The House of Petrarch in Arquà Petrarca
The house where Francesco Petrarch spent his final days has been preserved as it once was, with personal objects and heirlooms that tell of the life of this Arezzo-born poet.
Despite having undergone considerable alterations, the House of Petrarch as we can admire it today dates back to the restoration that took place between 1919 and 1923, when the Municipality of Padua, together with the Superintendent of Monuments, had the original entrance restored and the Gothic-style windows reconstructed.
RESTORATIONS OVER TIME
The original structure was built in the 13th century. It was the author of Il Canzoniere himself who oversaw the restoration work starting in 1369, when it was donated to him by the Francesco I da Carrara, Lord of Padua.
What has remained unchanged over the centuries is the evocative power commanded by the house and the landscape, once admired by the poet, stretching out before it.
Among other changes, Petrarch decided to add windows on the façade and made it a single residence with two units, reserving the upper floor of the building on the left-hand side for himself and his family, while the right-hand building, located above, where the main entrance was also located, was reserved for servants and amenities.
Petrarch also devoted himself to decorating his study and taking care of his garden and vegetable plot, where he liked to spend part of his days.
The study in which the poet died, with a most likely original chair and bookcase and the alcove that displays an embalmed cat, said to have belonged to the poet, have been preserved as they once were.
ALL OWNERS FROM PETRARCH TO THE PRESENT DAY
After his death in 1374, the building and its library were inherited by Petrarch’s son-in-law, Francescuolo da Brossura.
In the 16th century, Padua-born nobleman Pietro Paolo Valdezocco became its owner; it was during this period that the Renaissance-style loggia and external staircase were built and the walls were painted with tempera depicting scenes inspired by the Poet’s works: Il Canzoniere, Triumphs and Africa.
Years of neglect then followed, although the house continued to be visited by famous people, including Italian poets Alfieri and Foscolo. The property passed to the Giustinian family and other Venetian families, before being finally donated by Cardinal Silvestri to the Municipality of Padua in 1875, on the proviso that no one could live there.