Just beyond the tourist-swarmed Ponte Vecchio and past the Pitti Palace, a flight of stone stairs leads up into one of the oldest European science museums and the first Wunderkammer of the 17th century. Twenty-four rooms, all lined with beautiful floor-to-ceiling wood and glass cabinets, contain a vast collection of species from around the world. Many of the taxidermy pieces are notably newer, while others are charming reminders of how far the art of taxidermy has come – one example being the Medici family’s preserved pet hippopotamus which was laughably taxidermied by a man who had never seen one alive before. The museum also boasts a mount of the legendary thylacine, which was pronounced extinct in 1936.
La Specola was one of my favorite stops in Florence. We walked back through each room a total of three times because I couldn’t get enough of this place. I could gladly live in here.