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Galileo’s Middle Finger… and some other fingers and a tooth

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 30, 2018

Friday, October 27th – 28th, 2017

Florence was all about museums. We visited 3 museums in this town, The Museo Galileo, The Galeria Academiei, and the Uffizi Gallery. Most of the things you go to Florence to see are in one of these 3 museums. There are a few more Florentine museums, but we didn’t have time to see any more.

Galileo Galilei

The first was the Museo Galileo. There, we went to see Galileo’s telescopes and instruments, all the stuff that belonged to the Medici family, and of course Galileo’s middle finger. This museum came with a free Audio Guide app which you could download using their free wi-fi. On the app there was audio information on the more popular things, written information on everything, and videos that explained the science behind many of the instruments.

I don’t know how interesting the audio guide is, objectively. I was already keen on seeing most of the stuff on display, so I was willing to wade through facts and figures and I thought the audio guide was great. I’m not sure how I would have liked it if I just didn’t care so much about Galileo, his instruments, and pioneers of science. But, overall I thought the audio guide and the hands-on section did a good job keeping my interest.

The one thing I just could not turn away from for a long time was Santucci’s armillary sphere. It’s basically like that scaled version of the solar system you did as a project for science class in elementary school. Except, this one puts the earth at the center, instead of the sun. This makes the whole thing really, really complicated. It took 10 years to make and I’m not sure how long it took before it stopped functioning.

If it were heliocentric, the math would have been so much easier and Santucci could have whipped one up in a few weeks. But, he might have been arrested like Galileo was, so maybe this was better.

Next we visited the Galeria Academiei. We went just to see the David. I mean, if the David weren’t there, we would have never stepped foot in this museum. But, since we paid for tickets, we wanted to experience everything there was to see. So, we rented an audio guide for two and it quickly made us moan out of share boredom.

The audio guide was very informative, but it was dry. It never told us why we should care about the pieces we were looking at. What was the artist trying to convey? What was he or she living through? What was I meant to feel? I know nothing about art and I really need the audio guide to help me understand what is going on.

However, I did have the free audio guide I downloaded from Rick Steves’ website. It was not very long. It only covered the David, the prisoners, and some of the instruments. It was a vastly different experience. I went from feeling burdened that I had to walk through a museum to being delighted to see pieces of history with stories to tell.

When you’re at an art museum and see that the price of the audio guide is almost as much as the entrance tickets.

Last we went to the Uffizi. Honestly, we almost didn’t go there. We knew it was the place to be when travelling in Florence. But I think of myself as an art barbarian and didn’t want to waste money on this museum if the audio guide didn’t have good reviews. I couldn’t find reviews for the audio guide, since no one really does that sort of thing. But, in my search I found another Rick Steves’ audio guide for the Uffizi.

Steves doesn’t cover many of the things in the Uffizi, but he covers enough that I feel I got my money’s worth of enjoyment out of the museum. Steves does a great job at getting me to care about the works on display. While listening to his guide I understand why a work is important and sometimes, I even like the art.

Everyone has an audio guide, whether rented or downloaded.

Overall, the audio guide makes or breaks the museum. If the audio guide is bad, the museum will be boring and I will learn nothing. I think this is why I love the museums in London so much. They seem to understand this and put extra effort into making good audio guides. (So much so, that they tend to run out and people queue to get the next returned guide.)

That face you make when you learn what’s really going on in the painting, thanks to your audio guide.


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Museo Galileo

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • € 9.00

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 18:00

Videos:

Books:

Notes:


Galeria Academiei

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  •  € 8,00
  •  € 6,00 – Audioguide
    • The Audio guide is very informative, but extraordinarily boring
    • Use the Rick Steve’s Audio guide instead.
      • It’s doesn’t have as much information, but it’s way more interesting.

Hours:

  • 8:15 – 18:20
  • Closed Mondays

Video

Notes:

  • The audio guide for this museum is great if you really want to know as much information as you can get. Unfortunately, it’s really boring. So, if you aren’t overly excited about the art presented here, you will find everything rather dull.
  • So, if you want all the information you can get, rent the audio guide. If not, download the free Rick Steve’s audio guide.
  • You can pay more to skip the line, but it is only worth it if the line is very very long.
    • When I went, it was around noon and the wait in line was about 30 minutes. We bought sandwiches and ate them while we waited in line.
  • Don’t Miss:
    • Michelangelo’s David

Uffizi Gallery

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • € 12.50

Hours:

  • 8:15 – 18:50

Video

Notes:


Don’t Miss:

Map:

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