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Casa Guidi, Florence
Photo © Carlo Cantini
Photo © Carlo Cantini

Casa Guidi


The Florentine home of English poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barret Browning, turned into a museum

On the first floor of Palazzo Guidi in Piazza San Felice in Florence, is the house rented in 1847 by the spouses Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barret Browning, famous English couple of poets. Robert and Elizabeth lived in Florence for a long time, contributing to foster the romantic myth of the city: there, they wrote some of their most famous poems, they married in secret (because of her father’s objection), they gave birth to their son Pen. It’s exactly in Florence, in the English Cemetery that Elizabeth was buried when she died, in 1861. After his wife’s death, Robert left Florence. Their house is now the “Casa Guidi” museum, name that Elizabeth herself had given to the house.

The Browning spent two years furnishing the almost ten rooms of the house: most of the paintings and other pieces of furniture, both simple and functionals, were found at Florentine secondhand dealers; some refined pieces, such as the gold-plated mirror in the living room, were purchased at great expense.

The current aspect of the apartment is not the original one, but is a reconstruction based on photographs and descriptions of the time; however, some pieces of furniture are the original ones. The atmosphere that was decided to be preserved is that of a "living" apartment, not a museum.

The rooms that are open to the public are the dining room, the bedroom, the living room and Robert’s studio. The walls and ceilings in the living room and in the bedroom, as well as the ceiling in the studio of the poet were renovated in the original colors of that time. All the doors and fireplaces are original.

After Elizabeth's death, the City of Florence placed a plaque above the entrance with an inscription composed by Niccolò Tommaseo:

"Here wrote and died
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Who in her woman’s heart reconciled
scholar’s learning and poet’s spirit
And whose poems forged a golden ring
between Italy and England
lays this memorial
grateful Florence

A second plaque, bearing some of the poet's verses, is located on Via Mazzetta.

Since 1995, the museum has been managed by the Landmark Trust, a British nonprofit organization that not only preserves historic buildings but also rents them out, reinvesting the proceeds in their maintenance work.

Casa Guidi is open to the public from the beginning of April until the end of November.

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