Palazzo Cavalli was built in the mid 16th century, and the balanced distribution of rooms around a central “portego” bears witness to its Renaissance origins. The imposing and sumptuous cycle of frescoes decorating its reception halls can be dated on the other hand to the second half of the 17th century and reflects the Baroque taste for wonderment, with sophisticated trompe l’oeil features. Strolling through the historic rooms of the Museum, the more inquiring and discerning visitor can admire the beauty of the frescoes, exploring the stories they tell, the symbolisms and the hidden details, and at the same time understand their dialogue with the extraordinary exhibits on show, enjoying a truly unique experience.
In the atrium the viewer can digest the “exploits” of the noble house, ponder the metamorphosis of Ovid and glimpse the amours of Jove and Apollo.
In the Room of Roman Stories, the leatherback sea turtle looks up at frescoes inspired by the writings of historians Titus Livius and Valerius Maximus, with female figures of varying morality as the subjects.
Items in the Room of the Hunt include the prized ostriches of the historical collection: depicted on the walls are various types of hunt, including the hunt for the white ostrich!
Old Testament scenes in the Room of Bible Stories seem almost to suggest the point from which Charles Darwin began the thought process that led ultimately to the publication of his work On the Origin of Species, of which the first Italian edition is exhibited here.
The historical tour ends with the Scalone d’Onore, a monumental staircase affording a physical and spiritual ascent accompanied by the Muses: Calliope and Melpomeni on the lower floors, Urania and Clio further up. And waiting at the top is Apollo, face turned upwards as if to welcome the light coming from above. In point of fact there was originally an octagonal roof lantern overhead, but it was removed in the late 19th century.