Monday, June 27, 2016

How the Other Half Lived


This bed in the private quarters of the Pitti Palace is gorgeous, but tiny.
Since the Pitti Palace is just around the corner from my flat, I've taken to dropping in several times a week. It feels like visiting an old friend.


Surely the most boring job in the world is having to say, over and over again, "No flash allowed.""
That's why I was dismayed yesterday to discover that my particular goal of visiting the kitchen (tours are given four times a day) was in jeopardy. Luckily the docent took pity on me and gave me a private tour!
This bedroom is just a tad over the top.
This palace has been a popular bit of real estate. The banker, Luca Pitti, built it in the mid 1400s, but had to sell it after the stock market crashed or whatever the equivalent was at the time.

It was then that things became quite interesting. Eleanor, who was married to one of the ruling Medici men, Cosimo I, didn't like the Palazzo Vecchio area. Even though The David was guarding the entrance to her palace (The original was eventually moved to the Accademia Museum and a copy now marks the entrance.), she felt the air on that side of the river wasn't healthy.

Cosimo I, wanting to appear as though he'd married a rich woman, secretly gave Eleanor the cash to buy the Pitti, and she did so in 1550. (A woman in the States couldn't get a credit card in her name until 1970, but this woman got to buy a whole palace almost 500 years ago!) Anyway, Eleanor's belief that the air near the Palazzo Vecchio wasn't healthy proved prophetic as she died before she got to step foot in the castle she "bought."
A bit of the Vasari Corridor is visible at the very back of this photo.
Still, the palace was the home of one Medici after another for a couple hundred years. An enclosed Vasari Corridor was constructed high above the hoi polloi so residents of the palace could reach the Palazzo Vecchio by going through the Uffizi Gallery. In this way the ruling Medici family avoided the rain and would-be assassins.

They've got got a few kitchens in the Palace: there's a private one for the owners, one for the children, and this one that I was about to see.

This main kitchen was the place where all meals were prepared for the staff and the family. Interestingly, there was no dining room as people then simply ate wherever it was convenient.

A huge walk-in fireplace was flanked by these smaller grilling areas.
 And there were enough measuring devices to satisfy any chef as well
as many molds to form elaborate desserts.

Still, as wonderful as this spacious kitchen would be to cook in, there's no escaping the inevitable cleaning up. No dishwasher meant plates and cutlery were cleaned the old-fashioned way.

Practicalities -
     Since I bought the Amici Degli Uffizi card for €60 when I arrived, I have unlimited visits to the Uffizi and Pitti Palace Museums until December 31. You can purchase this on-line well in advance of your visit or buy it from the office (door 2) at the Uffizi Museum.
     Free tours of the kitchen are currently offered daily at 10:30, 11:30, 3:30 and 4:30.

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