasure chest. Later, the palace was home to other rulers - the Lorraine family, and then finally the King of Italy when Florence was capital of Italy. Nowadays, the palace's collections and museums are fully open to the public. The palace's gardens, the Boboli, are one of the most beloved gardens in Florence, and offer vast green spaces, landscaped to perfection, as well as stunning views of Florence.
The Museum of the Grand Ducal Treasure or Silver Museum occupies twenty-five rooms of the left wing of Palazzo Pitti, chosen in 1861 as the location for the display. The core of the collection was originally preserved in Palazzo Medici in Via Larga (now Via Cavour), where Cosimo the Elder had started a rich collection of precious objects in the 15th century. His son Piero and his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent later added to this collection. Some of the most valuable objects are the vases that belonged to Lorenzo, which are considered extremely precious both historically and artistically. The present arrangement of the museum focuses both on different aspects of the grand ducal collection and on the beauty of the rooms chosen to display it in.
A secret stairway leads to the first floor, the heart of the treasure of the Museum: the Rooms of the Cameos and of the Jewels which belonged to Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici (early 18th century), who purchased precious jewels in all of Europe.
The two following rooms contain the famous Treasure of Salzburg, which was brought to Florence by Ferdinand III of Lorraine, after his return from exile following the brief Napoleonic period.
The Silver Museum also includes the Oriental Room, and Chinese and Japanese chinaware.
On the ground floor you'll also find the precious collection of ambers and the Room of the Crystals and Semi-precious stones.
Noteworthy is the great room frescoed by Giovanni da San Giovanni (1592-1636) and his assistants on the occasion of the marriage of Ferdinando II de' Medici and Vittoria della Rovere (1634), where sumptuous mythological allegories and references highlight the many aspects of the cultural and political life of the Medici under Lorenzo the Magnificent.
The Porcelain Museum, a section of the Silver Museum, is located in a separate building, the "Casino del Cavaliere." Built in the 17th century at the top of the hill that overlooks the Gardens of Boboli, it was a chosen retreat for the Grand Duke.
The collections comprise mainly porcelain tableware belonging to the royal families that ruled Tuscany (Medici, Lorraine, Savoy), thus clearly reflecting their tastes.
The museum has three rooms, in which the collection is arranged according to period, nations, and manufacturers.
There are several outstanding examples of Italian porcelain objects produced in Doccia (near Florence), which were especially used by the Grand ducal family for large services of daily use, and at the Royal Manufactory of Naples.
Fine table sets from Vienna and from the German Manufactory of Meissen are on display, as well as French porcelain from Vincennes and Sèvres, brought to Florence by the Savoy.
The oldest pieces of the collections were produced in the German Manufactory of Meissen and belonged to Gian Gastone, the last Medici Grand Duke (1671-1737).
The Costume Gallery
You'll find the Costume Gallery In the heart of Palazzo Pitti, in the small building of the Meridiana. It is the first state-operated museum dedicated entirely to study and preservation of costumes, accessories, and fabrics.
Founded in 1983 by Kristen Aschengreen Piacenti, the Costume Gallery preserves a collection of more than 6,000 items, including ancient and modern garments, accessories, and costumes for the theater and the cinema of great historical value.
The Costume Gallery is a unique museum whose center is the famous Medici collection, among the world’s oldest, made up of the burial clothes worn by Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany, his wife Eleonora de Toledo, and their son Don Garzia, all restored in the museum’s own restoration shops.
Preservation needs dictate the biennial rotation of costumes on display in the 13 exhibition rooms. This constant costume change makes the Gallery a living institution bustling with new ideas and events, and allows the public to experience “new” costumes on a regular basis.
A particular section of the Gallery hosts the fascinating Flora Wiechmann Savioli Collection, with jewelry created by the artist from 1958 to 1968. Made of steel, silver, and other “poor” metals, the pieces are all hand-worked with simple, modern, and geometric lines.
A significant place is also reserved for contemporary costume, with selected nuclei representing the greatest protagonists of international high fashion and prêt-à-porter, such as Worth, Poiret, Vionnet, Capucci, Missoni, Valentino, Pucci, Ferrè, and Yves Saint Laurent, to name only a few.
The Boboli Garden is the most popular city park, and one of the most important examples of Italian gardens in the world. The garden's architectural landscaping and collection of sculptures, ranging from Roman antiquities to the 20th century, make it a veritable outdoor museum. Discover the picturesque amphitheater, the “Ocean” and “Neptune” fountains, as well as the staircase leading to the Garden of the Knight, the Cave of Buontalenti, and a thousand other beauties – all with stunning views of the center of Florence.
