The literary history of Europe has surely shaped the thought and the society we live in. Greatest European authors, novelists and poets have played an essential role in developing the culture of the countries they belong. Dickens, Manzoni, Dostoevsky, Dante, Scott, Mann, Pessoa. All these high-sounding names of Italian and European important poets and writers are now part of our continent’s literary history. All these authors also have a very interesting story connected to their life, place and time in which they have lived and worked. Great European writers’ lovers can find out something more about these important literary people through the houses in which they have lived and written their masterpieces. Hereafter a selection of fascinating and interesting writer’s house museums in the whole Europe.
CASA DI DANTE MUSEUM
The Casa di Dante Museum is located in the heart of Florence in Tuscany, Italy, surrounded by a very evocative medieval scenario. The 3-floor museum, opened to the public in 1965, is the house where Dante was born in 1265. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was a poet, writer, philosopher and politician, one of the most important of the world and its Divina Commedia is one of the most studied and commented works, translated in many languages.
First and second floors of the building made of bricks – restored at the beginning of 20th century – hold rooms with historical objects and artifacts connected to the time when the poet of Beatrice lived. The third floor – the tower-house – holds an original copy of La Vita Nova and La Divina Commedia from the Trivulziano Codex of 1337. The Casa di Dante Museum has a great importance and it is an obliged stop for visitors who aim to find out the origins of the greatest poet ever lived.
Via Santa Margherita 1
tel. +39 055 219416
VICTOR HUGO HOUSE
The Birthplace of Victor Hugo is located on the Grand-Rue in Besançon, a picturesque city in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, France, and opened its doors in 2013 after a long-lasting restoration. Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was a French novelist, poet, dramatist and politician; he is considered one of the fathers of the Romanticism in France and wrote great masterpieces, among which Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris. The exhibition itinerary starts outside, where a Victor Hugo’s commemorative plaque is set on the 3-floor building’s façade. Inside, the bedroom in which Hugo slept in the first weeks after birth houses the original birth certificate and pictures of its parents. All the rooms hold authentic letters, artworks, quotations and personal objects belonged to the French writer. The pride and glory of the museum is a very first 1862 edition of Les Misérables, which lies in a display case.
140 Grande Rue
tel. +33 3 81 41 53 65
SIR WALTER SCOTT’S HOUSE IN ABBOTSFORD
The Abbotsford House, the ancient home belonged to Sir Walter Scott, is located in Melrose, a town in Scotland not far from the England board. Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish novelist and poet considered the father of the genre of historical novel, who wrote some masterpieces, such as Ivanhoe. Walter Scott bought the 100-acre estate in 1811 and named it Abbotsford; following, he bought further lands expanding the estate from 110 acres to 1400 within 1824 (when works finished).
However, Scott have lived in the Abbotsford House only for a year as he was struck by an economic crisis and get a mortgage on the house in 1825. The general ground plan is a parallelogram, with irregular outlines, one side overlooking the Tweed River. The building – in Scottish Baronal style – is characterized by several decorative elements, such as rocky sculptures. Inside, the house holds an Armoury, a large library and several rooms housing ancient furniture, artifacts and objects belonged to the writer.
Abbotsford, Melrose TD6 9BQ
tel.+44 1896 752043
Arquà Petrarca, Italy
The Petrarca’s House, the home where the Italian poet have lived starting from 1369, is located in Arquà Petrarca, a town near Padua, in the North of Italy. Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) was a poet, writer and philologist. Considered one of the fathers of the Humanism, he is well-known for Il Canzoniere, an important collection of 366 literary works. Arquà’s house was built in the 13th century and is characterized by two main separated units. A permanent photographic exhibition shows Petrarca’s life and a stuffed cat lying in a recess – probably belonged to the poet – are located inside the ground floor. Main attractions on the upper floor include the poet’s office with a chair and a bookcase and his bedroom – referred to as the Chamber of Venus. A unique place for people enchanted by the love story between Petrarca and his Laura.
