Florence: La Specola Museum and Basilica of Santo Spirito

Buonasera,

Today marks our first day in the city of Florence which is filled with rich ambiance and culture. The twinkling street lights evoke a feeling of bliss and excitement. I actually enjoy roaming the streets of Florence since everything is in close proximity to each other. The weather is still chilly in the early mornings and late nights, but pleasant in the afternoons. Although the city is very upbeat and modern it stays true to its historic past by blending the two narratives together.

Venues visited:

  • Natural History Museum (La Specola) at the University of Florence.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
  • Basilica of Santo Spirito (Michelangelo’s Crucifix)

Now that we have begun our journey in Florence, its time for us to connect art with the study of anatomy. Our visit to La Specola at the University of Florence was an incredible experience. We had the chance to tour the museum which dates back to the 18th century and is the oldest scientific museum in the world. There are over 500 anatomical wax models created by Clemente Susini. Susini was a prolific anatomical wax sculptor of the Florentine school. He was also the one to introduce liveliness, elegance and an artistic flair to his wax models as opposed to the English depiction of the human body.

My favorite wax model in the museum is shown in my featured image on the bottom left corner. This is an anatomical wax head made by Gaetano Giulio Zumbo during the late 17th century. This anatomical head was considered the first anatomical wax sculpture ever produced! Its so fascinating to realize how medical students were taught the subject of anatomy back in the 17th and 18th centuries. The models are so accurate and artistic simultaneously. Rather than portraying the human body in a realistic fashion, Susini went further and overlapped an artistic flair with all 26 whole body specimens.

After a short lunch break around the town, we concluded our day with a visit to the Basilica of Santo Spirito. This basilica houses the first nude representation of Christ ever sculpted. The sculpture was done by 17 year old Michelangelo which represented a connection between his passion for art and his anatomical studies. Looking at the amount of detail and expression on the sculpture of Christ was mesmerizing. Michelangelo’s talent and hard work is showcased beautifully across the Italian Peninsula

Upcoming Adventure: 414 step climb to the viewing gallery of the bell tower and Duomo!

Molto Amore,

Ashna