Palazzo Davanzati
or the Ancient Florentine Home
Museum's plan
Bedroom of the landlady,
decorated with frescoes depicting the legend of Chatelaine of Viergy


The Palace, built by the Davizzi family around mid-14th century, was purchased in 1578 by the Davanzati family (their coat of arms is still visible on the facade) and remained in their possession until 1838, when it was divided into several flats and suffered severe damage.

In 1904 it was purchased and restored by the antique dealer Elia Volpi, who entirely furnished it and opened it to the public in 1910 as Museum of the Old Florentine House. After alternate events, which comprised also the dispersion of the furniture pieces, the palace was purchased in 1951 by the State that reorganised it and opened it once more to the public in 1956.

Its most important feature is the architectural structure that represents an interesting example of 13th century home showing the transition stage from the medieval tower house to the Renaissance building. The original facade was decorated with a three-arch loggia, now closed that was once open and used as a shop. A 16th century loggia replaces the usual medieval battlements at the top of the building.

The interior, which also has an underground gallery, has a suggestive courtyard on the ground floor that gives access to the stone and wood staircase with rampant arches leading up to the four upper floors. The arrangement of the building shows that the rooms of the first floor have the same layout of those on the third floor. Rooms are articulated in a "madornale", that is a large audience hall, dining rooms, bedrooms and "agiamenti" (toilets), a rarity in elegant houses of the period. All the rooms have floors in cotto and ceilings in wood, some of which decorated with paintings. The walls of some of the rooms are decorated with frescoes and decorations that are quite popular in Florentine 13th century homes, representing curtains and coat of arms. 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.

The present arrangement of the Museum aims at reconstructing the setting of an old Florentine home, with furniture and household tools from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Bedrooms display for instance chests full of linen and cots, while the audience hall on the first floor exhibits a rare painted cabinet, created by a Siennese artist of the 16th century, and the wooden painting showing The Game of Civettino by Giovanni di Ser Giovanni nicknamed "Scheggia" dating back to the 15th century and the marble bust of a Child by Antonio Rossellino, also dating back to the 15th century. The museum also preserves a very fine collection of old ceramics and the 17th century hand warmers in the shape of shoes.

A very important document in the story of the family and palace is the Genealogical tree of the Davanzati Family, a work by an anonymous Tuscan painter of the 17th century. The State has recently purchased a rare wooden chest or throne-bed" with inlaid front and headboard, rnanufactured in the Tuscan-Umbran area during the last quarter of the 15th century.

The kitchen on third floor exhibits furniture and ordinaly daily household, together with working tools, like looms, warping machines and spinning wheels that document some of the activities carried out in the house.

The Museum also displays a very fine collection of lacework ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries and samplers.


The adventures of the Burgundy Chatelaine and of William Cavalier (the Knight), their thwarted love, the jaleous and cruel love of the "Duchess of Burgundy" quickly enteres all foreign literatures. The story of the Dame de Virgy was translated in English, German, Dutch but it was in Italy that became incredibly famous.

The Duke of Burgundy goes hunting and his wife the Duchess invites to the castle William Cavalier for palying chess. She tries to seduce him but in vain because he is secretly in love with the Chatelaine de Virgy.
The Duchess, refused by the young knight, is very offended and when her husband comes back she accuses the knight of having tried to seduce her. The Duke convenes William who, to prove his innocence, invites him to observe them when alone with the Duchess and pretends to be in love with her.
The very angry Duke would like to punish his wife but she not only manages to calm him down, going to bed with him (you actually see the topless Duchess in bed with him!) but she even manages to be told whom William is in love with!
The wicked woman organises a big party for all the very important people of the region and during it she tells everyone that the Chatelaine and William Cavalier are lovers.
For shame the Chatelaine kills herself with a sword. William does the same, seeing his beloved dead and the Duke punishes the Duchess slashing her throat.

The Palace, built by the Davizzi family
around mid-14th century
The Palace
Front elevation
The courtyard
The courtyard
Master room
Audience room
Master room
Master room - table 19th century
Parrot Room
Peacock Room

The decorative frieze on the walls displays a series of coat-of-arms
of Florentine families tied to the Davizzi family, and royal, civic
and ecclesiastic heraldic devices.
On the corbels supporting the beamed ceiling are the
coat-of-arms of the Davizzi and the Strozzi.
Impannata Room
Water closet
Peacock room - cradle
Antonio Rossellino
Bust of young boy

Bedroom of the landlady
Frescoes depicting the legend of Chatelaine of Viergy

Bedroom of the landlady
Frescoes depicting the legend of Chatelaine of Viergy
Genealogical tree of the Davanzati Family
Work by an anonymous Tuscan painter
Peacock Room
Madonna and Child - 15th century

Giovanni di Ser Giovanni (Nickname Lo Scheggia)
Il giocco del Civettino (Game of Little Owl)
This bizarre and violent game was between two contenders in the Renaissance.
Blocking with their feet the opponent's foot, the contenders exchanged strong slaps.

The Holy Family
Madonna and Child
Filippo Brunelleschi
Madonna and Child
Bust of a Holy
Small statuette of St. John the Baptist
15th century chest - Detail
Up to 17th century there were no armoires,
clothes were stowed in trunks.
Safe deposit
In Florence until the 18th century
there was still in every house a small image of Our Lady.
Case with old porcelain
Hidden Italy * Bettina Röhrig * Logebachstr. 5 * D-53639 Königswinter * Germany