Via Valleselle, 35032 Arquà Petrarca, Padova
tel +39 0429 718294
HOUSE OF FERNANDO PESSOA
In the heart of the attractive neighborhood of Campo de Ourique in Lisbon, Portugal, the Casa Fernando Pessoa opened its door in 1993. The 3-floor building was the home of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), an important Portuguese poet and writer well-known for Il Libro dell’Inquietudine, during the last 15 years of his life, from 1920 to 1935. The exhibition itinerary includes several rooms, among which Pessoa’s bedroom, a small room with simple furniture and interesting items: a bed, a trunk, a mannequin and a copy of its beloved hat. Other spaces display several objects belonged to the poet that illustrate his life: a pipe, a school report, a typewriter, his glasses, a notebook and original letters. The house-museum is also equipped with interesting interactive contents. Moreover, the ground floor houses a large library.
R. Coelho da Rocha 16
The House of Boccaccio is located in Certaldo, a small town not far from Florence, Italy. According to tradition, the Italian scholar lived part of his life and died in 1375 in this house-museum, which was restored in 1957 and 2007. Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was one of the greatest Italian poets and writers, well-known for the Decameron, his masterpiece.
The house-museum, headquarter of the Ente Nazionale Giovanni Boccaccio, hosts a specialised library that features precious copies and translations of the Decameron and minor works; critique’s essays in foreign languages; rare and prestigious works (printed between XVI – XVIII centuries, with pictures made by famous artists). Other rooms have on display furniture and expositions of the life and work of Boccaccio himself.
Furthermore, marchioness Carlotta Lenzoni de’ Medici – who bought the house at the beginning of the 19th century – charged the painter Pietro Benvenuti to realise a fresco illustrating Boccaccio on an internal wall. This fresco, well preserved until present day, survived to the 2nd World War bombardments.
Since 2012 the Museo della Casa di Boccaccio belongs to the Municipality of Certaldo and is part of the Associazione Nazionale Case della Memoria circuit.
Via G. Boccaccio 18, Certaldo
JANE AUSTEN’S HOUSE MUSEUM
Jane Austen’s House Museum, which was opened to public in 1947, was the home in which the famous British writer have lived from 1809 to the death, located in the town of Chawton in the Hampshire, England. Jane Austen (1775-1817), novelist known worldwide thanks to her masterpieces among which Pride and Prejudice and Emma, lived in the Chawton Cottage with her mother, her sister and their friend. The most evocative and symbolic room of the cottage is the dining room, which holds the chair and the precious table on which Jane Austen used to write letters and well-known novels. Several locations – among which the kitchen and the bakery – show interesting objects illustrating Jane Austen’s life: her donkey carriage, a letter box with her initials ‘JA’, an embroidered handkerchief, a lock of her hair, jewels and music books.
Winchester Road Chawton
+44 01420 83262
FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA MUSEUM
La Huerta de San Vicente was the summer home of the García Lorca family from 1926 to 1936. It is located inside the vast Federico García Lorca Park in Granada – a city in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) was a Spanish poet and playwright, member of the Generation of ’27, well-known thanks to great works such as La Casa de Bernarda Alba; he was executed during the Spanish Civil War since he was against the Franco’s regime. Inside La Huerta, opened to the public in 1995 as house-museum of Federico García Lorca, the poet wrote some of his greatest works. The interesting exhibition itinerary includes the tour of the 2-floor building and some rooms: the kitchen, the dining room and the poet’s bedroom, where paintings, pictures, original manuscripts and objects belonged to Lorca are displayed.
