Daily Life in a Mediaeval Florentine Palazzo

A trip from Bagni di Lucca to see a show in Florence should, of course, always be combined with other activities to make a proper day of it in the “City of the Lily”. The weather was not brilliant when we went there and a walk-about, window-shopping and people-watching, was combined with a visit to three museums and some churches. Florence museums, indeed Italian museums in general, are quite compact and it’s possible to visit most of them comfortably within a couple of hours each.

We took in three of Florence’s lesser-known museums. These were

  • The museo della casa fiorentina antica
  • The museo del palazzo vecchio (Florence’s city council palace)
  • The museo scientifico Galileo Galilei (Science museum)

If one wants to see how aristocratic families lived in mediaeval and early renaissance Florence then the palazzo Davanzati, which houses the Museo della Casa Fiorentina, is an absolute must. It’s very well presented and its rooms are not just beautifully decorated but also full of interesting paintings, sculptures, furniture and household items.

For a long time the palazzo was under restoration. It partly re-opened in 2005, and fully so in 2009.

The building is centrered around a (now glassed in) spectacular courtyard. I particularly liked the drainpipe…

The living quarters are distributed on three floors. The highlight of each floor is a large hall (Sala madornale) which could be used for dining or dancing.

Each floor also has a bedroom with en-suite bathroom and fitted cupboards:

Each bedroom also has gorgeous wall frescoes imitating tapestries giving an excellent idea of how Florentine palazzi interiors were once decorated. The rooms are named after their decoration. There is the “parrot” room and the “peacock” room:

The most beautifully decorated room is a bedroom illustrating the bloodthirsty story of the chatelaine of Vergy – presumably to instil the virtues of faithfulness in the spouse! (If you don’t know the story, which was very popular in mediaeval times, click on


The kitchen is on the top floor; a very sensible idea since it meant that cookery smells didn’t have to rise up from below.

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On various walls are fascinating medieval graffiti:

There is also an exquisite lace display section.

The works of art are not incredibly special but they all fit in most harmoniously in the museum’s setting. I did, however, find some items rather beautiful.

This was a lovely start to our brief visit to Florence. We should be grateful to the antiquarian Elia Volpi who purchased and restored the Palazzo Davanzati and allowed it to be open to the public way back in 1910.

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The museum’s web site is at: http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/musei/?m=davanzati

There is also a post on the museum by Debra Kolkka at







6 thoughts on “Daily Life in a Mediaeval Florentine Palazzo

  1. I love this place and go often when I am in Florence. How did you manage the photos, there are some officious guards who don’t allow cameras. I do admit that I sneaked a few for the post I did on it.

  2. This is truly one of my favourite museums it is so wonderfully restored I would have
    loved to have lived in such an impressive Florentine Home the murals or frescoes are so very fresh looking as if they had just been painted I would never tire of these surroundings although I am not so sure of the practicalities of a top floor kitchen poor cook had surely her or his work truly cut out imagine the to do in such circumstances but we can only dream about such a wonderful home maybe we could recreate a smaller one as can you imagine the jheating and wood pile needed to keep such vast rooms warm I get exhausted with stacking our humble woodpile for our humble abode imagine the vast amount of energy needed but then in those days we would have possibly had staff to help us unlike today no such luck! The angle of the photos are great nd they do remind me of Esher.

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