Wednesday, August 1, 2012

La Specolla


From the outside looking in it may seem like we always have things under control.  Reality is unfortunately, slightly different.  For example, usually we're well researched regarding trips, and having things well planned in advance.  For this trip, however life got in the way.  Despite advice and books from the Girls in NC, and numerous tips from our newest biking buddy in Indy we both failed to plan ahead to get reservations for the Academia and the Uffizi gallery.  So, we traveled to Florence without doing the quintessential visit of David. 

On the other hand, it's not much different from visiting NYC twice without seeing the Statue of Liberty, which is the case for both of us.  Fortunately, Lisa had a backup plan.  She had heard about a museum called La Specola.  It's famous for it's collection of taxidermied animals, and fantastic 18th century wax anatomic models.  Basically, right up our alley.

The first few rooms were filled with great bug specimens from all over the world.  Lisa was horrified about several of the larger ones (as seen above).


One of the particularly awesome bugs were some of the butterflies that impersonate leaves.  Take a close look at the picture above and see if you can identify the leaves from the butterflies.

The collection of taxidermied animals was pretty impressive, going on for several rooms.  The range and breadth of the collection was broad including a rhinocerous and a lion (which was quite a bit better than http://bit.ly/Qo8MmC).  Unfortunately for the whole museum they were all behind these awful glass and wood cases with the most depressing fluorescent lighting possible.



The bird rooms were particularly impressive.

Next we moved on to the anatomy rooms - there were again several (at least five) that were each filled with at least 50 individual models and usually at least one full-size model standing or laying down.  Each highlighted a different portion of anatomy:



Muscles and bones



Vascular anatomy and the lymphatic system



Neuro-anatomy.  Of course, there was a room dedicated completely to obstetrics with different models demonstraing different stages of pregnancy as well as a model of different types of ectopics.  Due to the poor lighting, and plate-glass they were all difficult to photograph.  I felt lucky to get the few pics shared above.


In the final room, there were four particularly detailed and graphic wax models representing 'life' during the black plague and this head.  The pieces in this room were obviously special, since they were actually well lit and much easier to photograph.  They were part of a collection by a particularly gifted wax artist named Guilio Gaetano Zumbo and were created in the 1700s.  This model of a human head exposing the muscles of the face, and the salivary glands was particularly vivid and actually utilized a human skull as the basis for the model.

Overall, it was a great little museum off the beaten path.  I'm not sure that I'm sad we missed David.

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