Just down the street from my favorite street market in Florence (Mercato Nuovo) is a lovely, although unassuming, building which I was trying to locate. It seemed to be hiding in plain sight, and I walked past it several times. I suppose after a few luxurious days in Florence, I had grown accustomed to buildings adorned with iron torch holders and horse tethering rings, as many are in this time-capsule area of the city.
I was just about to ask for directions (not always productive in Italy, I’ve found) when there appeared in front of me Via Porta Rossa 13: Palazzo Davanzati, home to the the Museo dell’Antica Casa Fiorentina. Leaving behind the busy Florentine streets, I stepped through the palazzo’s open porta (door) and into Renaissance Florence.
“You had me at hello,” was my first thought as I entered the airy and light indoor courtyard. Cool and peaceful, colorful yet simple and elegant. My crush on Florence intensifies.
Opened in the early 1900s, the museum “illustrates the comforts of the noble family that lived in Palazzo Davanzati, a magnificent and singular example of a medieval Florentine house.” (Museum Website) With entrance being only two euros, or free with a Firenze Card, I highly recommend saving some time to wander the floors of this Renaissance home. If you are traveling with kids, I believe they would enjoy questo museo (this museum) as well. You can stop here on your way to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, which my young traveler loved a few years back.
Palazzo Davanzati was home to the wealthy Davizzi family, who made their fortune, like many other Renaissance families, as merchants and bankers. In the late 1500s, the home was purchased by the Davanzati family, who occupied it until the mid 1800s. “In 1904 the Palazzo was purchased by the great antiquarian Elia Volpi, who then opened it as the Museo dell’antica casa fiorentina, a stunning example of the exquisitely “Florentine” taste much sought-after by both Italians and foreigners.”
Above: I love the elegance and simplicity of the Renaissance bedroom (camera da letto). The bedroom of married folk would have contained un cassone — a wedding chest– which a bride would fill with the clothing for her new home and life –religious artwork and colorful walls.
Below: Situated between two bedrooms is a Renaissance “Jack and Jill” bathroom!
Below: At first glance of walls in a couple of different rooms, I was horrified to find pencil drawings marring the beauty of this palazzo. Who would do such a thing? I wondered, a bit appalled. But soon enough my horror turned into delight, when I realized that what I was seeing was the cartone, the sketches that Renaissance artists would draw before finalizing their work with paint.
With so much art and architechtural history in Florence, Palazzo Davanzati offers a different perspective in history-rich Florence. Interested in reading more? I recommend these posts by ArtTrav (art history perspective) and Visit Florence.
Planning a trip to Italy soon or dreaming about a past trip? Share some of your favorites spots in the comments!