This article focuses on the idea of domestic education in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy. Drawing on the cross-reading of a selection of two different sets of printed sources – pedagogical tracts, and art tracts which largely intersected with Catholic aims of religious reform and the creation of a confessional state and society – the article discusses the educational value that was attributed to the home environment, in its private, public and political dimensions, and the relevance which was attached to domestic visual and material culture and to the senses as learning tools to be used by children of different gender, age and class. Debates about education uncover less-known aspects of domesticity while suggesting the possibility to explore the continuities that might have existed between pre-modern notions of education and modern ones.