Departure from Fortezza da Basso by bus to the Museum of Zoology and Natural History “La Specola”.
Several generations of the Medicis had collected with passion great artistic treasures, as well as a wide range of natural treasures such as fossils, animals, minerals and exotic plants. This material and the new addition, which includes a very large collection of books from all over Europe, was used by the enlightened Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, with the aid of the abbot Felice Fontana (1730-1805) to create a Museum of Natural History opened to the public. For this reason, the prince purchased in 1771 the block of buildings situated next to the Pitti Palace, which still is the present-day location of the museum "La Specola".
Today visitors have access to 34 rooms: 24 are dedicated to zoology and 10 to anatomic waxes. The zoological section displays both recently acquired and old examples of animals preserved with the technique of taxidermy, such as the hippopotamus that was apparently given to the Grand Duke in the second half of the 17th century and lived for a few years in the Boboli Gardens.
The Museum is particularly proud of its collection of anatomic waxes, an art introduced in Florence by Ludovico Cigoli (1559-1613), which enjoyed its maximum period of splendour and technical and scientific accuracy during the 18th century.
The most important pieces of the wax collection is represented by the group of waxes by Gaetano Zumbo (1656-1701), which possess an extraordinary artistic value besides representing excellent anatomical models. The wax collection, unique in the quantity and beauty of its pieces, was created in order to teach anatomy without having to directly observe a cadaver. In the mid 1800's, due to the physical separation of each discipline, all but the zoological and human and comparative anatomy wax collections were moved elsewhere.