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The Palazzo Pitti, in English sometimes called the Pitti Palace, is a vast, mainly Renaissance, palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions. In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919.
The palace, which houses several important museums, was built in the second half of the 15th century probably on a project of Filippo Brunelleschi for Luca Pitti, but was unfinished at his death in 1472. The original building, formed by two floors and the ground floors, with only five windows on each tloor, was purchased in 1550 by Eleonora da Toledo, the wife of the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’Medici, thus becoming the official residence of the family. For this reason it was widened and changed, in 1560 by Bartolomeo Ammannati and at the beginning of the 17th century by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi.
Museums of Florence
Purchased in 1550, the Palace was chosen by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleanor of Toledo as the new Grand Ducal residence, and it soon became the new symbol of the Medici’s power over Tuscany. It was also the royal palace of other two dynasties: the House of Lorraine-Habsburg (which succeeded the Medici from 1737) and the Kings of Italy of the House of Savoy, who inhabited it from 1865. Nonetheless the palace still bears the name of its first owner, the Florentine banker Luca Pitti that in the mid-1400s started its construction – maybe after a design by Brunelleschi – at the foot of the Boboli hill beyond the Arno river.