It was Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I de' Medici, who bought the first part of the garden in 1550 from the Pitti family. The landscaping plans were initially created by Niccolò Pericoli called Tribolo. After his death in 1555, works were directed by Davide Fortini followed by Giorgio Vasari. Ammannati also contributed to the project between 1560 and 1583, designing the courtyard that still bears his name.
The Medici, Lorraine, and Savoy families continued to alter and enlarge the garden into the 19th century, adding meadows, groves, avenues, as well as precious works of art and landscaping features.
Pertaining to the first phase of transformation of the garden, the large semi-elliptical area known as the Amphitheater, which was later to create a harmonious whole with the two wings of Ammannati's courtyard, was dug out of a huge stone quarry at the foot of the Belvedere hill. This architectural feature serves to visually unify the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens.
Francis I called upon the help of the architect Bernardo Buontalenti, who designed the Grotta Grande after 1574. The niches at the entrance to the grotto hold the statues of Bacchus and Ceres by Baccio Bandinelli (1552-1556). Michelangelo's Prisoners stood in the corners until they were replaced with cement casts in 1924. During the early 17th century, the period of the grand duchy of Cosimo I (1609-1621), the garden was extended beyond the wall built during the war against Siena.
The “ideal” axis of the garden is the cypress avenue leading to the impressive Bacino dell'Isola (Island Basin), built between 1612 and 1620. The Vasca dell'Isola (Island Pond), one of the most evocative spaces in the garden originally intended for the cultivation of citrus fruits and flowers, was created by Giulio Parigi. A Venus fountain was originally at the centre of the pond, replaced by Ferdinand II with Giambologna's Oceanus in 1636. During that same year, the statue of Plenty, begun by Giambologna and completed by Pietro Tacca was placed in its current position.
In the 18th century, the Medici dynasty disappeared and the Grand Duchy passed to the Habsburg-Lorraine family. After an initial period of abandonment, wide-scale restoration work took place involving the sculptures, architecture, waterworks and plants. New buildings were placed in the garden including the Kaffeehaus (1775) and the Limonaia (a building for raising citrus fruits constructed from 1777-1778), designed by Zanobi del Rosso, and the Palazzina della Meridiana, begun in 1776 by Niccolò Gaspero Paoletti.
During the period of the Napoleonic rule (1799-1814), the Grand Duchess Elisa Baciocchi, younger sister of Napoleon, initiated a failed attempt to transform the Boboli into an English-style garden, the Lorraine family later restored the gardens to their original formal appearance. In 1834, under Leopoldo II, the labyrinths were destroyed to make way for a wide avenue suitable for carriages. During the 19th century, the garden provided the backdrop for spectacular open-air entertainment.
The Bardini Garden
Close to the Boboli Garden, the little-known Bardini Garden spans 4 hectares of park between the left bank of Arno river, the Montecuccoli hill and the medieval walls. It was originally a system of vegetable gardens walled-in toward Palazzo Mozzi and the hill behind. In the 18th century, Giulio Mozzi, a garden lover, enriched the property with a long wall with fountains. In the middle of the 19th century, the baroque garden was enlarged by the purchase of the neighboring anglo-chinese garden of Villa Manadora, created by Luigi Le Blanc at the beginning of the 19th century.
In the second half of the 19th century, princess Carolath Benten purchased the whole property and enriched the garden with Victorian details.
In 1913, the antique dealer Stefano Bardini purchased the complex and created a road to go up to the Villa from the Arno river, destroying the walled-up gardens of medieval origins. After the death of his son Ugo in the 1965, a long process concerning hereditary matters began, which minister Paolucci ended in 1996. In 2000, the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, through the Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron, began an almost 5 year long restoration of the complex, restituting identity, composition, and plant richness to the park.
The baroque staircase is the most impressive part of the garden, with the Belvedere over the city and the six fountains with mosaic decorations. A series of Bourbon roses and iris has been planted along the staircase. An oat grass garden and the green theater are located in the lower part. Fruit trees of Tuscan tradition have been planted in the agricultural park. A belvedere leads to a wisteria tunnel from which some 60 kinds of hydrangeas can be admired. The azaleas field is located in the English garden, where you'll also see some beautiful ferns, viburnum, camellia, and a citrus tree collection.
From Villa Bardini (only minutes from the Boboli), you can wind your way downhill through the luscious gardens, with views onto the monuments of Florence. You'll exit on the Via Bardi after 7 km (4.3 miles) in nature!