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 The name “Barrett” derives from the English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) who, during her stay in Rome towards the end of the year 1848, took up her principle residence in what was the oldest and most densely inhabited neighbourhood of the city called “Rinascimento”

 situated in the heart of the, at the time, capital of the Pontificial State; to be precise:

on one of the floors of the actual Hotel “Pensione Barrett” ,

the so called “piano nobile” ( the second, “noble”  floor, distinguished by it’s small balcony ) in the 16th century Palazzo directly opposite the archaeological site of Largo Torre Argentina. 

In 1846 the poet definitively left England

 to move to Italy; precisely to this Palazzo in Piazza San Felice in Florence. The house was named “Casa Guidi” by will of the same writer to give the idea of it being a family residence.


Casa Guidi, as we see it today, has the same number of rooms and the same floor plan of the apartment that the couple Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning rented in 1847 and lived in for a long period. 

 It took the Brownings two years to furnish the apartment, buying one or two important and valuable pieces like the gilded mirror in the sitting room, whereas most of the paintings and furniture were found in Florentine second-hand dealer’s shops : a lot of the interior decoration was just simple and functional.


Today there are still some of the paintings and furniture pieces that belonged to both the Barrett as to the Browning family, consequently kindly left in donation to Casa Guidi and all in all the interior decoration is still similar to that of the nineteenth century.


The walls and ceilings of both the sitting room and the principle bedroom as also the ceiling of the poet’s study have been accurately renovated using original period colours. All the doors and fireplaces are the original ones.

       The most acclaimed and famous female poet of the Victorian period 


visited the capital of the Pontificial State


 precisely during the revolution of the so-called Roman Republic in 1849,


which ended in its brutal repression and reinstitution of Pontificial State power

 thanks to the help provided hurriedly by the victorious French army in aid of the Pope-king against the rebels:

At that point, a heavy defeat crashed in on them, which, on the other hand, was already practically inevitable and realistically predictable.

Immediately afterwards many of the revolutionaries of the so short-lived Roman Republic paid their desire for freedom with their lives.




The poet’s presence in the Rome

of that period

was not at all a simple coincidence.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning cultivated a strong interest in the movement for independence in becoming a great supporter of the idea of a united Italy.

Already in her roman period,

Thanks to her vivid intelligence and delicate sensitiveness she felt her poet’s mission lay in a certain political and social responsibility as also in the construction and defence of the new position women would take

in society.



    This brief burst of flame of democracy the Roman Republic of 1849 represented turned into the detonator of an irreversible historical process.
In fact, it was only a question of a few years that Rome,

prisoner of the Pontificial State’s ultra-conservatism, was “liberated” thanks to the troops sent in by Count di Cavour and the House of Savoy.

20th of September 1870. The Capture of Rome. At the Porta Pia gate, the Bersaglieri penetrated into The Eternal City, thus bringing upon the end of Papal temporal power.
But Elizabeth would never see nor experience all this,

because she died in 1861, in Florence, city in which she was also buried.

After the poet’s death the City placed a memorial plaque (created by Niccolò Tommaseo) above the main front door with the inscription praising her poetry to have created a golden ring linking Italy to England.

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