Born in Abruzzo, Palizzi moved to Naples in 1837 and enrolled at the Royal Institute of Fine Arts, but withdrew after a few months to attend the private school of the painter Giuseppe Bonolis. In 1839 he exhibited for the first time a painting in the biennial exhibition at the Reale Museo Borbonico, an Animal Study. On October 25, 1842 he embarked on his first trip abroad, up to Gala?i, in Asia Minor, called by Prince Maronsi to teach his son painting. After two years Filippo returned to Naples. His brother Giuseppe, who was also a painter, who moved to France in 1844, introduced him to the works of the Barbizon School. Filippo visited Paris on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in 1855 and then went on to the Netherlands. Having returned to Paris in 1863, he concentrated on nature studies from life and took part in the Universal Exhibition of 1867, winning a gold medal. The following decade saw further work on the handling of light both in landscapes painted outdoors and in paintings of interiors. He often painted genre scenes of children with animals.
An advocate of the need to bring academic teaching up to date, he founded the Naples Società Promotrice di Belle Arti in 1861 together with Domenico Morelli and the Museo Artistico Industriale in 1878, being appointed director two years later. Filippo Palizzi was named commendatore of the Order of the Crown of Italy and of the Austrian Order of Franz Joseph, and honorary Associate of numerous Academies. His brothers Francesco Paolo (1825-1871), Giuseppe (1812-1888), and Nicola Palizzi (1820-1877) were also painters