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“Awesomely bizarre” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Museo Zoologico La Specola

Museo Zoologico La Specola
Via Romana 17, Florence, Italy
+39 055 275 5100
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Ranked #67 of 414 things to do in Florence
Certificate of Excellence 2014
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: This fascinating natural history collection can be traced back to the Medici family. Full of taxidermied animals of all types, skeletons and wax anatomical models, it is a must for the curious, as well as science and history lovers.
Calgary, Canada
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Awesomely bizarre”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2013

This place was a blast! Amazing stuff from collections going back centuries (and you can tell on some of it, which just makes it either more awe inspiring or more hilarious, depending). Also a rotating exhibit on the lower floor had an awesome crystals display...

Visited October 2013
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136 reviews from our community

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English first
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Another hidden gem of a museum in Firenze.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2013

What can you say about this place? It is as bizarre and wonderful as they come. Go on a weekday and have the place to yourself.

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barnsley, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
44 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“How odd, how bizarre but enthralling all the same”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2013

Visited the museum on a whim rather than a must do ..... firstly it was that easy to find. You need to follow the road round along the Pitti Palace and it hiding round a corner. It is up many flights of stairs and I nearly ended up in another exhibition to the floor beneath to which I was smartly told I couldn't view (the Galileo exhibition is only for guided tours as is the planetarium also housed in the same building).

The exhibit are the most oddly bizarre collection I have ever witnessed... from bugs, amphibians, mammals, birds to wax cadavers. I had secretly hoped that perhaps they might have slipped in a real one ... but its ok you're safe they are only made out of wax.. the great pity was that there was no information available to really explain what you were viewing.. but all the same was an excellent and worthwhile adventure... hey if you've got kids they will love it!!!

Visited September 2013
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Montreal, Canada
Top Contributor
307 reviews 307 reviews
50 attraction reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
241 helpful votes 241 helpful votes
“Another dimension for your Florence trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013

Being a biologist I'm biased, but our visit to La Specola was one of the most enjoyable aspects of our Florence trip. I'll wager I'm not the first person to reach oversaturation with the art and architecture of Florence, and also as a photographer I often found it intensely frustrating not being able to take pictures in the museums and churches. La Specola satisfied on both fronts.

My girlfriend is a medical illustrator, so a visit to the anatomical waxworks was mandatory! The detail of these is truly stunning. These wax models are works of art every bit the match of the sculptures of the Renaissance masters—if you visit, you'll see that's not just hyperbole.

Equally interesting for me were the thousands of animal specimens on display, arranged in rooms by taxonomic group. The presentation is straight out of the 1800s and there is precious little info for the non-biologist to interpret what you're seeing, but it's still impressive to see room after room of stuffed creatures of every shape and description. In the ape room there's an empty display case next to the orangutan, labelled Homo sapiens, in which one can pose for a silly photo!

The highlight for me was a stuffed thylacine or Tasmanian wolf, a unique marsupial that evolved to fill the niche occupied elsewhere by wolves. Tragically, this species was driven to extinction by European settlers less than a century ago. Perversely, collection for museum specimens was one of the forces that contributed to its demise, though the main reason was a deliberate extermination campaign by sheep farmers. This was the first thylacine I'd ever seen "in the flesh". There are also specimens of birds driven to extinction by humans, including the rather gruesome head of a Dodo, a stuffed Great Auk (sort of a Northern Hemisphere version of penguins), and a Carolina Parakeet (North America's only indigenous parrot, once ranging as far north as New York, completely wiped out in the early 1900s).

Obviously, one would not want to miss out on the more famous sights of Florence, but a visit to La Specola will give you something unexpected to tell your friends back home.

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Punta Gorda, Florida
18 reviews 18 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Perfect for Science and Animal Lovers!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013

When I learned about this museum, I knew I couldn't miss it! My boyfriend and I both have a love for science and animals, so we knew we needed to check it out. The collection of animals, bugs, seashells, and everything else was very impressive. The animal collection just kept going and going! I am VERY impressed. We also looked at the rock collection downstairs, and that was pretty fascinating. Although I loved seeing all of the exhibits in this museum, be aware that there are very limited English descriptions of what some of the exhibits are. Nonetheless, the museum is worth a visit.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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