While Italy is home to many of the world’s greatest art museums, where names like Michelangelo, Botticelli and more are par for the course, it also has many smaller museums that vie for the attuned traveler’s attention. Not surprisingly, most (but not all) are found in the Big Three, Rome, Florence and Venice.
5 Fab Italian House Museums:
1. The Keats-Shelley House, Rome
Rome, The Eternal City, is rich with European literary heritage, and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the famous Keats-Shelley House, located at the even more famous Spanish Steps. In addition to being the final home of English Romantic poet John Keats, the picturesque house is dedicated to the life of the great Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum collection includes paintings, manuscripts and other literary relics, including those relating to Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde.
2. Palazzo Davanzati, Florence
The Palazzo Davanzati is a true Italian house-museum in that it aims to portray an aristocratic Florentine home as it appeared throughout history. The Davizzi family was the first to live here, back in the mid-14th century, with the Davanzatis snapping up the tall (for the time) property in 1578. Medieval in aspect, the top actually features a 16th-century Renaissance loggia. Inside, there are original furnishings and frescoes, as well as the fancifully decorated Sala dei Pappagalli (Parrot Room).
3. Ca’Rezzonico, Venice
The subtitle to this spectacular house museum is “museum of 18th-century Venice.” Behind its white marble façade, facing the Grand Canal, lies one of the true “hidden gem” museums of Italy. The building into which the wealthy Rezzonicos moved around 1758 had been two separate houses that had fallen into some disrepair, but as visitors can see today, the restoration they bankrolled was glorious. From the Tiepolo frescoes and Flemish tapestries to evocative portraits of well-heeled Venetians of yore by Pietro Longhi, and so much more, this is one house that’s hard to not fall in love with.
4. Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, Milan
Here’s a house museum few may have heard of, but it makes for a very interesting detour in Milan nonetheless. In 1883 the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi had a new façade built for their palazzo, located between Via Santo Spirito and Via Gesù, in the heart of Milan. Inspired by 16th-century Lombard aristocratic tradition, they set about furnishing their noble premises with Renaissance artifacts of glass, ivory, majolica, and precious metals. Today you can view the palazzo and its elegant contents pretty much as the brothers left it – a true house museum.
5. Enzo Ferrari House Museum, Modena
This museum is about a hundred miles south of Milan and features a sweeping metal roof meant to resemble – you guessed it — the hood of a Ferrari. Appropriately enough, the museum includes both birthplace and childhood home of the founder of the Ferrari race car company. But it’s the vast collection Ferraris, as well as Maseratis and Alfa Romeos, that really steal the show. The place represents a true marriage of the classic and futuristic, Italian-style – don’t miss it.
Which one of these Museum Houses would you visit? Make sure to let us know in the comments!