Our visit to Florence took us to the breathtaking source of the Italian Renaissance. You saw and felt history in every direction and at all times. We spent 5 days on patrol revisiting our art history textbooks from college only this time we were there in person.
The art was amazing, but the place that really boggled our minds was Museo Galileo, what used to be called The Institute and Museum of the History of Science. When you go room to room and see the scientific instruments these people imagined and invented, you will gain a new appreciation of just how smart these folks were.
The museum is home to the only surviving instruments designed and built by Galileo. We saw his two original telescopes and the objective lens of the telescope with which Galileo discovered Jupiter’s moons. In addition, the museum is a repository for two dynasties that once ruled Florence: The Medici and the House of Lorraine. A little on the macabre side you even can see two fingers and a tooth from Galileo himself! There are over 1000 instruments and experimental apparatuses on display.
You learn about the Medici collections and how they promoted a scientific culture during the Renaissance. You also learn how The House of Lorraine collections from the 18th and 19th centuries show the foundation of science for the modern age.
As you wander room to room, you will see many mathematical, nautical, cosmographical instruments, ingenious glass thermometers, precise clocks that keep track of time of day, week, month, year, and the earth in relation to the moon, sun, and planets. There are detailed representations of the world, globes, and machines of war.
There are so many must-sees in Florence; it is easy to miss this one. Seeing the mechanical side of the Renaissance gave me a much broader view of these talented and brilliant Florentines.
Piazza dei Giudici 1
50122 Florence, Italy
May 31, 2013