Palazzo Davanzati


Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 8:15am-1:30pm.

Closing days: second and fourth Sunday of the month and first, third and fifth Monday of the month, January 1, May 1, Christmas Day.

Admission: € 2.00.
Concessions available.


Palazzo Davanzati is a wonderful and unique example of a typical wealthy medieval residence that was later, “upgraded” and developed in the Renaissance, combining ideals of both types of architecture. The ground floor houses the loggia, once open air, which was handy for storage, business transactions or even commercial use (the Davizzi family who originally commissioned the building were merchants from the wealthy cloth guild), while further into the heart of the building and the family's private space, there is an inner courtyard, open to the sky. The next floor up, the “piano nobile,” was used for business and the family's sleeping quarters (in this case, two floors worth, including the floor above), while the top floor was reserved for the kitchen and servants quarters.

Parts of the building are still undergoing restoration so some of the rooms are closed to the public from time to time. A normal visit to the palazzo-museum includes the ground floor and the first floor with the stunning and brightly-frescoed Parrot room and Peacock room. The second floor's bedchamber, study and dining room can be accessed by appointment or at 10am, 11am and 12pm each day in guided groups.

The very top floor, where the kitchen is located, is unfortunately closed to the public. You can get some idea of what the kitchen might have looked like when you see the very large fireplaces in the other rooms - a rare luxury to have heating like this in normal rooms. The fireplaces and stoves were the most important part of the kitchen, often large enough to spitroast whole animals, while soups and stews were usually cooked in large bronze, iron, copper or clay pots placed directly on the fire or hung over it.

Family meals were usually very simple, ordinarily an unpretentious meal of freshly baked bread, a stew of some sort or liver sausages, goats milk cheese and vegetables such as carrots, spinach and beetroot. Food was strongly seasoned with spices from the markets like cloves, saffron, ginger and nutmeg, with a tendency towards sweet and sour tastes by adding sugar or honey to meat dishes.

The Davanzati kitchen also has a roof terrace, later transformed into the current loggia. The glass windows that you see here may have come in around the 15th century, although earlier it was common to simply have sheets of cotton or vellum attached to window frames, oiled to allow for more transparency. The walls of wealthy 14th century palazzi were usually brightly frescoed or draped in tapestries, while the rooms were otherwise often sparsely furnished. Poor families had simpler homes: whitewashed walls, floors of uncovered stone and even rented furniture.