Calle Poeta Garcia Lorca, 4
tel. +34 958 51 64 53
LEV TOLSTOJ MUSEUM
In Tula, city of the European Russia located approximately 125 miles far from Moscow, the Yasnaya Polyana (Bright Glade) was a vast estate in which Tolstoj was born, lived and was buried. In this house Lev Tolstoj (1828-1910), one of the greatest Russian authors, wrote two masterpieces: War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Originally, the estate was larger, but Tolstoy was forced to sell the main part of the old house – because of gambling losses – which was dismantled, leaving only a 2-floor wing and a veranda, where the writer lived together with his wife and sons. Inside, people can visit the dining room, the office, the large library with over 20 thousand books, writer’s bedroom and other rooms containing Tolstoy’s personal belongings and original furniture, such as his writing desk. Furthermore, the Tolstoj’s unadorned grave is located in the vast park.
Yasnaya Polyana, Oblast’ di Tula
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tel. +7 487 517-60-73
Located in Sant’Andrea in Percussina near Florence, Italy, the House of Machiavelli also referred to as l’Albergaccio (the bad hotel) was the ancient home – originally owned by the Machiavelli family – where the scholar have lived until death during his exile from Florence starting from 1512, when the Medici came back to the city. The home of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian writer and politician well-known for The Prince and La Mandragola, is described in one of the his most famous letters dated 10 December 1513 to his friend Francesco Vettori; the writer also described his typical day. This particular house-museum – today opened to the public – is interesting as it illustrates the life of a great politician who separated politics from morality through the house’s rooms: the library, the farm, the wine cellars, the secret passage and the tavern.
Via degli scopeti 64, Località Sant’Andrea in Percussina
+39 055 828471
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S HOUSE
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is one of the most ambiguous person of letters of the world, whose celebrity is not only connected to his amazing works – such as Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing and Richard III – but also to his personal story, since there are no certainties referred to his life. Moreover, a large number of conjectures surround this particular person. However, people can visit the house that is traditionally considered his birthplace, where Shakespeare would have lived during his childhood. William Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a restored 16th century Tudor style wooden building, located in the city of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England. House’s main attraction is with no doubts the Shakespeare’s Birth Room; it is interesting that some famous people, among which Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott, visited this chamber and engraved their signature on the glass of the window.
Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon
tel. +44 1789 204016
CARLO GOLDONI MUSEUM
Ca’ Centani or Centanni, the house where Carlo Goldoni has lived from his birth in 1707 to 1719, is located in Venice not far from Canal Grande. Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) was an Italian playwright, well-known for its plays written in Venetian language, such as Servant of Two Masters and The Mistress of the Inn. The building, which today is home to the Carlo Goldoni’s house-museum and the Center for Theatre Studies, opened its doors in 1953.
Cà Centani or Casa di Carlo Goldoni is a typical Gothic palace built in the 15th century. It presents interesting elements of civil Venetian architecture between the 14th and the 15th century and is characterized by a porticoed hall and a courtyard with its open stairway. The exhibition itinerary starts from the ground floor, where illustrated panels show Goldoni’s life; then, eight different theatrical sceneries of Goldoni’s plays were recreated in three main rooms. Moreover, the 3rd floor houses the Library of the Center for Theatrical Studies, holding over 30 thousand books and documents.
San Polo, 2794
tel. +39 041 275 9325
THOMAS MANN’S BUDDENBROOKHAUS
Near the city hall in the center of Lübeck, Germany, a large Rococò style white building referred to as Buddenbrookhaus is the home to the Heinrich-und-Thomas-Mann-Zentrum – a literary museum dedicated to the great writer Thomas Mann and his brother Heinrich Mann – that opened its doors in 2000. Thomas Mann (1875-1955) was a German novelist and essayist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929, well-known for his masterpieces, among which The Magic Mountain and Buddenbrook. The building, built in 1758, housed the Mann family from 1841 to 1891 and became a library in 1922. The Buddenbrookhaus takes its name from the famous novel (it was the setting of Thomas Mann’s masterpiece). This house-museum illustrates the lives of Thomas Mann and his brother through a permanent exhibition on five floors that includes interesting manuscripts, pictures and films.
tel. +49 451 1224190
ALESSANDRO MANZONI’S HOUSE
Casa Manzoni is located not far from Piazza Duomo in the heart of Milan, Italy. It has been housing the Manzoni Museum since 1965. Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), one of the greatest Italian writers, well-known worldwide thanks to his novel The Betrothed, bought the house in 1813. He lived here with his wife Enrichetta Blondel and his sons until his death. Following restorations asked by Manzoni himself in 1864, the building presents a neo-Renaissance architecture with detailed cotto tiles decorations.
