Locals and regular visitors often complain of the negative impact which large tourist groups have on the Tuscan capital, especially in the summer months when the weather is fine and demand is at its highest. However, an autumnal trip can often be the perfect time to go for art lovers and connoisseurs who want to avoid the crowds and absorb the aesthetic charms of a city with an open heart.
One building which is always recommended for an architectural taste of old Florence is the luxurious and hugely impressive Palazzo Davanzati, now a museum owned by Polo Museale Fiorentino, also in charge of Galleria Palatina and Degli Uffizi, as well as numerous other famous museums in the Florence district.
The Palazzo Davanzati is one of Florence’s very few, and thus extremely precious, remaining medieval mansions still standing after the demolitions which ripped through the city centre at the end of the nineteenth century. Its value is as much in its historical lessoning as in its architectural beauty – which it has in spades.
Its structure represents the meeting point between a large medieval tower structure and a Renaissance palazzo building. The façade from the outside indicates the division and distribution of the building’s parts. Split into five floors, the ground floor has three large arches, originally opening right out onto the street, and three medium-sized floors above it, followed by a loggia at the top.
The palazzo is over 600 years old. It was built in the 14th century by the Davizzi, a family of merchants, and sold in 1516 to another family before being rented to a magistrate. During this period a roof terrace was constructed which replaced the original battlements onto which it was formerly built.
In 1578 the palazzo was purchased by Bernardo Davanzati, from whom the building now takes its name, another merchant and well-known intellectual in the Florentine community.
In 1951, the building was purchased by the Italian state and began its journey towards being a museum. Its renovation is ongoing, but this does little to affect the enjoyment of its surroundings and architectural features. The interior of the building is as impressive and interesting as the exterior, housing art and furniture from the period, as well as further insights into the way of life at this time.
The museum is free to visit and is located on the Via Porta Rossa 13 – but most important to know are its opening hours, which are a little strange. Opening its doors at 8.15am, you can only visit until 1.30pm, so make sure you have plans for lunch afterwards – there is a bevy of delightful restaurants and cafes in the area, and all will be ready for the 2pm lunch slot after a visit. Check the website for further details on hours and any holiday closures.
Information provided to you by NetJets Europe (www.netjetseurope.com).
– Ricardo Gato
Digital & Direct Marketing Executive , NetJets Europe