The Families


  •  The Ricciarelli family is a historical patrician volterran family from Orzale, Lunigiana, settled in Volterra around 1428; the founder was Bartolomeo d’Antonio da Orzale. In the fifteenth century they were members of the Stone and Wood Works, and they were engaged both in the extraction and marketing of the alabaster. The descendants of Bartolomeo will gain importance covering public offices, monopoly of the most important families of the town. The history of the Ricciarelli is closely related to the construction of the palace; to show the economic and political prestige of the family and consequently to be eligible for the order of the Knights of Santo Stefano and the patrician citizen, it was necessary to be owners of a building. The most famous character of the family was Daniele Ricciarelli, Michelangelo’s pupil, called Da Volterra or Volterrano, better known as the braghettone because he covered the Sistine Chapel’s naked. Daniel does not belong to the Ricciarelli branch of the palace but to another branch of the family.
  •  The Ricciarelli begin to buy real estate in Borgo Nuovo Santa Maria, that includes via Ricciarelli, in 1601. It is half of a house and another half bought by Emilio di Conte of Bernardino Conti. In the following years, trought various passages of ownership with the Conti, the Ricciarelli came to own some houses in the Borgo. In 1677, the family bought from Valerio Spada a house, for 80 scudi. In 1685 they bought a house on auction, between Borgo Nuovo Santa Maria and Chiasso, the current via del Mandorlo, owned by the Lottini already belonged to the Del Bava family and by the Company of the Blessed Sacrament, creditor of the Lottini. In 1709 the houses bought were described as a noble home, as reported in the nobility requisites needed by Bartolomeo Gaetano of Mario Felice Ricciarelli to be a Knight of Santo Stefano. The Ricciarelli had already a familiar commendation, dating back to 1610, founded by Piero di Giovanni Mariotto. In 1750, in order to regulate the noble class, the patricians was established in the major cities of Tuscany, according to the “Law on the Regulation of the Nobility and Citizenship”, which prescribed the titles and requisites necessary to obtain the recognition of noble qualities; Among them was the possession of a palace in a noble city (Florence, Siena, Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, Cortona and Volterra).


  •  Dello Sbarba ancient family from Volterra owned the palace since 1910; the founder is Cecco di  Lorenzo da Mazzolla arrived in Volterra around 1397, whose descendants will take the surname Ciceroni. In 1594 Pasquino di Niccolaio Ciceroni changed his surname in Ciceroni Dello Sbarba and then Dello Sbarba. In 1842 the family branch, which later became the owner of the Palazzo Ricciarelli, is joined to the Florentine family of the Gherardini Del Giocondo following the marriage with the last descendant of the house. The Gherardini, which have been reported since the year 854, landowners in Chianti, Valdelsa and Argonne, and important for the history of Florence between the 9th and 14th centuries. Well known exponent of the family is certainly Monna Lisa known as “La Gioconda”. At the beginning of the 19th century Brunellesco Dello Sbarba, Rosa Gherardini Del Giocondo’s great grandson geologist, chemist, naturalist, pharmacist, started buying and selling palaces in Volterra. Noteworthy are the restorations of the palaces already Marchesi, then Forti, then Campani, in via Marchesi and of the Palazzo Fattorini already Riccobaldi Del Bava, in via Roma. Brunellesco carries out many activities and acquires the farm of Lischeto and with his brother Arnaldo the farm of Cozzano. In 1910 Brunellesco bought at auction the entire Building Ricciarelli formed by the Ricciarelli, Contugi, Pagnini, Cinci Palaces; Brunellesco carries out various activities in the geological, mining, chemical, pharmaceutical fields; He lives in Venice, Mira di Marano, Lido di Venezia, Pisa, has several properties in Volterra but chooses as the nucleus of the family the palace of Via Ricciarelli. Even today his descendants consider the palace as the nucleus of the family.
  • As the Tuscan branches are all extinct, the Gherardini survive in branches that have spread elsewhere. Around 1000 a branch emigrated to Normandy, from here in England, and then to Ireland. Descendants will be named Fitzgerald and will become important in the history of the Island. From these Gherardini – Fitzgerald, divided into Fitzgerald by Kildare Dukes of Leinster and Fitzgerald Counts of Desmond and who will also assume the office of viceroy of Ireland, descend the Kennedy. The Gherardini were a belligerent family and therefore often some members of the family had to leave Florence and Tuscany. Being a Ghibelline branch, he fled to Lendinara in the twentieth century when the Ghibellines were defeated in Florence. Another branch in 1302 exiled along with other Florentines belonging to the defeated party of White Guelphs, such as Dante Alighieri, in Verona. From here they moved to Reggio Emilia, where they had acquired lands, and subsequently to Venice, having obtained the subscription to the veneto patricians. Other Gherardini in the fifteenth century moved to France taking the surname Girardin.