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Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Piazza Pitti
Italy's insider take:

This enormous 15th-century palace was built for wealthy banker Luca Pitti as a poke in the eye to the Medici; less than a century later, his impoverished family was forced to sell the place to their rivals. The Palazzo contains a number of separate museums, some of which have a decidedly niche appeal (anyone for the Porcelain Museum?). If time is limited, head straight for the Galleria Palatina, a series of lavish, frescoed rooms where Grand Duke Cosimo I's collection of 15th- to 17th-century paintings are hung floor to ceiling on damask walls. Don't miss Lippi's Tondo of the Madonna and Child or Raphael's Holy Family or his Madonna della Seggiola. But there is a lot more besides, including paintings by Titian, Van Dyke, Rubens, Velázquez, Perugino, and Caravaggio. Of the other museums, the Museo degli Argenti is probably the most worthwhile: It's not just silver but a whole range of luxe objets commissioned by a family anxious to show off its wealth in gewgaws made of rock crystal, lapis lazuli, and ostrich eggs. Behind the palace, you'll find Giardino Di Boboli.

Galleria Palatina & Appartamenti Reali
Tel: 39 055 238 8611
Open April through December, Tuesday through Saturday 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. Closed January, February, and March, open by appointment only (Firenze Musei; 055 294 883).

Museo degli Argenti
Tel: 39 055 238 8709
Open November through February 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; March 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; April, May, September, October 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily; June to August 8:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.

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