One of the many museums linked to the University of Florence, where nearly all the collections were begun by the indefatigable Medici, the Natural History Museum's Geology and Palaeontology Sections has one of Italy’s best collections of fossils, many of which were uncovered in Tuscany, including antiquated elephants from the Valdarno. A special room is dedicated to the evolution of the horse, while the prize exhibit is a unique skeleton of a nine-million-year old primate, Oreopithecus bambolii found in the Maremma, and said to be related to early hominids.
The Mineralogy and Lithology Section houses strange and beautiful rocks, especially from Elba, a treasure island of minerals; there’s a topaz weighing in at 151kg, meteorites, and a bright collection of Medici trinkets, worked from stones in rainbow hues that originally held pride of place in the Tribune of the Uffizi. Lorenzo de' Medici had LAURMED engraved on his, so no one would forget who had purchased them. There's a 16th-century bowl in lapis lazuli with a Cosimo I's emblem, a turtle, and his motto Festina lente! ('Make haste slowly').
Via Giorgio La Pira 4
Hours Oct-May Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, Sat & Sun 10am-4.30pm; June-Sept daily 10.30am-5.30pm
Adm €6, €3 ages 6-14 and over 65
+39 055 2756444
Images by: Daderot, Creative Commons License