~the finger that made me cry~

May 10th, 2008


It is perched in a blown glass egg, the base of which reads Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza. The right middle finger of Galileo–this heretic’s reliquary–is tucked in a case among telescopes, celestial globes, solar orbs, and tellurium.

Or it would be, if the museum’s wonderous objects were not mostly hidden away while they endeavor to renovate. Finger, yes. Instruments that first properly viewed and imagined the heavens? Not so much.


This time is a gift, and one we both relish to our bones (may they never end up perched in glass eggs). Given our budget and time constraints much energy is invested in research to make the slice of each place we sample tasty in all ways (and more festive even than Renaissance piglet prosciutto parties…).


In two days one could not begin to sniff a fraction of what a gorgeous city like Firenze has to offer, so we made some difficult choices and dove in, trailing Plan B, Plan C, and a willingness for no plan at all, behind us.


The latter was our fate on this adventure, where we were greeted by an uncanny number of locked doors reading Chiuso (closed). Oldest wine bar (1880s), housed in an antiques shop (Casa Del Vino)? Chiuso! Cooking shop promised to have teetering towers of delights akin to a sorcerer’s workshop (Bizzarri)? Chiuso! Family run trattoria where the torta dei fichi (fig walnut fennel cake) is celestial (Al Tranvai)? Chiuso! Candy shop where they wrap everything in Florentine paper or boxes shaped like the Duomo (Migone)? Chiuso! Flea market Mercato delle Pulci (on Piazza dei Ciompi) “open every day”? Chiuso! It was enough to get even a flexible pair of grateful travelers down…


We skipped most of the must-dos and even those museums we would generally have flocked to, like La Specola, home of the best anatomical models in all the land, and the museum where you can see Da Vinci’s inventions made manifest.


We chose instead to take in the city itself, selecting a destination and just wandering our way there. And true, getting there was more than half the fun, especially since more than half our attempts were foiled!


So by the time we reached our last morning and our last pilgrimage–to the beckoning bony finger–I was superstitiously chanting under my breath “please just be open.” But no, it was not open, not really.


Additionally the exquisite and very technical catalogue is only printed in Italian, and too pricey for me these days anyway, and thus there was a public fight (with lover, in kissiest city on planet) not really about my unwillingness to buy and translate said book in my spare time (but perhaps about unspeakable bathrooms, 4am mosquito vigilantes, mandatory 65EU bridge tolls, 70EU tanks of gas, 3am Italian karaoke neighbors, being each others sole companion for months on end) and that’s how Italy found me teary-eyed and emphatically gesturing in the morning sunlight. It was a scene most eye-talian.


I can offer this fantastic online catelogue that allows you to nearly visit the museum from your armchair.


One Response to “~the finger that made me cry~”

  1. J says:

    True story: On a weekday morning in the middle of town, Jo and I finally find a public bathroom in Florence. To our dismay but no longer our surprise, the sign on the door reads CHIUSO. Jo asks the passing janitor, “What time will it be open?”
    “Wednesday,” he replies.

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