We are in Florence, Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance.
More precisely inside the majestic Palazzo Pitti.
The Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments occupy the entire first floor of Palazzo Pitti, which was the residence of the Medici dynasty, then of Habsburg-Lorraine one and lastly of the House of Savoy, hosting the King of Italy from 1860 to 1919.
The lavish Gallery was founded between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century by the Habsburg-Lorraine family, who hung about 500 masterpieces in the ceremonial rooms chosen from the main Medici’s collections.
The impressive selection includes the largest concentration of paintings by Raffaello in the world, as well as invaluable works by Tiziano, Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Rubens.
The gallery begins with the Anticamera degli Staffieri, where most of the statues that used to decorate the garden and the Medici villa on the Pincio in Rome are assembled and here placed at the end of the 18th century.
The paintings in their lavish frames entirely cover the walls of the rooms, resembling an album full of stamps; all enriched by sculptures, vases and tables with semi-precious stone inlays, typical of 17th-century galleries.
Each room has a predominant color, from sage green to ruby red and cream white. Walking through them will take you on whole new dimension.
Some of the most important rooms, from an historical and artistic point of view, are the Music Room decorated and furnished in a neo-classic style; the Putti Room entirely dedicated to Flemish painting and the Stove Room, a masterpiece by Pietro da Cortona who painted it in 1637 with the Four Ages of Man, commissioned by the Medici, which represented the inauguration of the Baroque season for the Florentine painting school.
Every room contains a mythological scene decorating the vaulted ceilings which celebrate Ferdinando II’s rise to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
In many of them marvelous chandeliers hang from the frescoed ceilings in the center of the room, completing the scene.
The Prince is symbolically represented in the frescoes as Hercules.
Moving between rooms visitors retrace idealised moments of a sovereign’s life.
Exploring the Gallery you can also access to a monumental staircase started by Pasquale Poccianti in 1831 and interrupted in 1835, without ever being touched again.
Only in 1892 the staircase was redesigned by Luigi del Moro and completed in 1897. The hall hosts the basin of a fountain from the Villa di Castello, an important sculptural masterpiece attributed to Antonio Rossellino and Benedetto da Maiano with subsequent interventions and remakes.