Casa del Petrarca at Arquà Petrarca
The Petrarca’s House, Casa del Petrarca, is a necessary step for those who want to visit the Euganean Hills. In 1369 Francesco Petrarca decided to move to the country of Arquà, maybe because the place reminded him of the Tuscan landscape so dear to him, and here he spent the last years of his life in a peaceful and quiet environment. The original building seems to have been given to the poet by his friend Francesco I da Carrara, lord of Padua. Petrarch decided to personally take care of the renovation of the house: the lower part (dominicale) was designed for himself and his family, while the upper part (rustico) was used by the servants. The poet dedicated to the embellishment of his office to the care of the garden and the brolo; in this vegetable garden Petrarch loved to spend most of his days. After his death, which occurred in 1374, the building and its library were inherited from the beloved son in law Francescuolo da Brossura. Subsequently the property passed to the Giustiniani family and other families of Venice, to be finally given by Cardinal Silvestri to the Municipality of Padua in 1875, with the proviso of not granting anyone to live there. The most significant changes were made to the property in the mid- sixteenth century by the then owner Paolo Valdezocco, who wanted to make it a museum of Petrarch relics and testimonies. Were added a small balcony and external staircase for access to the first floor – in the mistaken belief that it was the most suitable residence for the great poet and his family – making changes also to the distribution of the interior spaces. The same Valdezocco commissioned the celebratory frescoes depicting the life and the content of some of the works of the poet. The decoration of the central hall depicts scenes inspired by the compositions of the Canzoniere, while the Africa room evokes African the deeds of Scipio Africanus contained in the Latin epic poem titled “Africa”, the bedroom called “Venus” instead takes its name from the goddess here pictured next to the god Vulcan forging the arrows of Cupid. Between 1906 and 1985 a number of conservative restorations were implemented by the Municipality of Padua, who have helped to make the site accessible to a growing number of visitors. Already in the late medieval period the house was a place of pilgrimage for poets and admirers, motivated by the so-called Petrarchan fashion. The phenomenon of Petrarchism spread at the beginning of the sixteenth century thanks to the work of the distinguished scholar and Cardinal Pietro Bembo, who considered Petrarch in poetry and Boccaccio in prose as models of perfection of Italian literature. The current museum exhibition on the first floor includes the following sections: “The House of Petrarch”, ” Iconography of Petrarch and Laura”, “Arquà and the surrounding area”, “The tomb of Petrarch”, “The Myth of the House: the visitor logs”, “The Myth of the House: the relics and commemorative medals”. On the ground floor, however, is exposed a photographic exhibition that illustrates the main stages of the life of Petrarch, itineraries and holidays spent in the Veneto Region.