The exhibition itinerary includes the tour of several rooms full of furniture and artworks – among which portraits, sculptures and drawings – illustrating Manzoni’s life and literary works. House-museum’s main attractions include writer’s bedroom, simply furnished, and his office, where he wrote The Betrothed, one of the most important Italian novels. This house-museum is a must see for Manzoni’s lovers.
Via Gerolamo Morone 1
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tel. 02 8646 0403
The Maison de Balzac is located in the residential district of Passy in Paris, France. Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was an important French writer, well-known mainly for his majestic work referred to as La Comédie Humaine: a series of novels describing the French life in the post-Napoleonic era. The writer have lived in the modest house – located on the building’s 3rdfloor with its annexed garden – for seven years, from 1840 to 1847. In this apartment, Balzac conceived his Comédie humaine and wrote relevant novels, such as La Cousine Bette. The house’s five rooms hold furniture, portraits of Balzac and his family, and objects belonged to him, among which a tea pot and a coffee maker. Since 1971 the house has been containing a museum and a large library on the ground floor, which shows Balzac’s original manuscripts, annotated books and letters.
47 Rue Raynouard
HOUSE OF LEOPARDI
Recanati, a picturesque town near Macerata in Marche region, Italy, was the hometown of the great Italian writer and poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837). Visitors can see the Leopardi Palace, where the author of the Zibaldone, Canti and Operette morali, was born and spent half of his life. The large building presents a simple and refined architecture, following a restoration made by the great-uncle Carlo Orazio Leopardi in the early 18th century.
Since the Leopardi family still lives in the house, tourists can only visit the wine cellars (built between the 17th and the 18th century on a 4 thousand square feet area) and the vast library containing approximately 20 thousand books collected by the father Monaldo. In addition to the estate, the ‘Leopardi’s places’ are very interesting as well: the Saturday in the Village little square, Silvia’s house – a building that originally was a stable and the home of Teresa Fattorini’s family, the famous ‘Silvia’ – and L’infinito hill on Tabor Mount.
Via Giacomo Leopardi 14
tel. 071 757 3380
CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM
The Charles Dickens Museum, located at 48 Daughty Street in Bloomsbury district in London, England, opened its doors in 1925. Charles Dickens (1812-1870), one of the greatest British novelists who wrote masterpieces such as David Copperfield and Hard Times, has lived in the Georgian style terraced building for two years, from 1837 to 1839, together with his wife and sons. The exhibition itinerary starts outside with the blue plaque ‘Charles Dickens Novelist lived here’ and continues inside on four levels. Dickens’ house-museum – his only surviving London house – includes the visit of the dining room, the kitchen, his bedroom and the office where he entirely wrote Oliver Twist. All the rooms show precious and interesting objects connected to the novelist’s life and work, among which manuscripts, letters, rare editions, paintings and original furniture, such as his canopy bed.
48 Doughty St
tel. +44 20 7405 2127
GIOVANNI VERGA MUSEUM
The House Museum of Giovanni Verga is located near Piazza Duomo in the old part of Catania in Sicily, Italy. It was the birthplace of the Italian famous writer, one of the main exponents of the Italian literary movement of verismo. Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), well-known for his novels I Malavoglia and Mastro-don Gesualdo, was born and died in the 2nd floor apartment located in the historic center of Catania. Inside the late 18th century building, large and sober rooms contain original furniture. People can visit the dining room, Verga’s private office with his library – with 2600 books housed in finely carved walnut bookcases, and his bedroom with original bed and writing desk. Moreover, several glass cases hold copies of Verga’s most famous manuscripts.
