I have walked past this imposing Renaissance palazzo for many years, paying little heed to what, at the time, I thought was just another historic building in Florence. Talk about being wrong!
The Palazzo Davanzati is now a gorgeous, living museum. Rooms, frescoes and furniture from the Renaissance have all been beautifully restored. What visitors experience is a sense of being in a wealthy Florentine family’s home and come to better understand how those families lived.
The Palace was built by the Davizzi family in 1365. The property passed through various family members. In 1578 financial difficulties required that the palazzo be sold. The Davanzati family purchased the building and it remained in their hands until the early 19th Century.
Due to the palazzo’s size, it was decided that is should best be used as apartments. This reconstruction’ caused a great deal of damage to the original structure.
In 1904, a famous Italian antiques collector, Elia Volpi, purchased and restored the entire building. He furnished the palazzo in period pieces of furniture and opened it to the public as a museum of the home . Financial challenges caused Signor Volpi to sell off the majority of the original furniture. Along came Vitale and Leopoldo Bengujat, also antique dealers, who purchased the home in 1927 and for a few years successfully operated the museum.
Financial ruin eventually faced the Bengujat brothers and, in 1940, the museum was sold to the state. The basement of the structure was made in to a bomb shelter and, after the war, the palazzo languished, nearly forgotten.
In 1951, the building was purchased by the Italian government and, in 1956, a new refurnished and restored palazzo was again opened to the public. In April of 2010, the museum was reopened to much fanfare, having been completed renovated, renewed and restored.
The Palazzo – Exterior
The exterior of the building has undergone numerous changes. The original arched loggia that was at the ground level of the building and used as a store, was closed in during the late 15th Century. In the 16th century, the owners enclosed the top level and formed a lovely arched private loggia for the family’s use.
The Palazzo – Interior
You enter the palazzo at the street level into a lovely open atrium. The four upper floors have open walkways and balconies which permit visitors to view down into the small courtyard of the palazzo. The construction of the home is true to the time of its original occupation with terracotta used in the ceilings to support the upper floors and many beautiful frescoes on the walls.
The most beautiful rooms are the Sala dei Pappagalli (The Parrot Room) and the Bedroom with scenes of the life of the Lady of Vergi.
IF YOU GO:
Via Porta Rossa, 13 50123 Florence, Italy
Entrance Tickets: Euro 4.00 per person
Monday – Sunday, 8:15AM to- 1:50PM
Closed the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month
Closed the 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of the month
Please note that as of this writing, those requiring a wheel chair or who cannot climb stairs will find that they only have access to the ground floor of the palazzo.