Originally built by a banker, the Pitti Palace was purchased in 1549 by Eleanor of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo de’Medici, then Duke of Florence. The purchase of the palace accorded with Medici ambitions to transform themselves into aristocrats. In 1569 Cosimo became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany; his son and successor Francesco married the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Palace’s location on what was then the edge of the city enabled Eleanor and her architects, who included Niccolò Tribolo, Bartolommeo Ammannati, and Giorgio Vasari, to build the Boboli garden, which ascends up the hill behind the palace. Along with Ammannati’s Cortile, at the back of the original building, this provided outdoor spaces for court festivities and for an important sculpture collection as well as for informal socializing in a protected setting at a time when assassination was rightly feared.
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Image by Stefan Bauer, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.