Via Sant’Anna, 8
FEDOR M. DOSTOEVSKIJ MUSEUM
Saint Petersburg, Russia
The F.M. Dostoevsky Literary Memorial Museum is located on Kuznechny Lane 5/2 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. That is the very first stop of the Dostoevsky’s itinerary, which includes the main places connected to writer’s life and novels. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was one of the most important Russian writers and thinkers, who wrote several masterpieces such as Crime and Punishment and Demons. This house-museum was opened to the public in 1971; the Russian writer has lived here from 1878 until the day of his death.
This museum is divided in two parts: the first one is the apartment, a typical middle-class house that was restored according to old pictures, archival plans of the house and memoirs of contemporaries, where Dostoevsky lived with his second wife and children. The second one is the literary museum, characterized by several sceneries connected to some novels’ writing, his education and his journeys in Europe, pictures and literary works. Moreover, Dostoevsky wrote The Karamazov Brothers in this house.
Kuznechnyy per. 5/2
tel. +7 921 977-43-00
IL VITTORIALE DEGLI ITALIANI
Gardone Riviera, Italy
Il Vittoriale degli Italiani is a particular 9-hectare estate located in the town of Gardone Riviera, in the North of Italy. It belonged to Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938), an Italian writer, poet, playwright, politician, soldier and patriot, well-known for his great works, among which The Pleasure and The Intruder. The exhibition itinerary of the huge estate built between 1921 and 1938 includes inside and outside areas. Visitors cross the majestic double-arched gate and reach the amphitheater, where can enjoy a great view of the Garda lake. The vast garden hides amazing places, such as the Mausoleum with the D’Annunzio’s grave, the cruiser Puglia and the cemetery of dogs belonged to the writer, with a plaque that says ‘my dogs lie here’. Inside the house referred to as the Priora, several rooms with very particular names welcome visitors inside Gabriele D’Annunzio’s fascinating life.
Via Vittoriale 12
BRONTË PARSONAGE MUSEUM
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is located in Haworth: a small village in West Yorkshire, England. It is a museum dedicated to the Brontë sisters: Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848) e Anne (1820-1849). It was realized in the house where they have spent almost their entire lives. The 2-floor house – built between 1778 and 1779, was acquired by the Brontë family in 1820. Inside tourists can visit the kitchen, Charlotte’s bedroom, Rev. Brontë’s office and the library with the richest collection of manuscripts, letters and first editions of Brontë’s novels and poems. However, the most evocative room is surely the dining room. Here the three sisters used to spend a lot of time. And here they wrote two masterpieces of the English literature: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Moreover, all the rooms hold furniture, dresses and several personal belongings of the Brontë family.
Church Street, Haworth
tel. +44 1535 642323
MARCEL PROUST MUSEUM
La Maison de Tante Léonie or the Marcel Proust Museum is located at Illiers-Combray, a town in the Centre region, France. It was the house belonged to Proust’s uncle and aunt, Jules Amiot and Élisabeth Proust, where the young French writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) spent his Easter and summer holidays between 1877 and 1880. This place inspired the writing of In Search of Lost Time, his majestic work in seven novels. In that house, aunt Élisabeth used to offer the madeleine: traditional French shell-shaped little cakes to the young Marcel. A particular habit that will make him recall his childhood in the following years.
Today, the house-museum includes the garden and the building. Here visitors can see the kitchen, the living room and Marcel Proust’s and aunt Léonie’s bedrooms. Interesting furniture, objects, portraits, books, letters and documents belonged to the great French writer are displayed in the house.
Place Lemoine 28120
tel. +33 2 37 24 30 97