by Melinda Gallo

Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

I walked to via Porta Rossa, near the Mercato Nuovo, to visit a noble family's 14th century palazzo (palace), the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati. Dave and I generally walk right past the palazzo on our way to the Odeon movie theaters, but we never stopped by for a visit. It's not that noticeable as it looks like many of the other palazzi in Florence.

Living in Florence :: Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

It still bears the Davanzati name, even though it was lived in by other families beforehand and then bought by the State about 55 years ago, most likely because its coat-of-arms is on the outside of the building and the Davanzati were the last family to live inside.

I had read about the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati on-line, but one website said that it was closed for restoration. I walked through the double-glass doors and peeked into a typical museum-type room with a few beautiful pieces of art and home furnishings, like a wood carved cassone (chest) and an elaborately painted family tree, on display.

I was again the only one in the museo (museum). The two women who were working there were huddled around an electrical radiator in the internal cortile (courtyard). I asked them if I could go upstairs and the younger woman said, "S ma solo al primo piano" (Yes, but only to the first floor).

I walked up the softly-lit staircase and walked into a large room. I told the younger woman who followed me upstairs that the website said that the museum was still closed for restoration. "Il primo piano aperto da maggio dell'anno scorso, ma gli altri piani supeririori sono ancora chiusi per ora" (The first floor has been open since May of last year, but the upper floors are closed at this time) she told me.

I could hear a few men upstairs yelling to each other about shutting off the water. I peered up and saw that there were at least two to three more floors above. At the top there appeared to be a glass ceiling as sunlight streamed into the building and down to the cortile below.

I walked into a room, which is where I took the picture shown here, and was amazed at the ornately painted walls. Many pieces of antique furniture were on display, which really allowed me to imagine what this palazzo was like back in the 14th century. I loved the pavimento in cotto e i soffitti di legno (terracotta tile floor and ceiling with carved wooden beams) as well.

I enjoyed my visit to the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati so much that I can't wait to return once they open up the upper floors and the loggia (lodge). It would be a wonderful treat to see the entire palazzo in its entirety.

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