La Specola

It was another place in Florence where I honestly felt at peace. I don’t even try to understand why the guide who was showing us around at Palazzo Pitti was surprised when I asked what was the fastest way to get to La Specola… La Specola is an eclectic and one of the very few original museums of natural history in Europe. Its collections trace back as far as to the Medici family and their treasures in the 17th century.

Nowadays it is not as modern or innovative as it was back in the 18th century when world famous collection of anatomical waxes was first displayed (at that time only for the students of medicine). I will even dear saying that these days La Specola is more artistic than scientific museum. The charming Florentine details full of stories now have a decadent feel to them and old wooden cabinets remind of the original wunderkammers of the 17th century.

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One of the halls of La Specola Museum
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Zebra taxidermy specimens

At the time of my visit, there was not even one person around – only a recorded sound coming from the insects section and an occasional warm ray of sunlight at the staircase. After entering through a spacious patio, I got up to the wrong floor and, to my pleasant surprise, found a sculpture of Galileo in a dome illuminated by natural light coming from its glass and metal structure. I greeted Galileo and moved on to the third floor where the museum visit started.

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Statue of Galileo by Aristodemo Costoli
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Some of the famous anatomical vaxes

First I have checked the famous anatomical waxes and then I got to the antique but vast selection of birds. Later I got to my beloved bats and reptiles in jars. I have finished my visit with the noisy insects. I found some true beauties there! Some of them of the impressive size, others – colors or impossible shapes. Since now I add leaf and stick insects to my already favorite bats and reptiles.
I need to practice my writing skills much more to express how much I enjoyed this historical place, but meanwhile I will hope that you can feel a little bit of its strange magic in my video from La Specola

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Lizards in a jar at La Specola Museum
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Spider specimens

For more information visit La Specola. To see the Anatomical Wax Models halls you have to book a guided tour. These are usually on four times a day.

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Anatomical hand drawing
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My hand and some of the specimens at La Specola

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