Before I begin this post, some of you may have been wondering why last week’s post didn’t include photos of Mr. Husband’s Dome and Campanile climb in Florence. Um, to be honest, I was being a bit lazy and didn’t feel like wrangling the SD card from his camera. But the motivation  bug bit me today and I’ve added photos of the climb (eek!) and the views (eek, but oooh). So, if you have time, you may want to revisit Part Two of my Italian adventure.

Now, on to Part Three which includes zombies and a creepy tale of missing body parts just in time for Halloween….

As I mentioned last week, this is when The Vacation starts to get a bit wonky. See, Mr. Husband and I have never experienced a full blown case of jet lag whether jumping ahead eight or nine hours to Europe, or going back five hours to Hawaii. We expect a crappy night’s sleep the first night and to wake up weirdly early the first day, but after that we’re pretty much on our normal schedule.

Not so this trip.

By the second night we still weren’t sleeping. This night, I woke up sometime around midnight and never really got back to sleep. I’m not entirely sure what woke me up, but  it may have had something to do with our upstairs neighbor’s feet being made of stone and his lovely habit of dropping everything he owned (which was made of lead) on the floor (our ceiling). Little were we to know, this was him being quiet, but more on that next week.

Needless to say, after about seven hours of sleep over the past 72 hours, neither my brain nor my body were functioning well. But being in a complete and utter zombie-like state did not stop us from seeing a few sights.

Must see sights...and eat brains.
Must see sights…and eat brains.

The Saddest Natural History Museum Ever

We hadn’t really planned on going to this sad little museum, but as we had a bit of trouble at the Pitti Palace ticketing booth (more on that next week), we decided to pop in and see what was inside.

Now, when I think of “Natural History Museum,” I think of something along the lines of the gorgeous displays at the NHM in London or the awe-inspiring natural history displays at the national Museum of Scotland. Informative, interesting, modern, you know, stuff you want to look at.

giraffe, edinburgh, national museum scotland
National Museum of Scotland…doing natural history right!

But the Natural History Museum in Florence? Well, let’s just say I think it was last updated in the 50s…the 1850s, that is.

Sure it’s mildly interesting to see the creatures and there’s a nice little creep factor when you see the enormous tapeworm, but you basically feel like you’re walking through the halls of a poorly funded high school. Creepy crawlies are displayed in formaldehyde that has washed out any color, the fur of the stuffed and mounted animals is worn thin (and I swear on some you can still see the bullet holes!), and there’s not much information anywhere about anything.

However, we did have a little fun in the primate room….

Lack of sleep can lead to a little evolutionary decline.

The Science History Museum. Wait, Is That a Finger?

After the disappointment of the Natural History Museum, I was a little leery of visiting the Science History Museum, aka “Museo Galileo.” But it was on our list of things we wanted to see, so we headed over the Ponte Vecchio to take our chances.

florene, firenze, italy, ponte vecchio
A little trek over the Ponte Vecchio.

The one good part about the Natural History Museum? With the tickets, you got a pretty decent discount on the Museo Galileo. As I was expecting the worst from this museum, I walked in, brandished my tickets, and uttered my best “C‘e’ un sconto con questi?” (at this point my brain hadn’t gone full-on zombie, so my language skills were still hanging in there).

Happily, though, this museum was well worth the price. The displays were gorgeous and informative and interactive (yay, fun!). The building itself used to be a palace (I think most buildings in Florence can claim this, though) and in the lower level you can still see the foundations from the 11th century (you can also watch a great video about the damage from the flood that hit Florence in the 1960s).

florene, firenze, italy, museo galileo
Foundations of the Palazzo Castellani.

The main displays are all about the clever stuff Galileo invented and how science was “born” during the Renaissance. There are also displays about the entertaining side of science with a whole room dedicated to how showmen would wow their audiences with scientific doodads.

florene, firenze, italy, museo galileo
Science-y stuff!

florene, firenze, italy, museo galileo

florene, firenze, italy, museo galileo

Giving Florence the Finger…and Thumb

Amongst all this cool gadgetry were a couple bell jars. I walked up to them wondering what they could be. What’s hidden under this unassuming bit of glass. Oh my god! Is that a finger!? And a thumb?!! Um, yes it is.

Yep, it's a finger...a middle finger to be exact. (Image from Mental Floss)
Yep, it’s a finger…a middle finger to be exact. (Image from Mental Floss)

So one day some guy brought some finger bones (displayed in a jar) to the Science Museum. He had bought them at auction and was convinced they were Galileo’s fingers. The curator did a bit of research and determined the guy was right.

Galileo died in 1642 and his wild ideas made him no friend of the Church who had him under house arrest since 1634. Ninety-five years later some Galileo groupies decide to take a peek at his body (cut them some slack, this was before TV). Oh miracle of miracles, his body hadn’t decomposed – turns out the dry conditions of his burial chamber mummified him). Certainly, he should be declared a saint. You’d think people who adore a scientist would be smarter than this, but….

As believers will do, the groupies cut important bits off of Galileo – the fingers and thumb that would have held his telescope – so they could have a relic of their scientific saint. Well, given that the Church hadn’t exactly been in favor of Galileo while he was alive, they certainly weren’t going to honor him when he was dead (the Church can be stubborn like that).

The poor rejected fingers ended up in the hands (haha) of one of the groupies (a marquis), then were probably handed (haha) down for a few generations before eventually coming up for auction and being bought by someone who knew his bones. Now, they have the honor of being a weird and creepy display at the Museo Galileo.

Next week, I’ll continue our Florentine Zombie Experience with an unwanted party and our ticketing nightmare at the Pitti Palace.

Have a great Halloween Everyone! Boo to you!




6 thoughts on “Giving Italy the Finger…and Thumb

  1. I’m glad I saved reading this post for Hallowe’en… Stolen body parts, zombies and things that go bump in the night? Perfect! And the idea of people creating DIY relics from the corpse of a scientist had me in stitches! I’m looking forward to next week’s episode already 😀

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    1. As the old saying goes, “Nothing says ‘relic’ like stolen body parts.” Then of course there’s the classic ad campaign, “No saint fits your needs? Get one of your own with our new and improved saint-making kit: Holy Helper. Order now and receive a free relic.”

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