As the Medici consolidated their power in Florence, they made a point of confiscating or buying up the most important properties of their former rivals, especially their family palaces. The most spectacular example of this was the Grand Duchess Eleanor’s acquisition in 1549 of the Palazzo Pitti, built in 1457 by a banker named Luca Pitti, an influential part of the Medici machine who occasionally had vague ambitions of toppling the Medici and becoming the big boss himself. With its extensive grounds, now the Boboli Gardens, the palace was much more pleasant than the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, and at Eleanor’s insistence she and Cosimo I moved in there for good.
The palace remained the residence of the Medici, and later the House of Lorraine, until 1868. The original building, probably designed by Brunelleschi, was only as wide as the seven central windows of the façade. Succeeding generations found it too small for their burgeoning hoards of bric-a-brac, and added several stages of symmetrical additions, resulting in a long bulky profile, resembling a rusticated Stalinist ministry.
Images by PD Art, Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License