Palazzo Lanfranchi was born from the combination of as many as eight tower houses fromthetwelfth century. The palace, which belonged to the Stefani family, wealthy wool merchantsin the 14th century, began to take its present appearance in the 16th century, when the Lanfranchi family moved there. In the 19th century it was sold to doctor Andrea Vaccà Berlinghieri, then changed owners several times until it became the Graphics Museum in 2007. The renovation of the building, carried out between 1976 and 1980 by Massimo Carmassi, has led to the rediscovery of the construction phases that have occurred over time; details of medieval structures and wall decorations are still visible inside. The Museum of Graphics housed in the building: Part of the University Museum System, S.M.A., the museum exhibits the collections of the Prints and Drawings Department of the University of Pisa, one of the first and most important public collections of contemporary graphics in Italy, established in the late 1950s on the initiative of art historian Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, which includes drawings and engravings by Giovanni Fattori, Giorgio Morandi, Luigi Bartolini, architect Mario Chiattone and other protagonists of 20th century art. Today, the museum alternates temporary exhibitionscovering many themes, from botanical to animal illustration, or cinema.
In 1820, the building was bought by Andrea Vaccà Berlinghieri, founder of the School of Surgery. His wife, Sophie Caudeiron,transformed the palace into a place of culture, organising literary and scientific salons that attracted poets, artists, politicians, travellers and exiles: from the Shelleys to the most illustrious Fanarioti, supporters, from Tuscany, of the Hellenic cause. During the Pisan stay of Mary Shelley, Andrea had the great opportunity to meet her and, on the occasion of her second visit in 1820, invite her to the palace to participate in galvanism experiments secretly carried out in the most hidden rooms of the palace. According to a local tradition, with echoes as far back as the United Kingdom, it was thanks to the Pisan doctor that Mary made some important changes to the novel Frankenstein published in 1818, but released in second edition in 1831. The fame of the Italian Frankenstein grew even more with the construction of the Temple of Minerva Medica in Montefoscoli (Pisa), wanted by Andrea to commemorate his father Francesco Maria: a place full of mystery and masonic symbols, which attracts many occult scholars every year. After Andrea's death in 1826, Sophie dedicated herself with passion to the education of her three children, taking an interest in the pedagogical methods of P.E. von Fellemberg, and in the management of the family patrimony, especially the estates of Orzignano and Montefoscoli, obtaining trust and social consensus at the time rare for a woman.