The courtyard of Palazzo Pitti was built in 1560s by Bartolomeo Ammannati, The architect and his equipe employed many years to excavate part of the actual Boboli garden to obtain the stone they needed to erect the courtyard. Did you know that all this area was a quarry of pietraforte, one of the typical Florentine stones? As you can notice in the photo below, the structure added by Ammannati nestles in the middle of the garden. In fact Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello museum all the most important palaces belongign to the aristocratic Florentine families and even Palazzo Medici, the prototype of Renaissance architecture, are made of pietraforte.It is a yellow-brown stone stronger than the pietraserena (the Uffizi for example were built with pietraserena) because it contains iron.
A lot of workers helped Bartolomeo Ammannati and a lot of animals too! A mule carried and moved stones from the quarry to the building site for thirty years. The tireless animal died here; for this reason the chisel Filippo Larini, dedicated a memorial plaque to the animal. The marble decoration is situated on the left part of the courtyard: on the bas-relief we can notice the mule in the foreground; behind the animal a pulley is on the right and a chisel is on the left. A latin inscription remembers all the time the animal spent in the quarry working hardly. It is quite difficult find inscriptions refering to animals in Florence!
On the left the plaque dedicated to the mule decorated with a "stiacciato" (= a very bas-relief) marble technique.
On the right the courtyard of Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli garden behind