The life of Dante and the medieval Florence

Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries

The first room, devoted to the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries, to which Dante belonged, presents plants, minerals and instruments such as a still used to create the potions and ointments administered to patients as an early form of medical treatment in the Middle Ages. On the walls are plaster tiles presenting the principal crafts of sculpture, weaving, and painting, copies of the originals that are now in the Opera del Duomo Museum.

Also on the wall is a reproduction of an intriguing painting of The Virgin of Mercy; the original is dated 1352 and is in the Bigallo Museum in Florence. This picture is particularly important because it shows an early image of medieval Florence, dominated by towers, as it would have appeared to the young Dante’s eyes.

Dante Alighieri's Statue by MadarassyThe Apothecaries Table

Florence and its political life

In the second room, the political room, panels describe the internal divisions of the city of Florence and the war between competing factions. Further enriching the room are showcases containing decorated pottery of inestimable value, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, together with a well bucket and a pitcher from the fourteenth century. These objects are an example of the original pieces housed in the museum.
Medieval Florence

Florence’s Economy

In the center of the third room, which deals with the Florentine economy, is a scale model showing how Florence was divided into districts in the Middle Ages. The panels and showcases present the wealth of the city, based above all on trade. To help visitors understand this significant aspect of medieval Florentine society, on the wall is a panel illustrating the trade routes of the most important Florentine families. In a showcase to the side is reproduced the currency used for exchange, coined all over Europe, the florin, present in gold and silver. On the left wall is illustrated the goldsmith’s craft, already famous in the Middle Ages. In the case below this are some of the tools used by goldsmiths to create their precious jewelry.
Medieval FioriniMontelupo Pottery

The battle of Campaldino

In the last room on the first floor is a very fine diorama of two armies lined up against each other for the Battle of Campaldino, fought between the Ghibellines of Arezzo and the Guelphs of Florence. The battle is important not only because Dante himself took part in it, but also because on 11 June 1289, the day the battle ended, Tuscany became a Guelph dominion. In the same room, visitors can see life-size reproductions of three types of soldiers: a typical Italian soldier, a shield bearer and a crossbowman. In a large showcase in the center of the wall are weapons dating from the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; it is said that the middle dagger was used by a soldier in this very Battle of Campaldino.
The Battle of CampaldinoDante's Dagger