A leisurely morning with breakfast and then some time in the studio before heading out to our appointment at La Specola, the zoological museum, and a private tour of the Camera dei Scheleti (hall of the skeletons). La Specola is one portion of the Medici’s vast collection and includes more than one million specimens and the famous anatomical waxes.

Our guide, Emmanuele, was terrific and provided a 30-minute, in-depth introduction to the collection of bones, ranging from a tiny mammal no bigger than a finger-joint to the jawbone of a sperm whale. The Medici’s elephant, used for ceremonial purposes in and around Piazza Signoria, was on display with a wide variety of other specimens, including chimpanzees, humans, sea lions, sloths, sharks, badgers, and camels.

We then visited the main galleries of the museum to gaze upon thousands of examples of zoological forms: from insects to mammals, birds and fish.

The section of anatomical waxes was not fully on display, due to renovation of some of the galleries.

We then broke for lunch and agreed to meet back at the Foresteria at 3:00 to venture on to the Gallileo Museum of Science, an optional site visit for anyone interested. A stop at our favorite gelateria (La Carraia) was unavoidable since it was right on our way!

In the Gallileo Museum, the Medici’s collection of scientific instruments (navigational tools, astrolabes, measurement, optical, etc) are beautifully displayed along with didactic videos and wall text in both Italian and English. Along with the permanent collection (which even contains the relic of Gallileo’s fingers), was a special exhibition on the history of the bicycle.

As we prepared to depart, a torrential downpour ensued. Some decided to wait it out in the foyer of the museum while others made a dash for Ponte Vecchio and ultimately home. Firenze never ceases to surprise!

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