1024: Halloween to da Vinci

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At the end of a long corridor at La Specola, at the entrance to rooms full of anatomical waxworks, this skeleton greets all visitors. An appropriate image, I thought, with Halloween just around the corner. La Specola, one of six sections that cumulatively comprise the Florence Museum of Natural History, is world famous for the waxworks and, while immensely fascinating, is not for the squeamish!

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But it turns out that La Specola is so much more. It deals with the broader subject of Zoology. Opened in 1775, it is the oldest scientific museum in Europe. I’ll have much more in future posts.

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The Botany Section, in which I was also allowed to photograph, is another wonder to behold. Not only does it contain an herbaria containing more than 225,000 dried plant specimens, it also houses endless cabinetry filled with plant seeds and samples in glass-stoppered bottles and vials. Here are a couple of examples:

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“Oculistico”, one of many street scenes I focused on, seems to have an undercurrent – and not an entirely pleasant one at that. What makes it so? Maybe it’s the sunglasses.

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Two more street scenes from Rome. Ancient buildings in the heart of the city – one with Roman artifacts strewn about all around it – and the other with motorbike parked out front.

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And here are two more from my Street Shrines series – in this case both from Rome.

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During our trip Cindy and I were constantly amazed and gratified by the treatment we received. Everyone we met was so very willing to extend themselves and help insure a memorable experience for both of us. One example was a wonderful day in the Tuscan countryside with Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi and Dr. Stefano Dominici, the two people to whom I owe such a huge debt of gratitude. It was they who were responsible for my exhibition. We managed to visit two fossil sites, the first of which was across the vineyard seen above. The cut in the distance, and the dirt road leading to it looked like this:

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I’ve never seen such density – fossils crackling underfoot like walking on popcorn! A hillside full of these Pliocene fossils (app. 3 million years old).

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I managed to bring a small bagful home to my studio where I have had some time to explore. These are a few of the resulting images.

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And finally, during that day in the countryside, Elisabetta took us to the little town of Vinci (as in Leonardo da ___). We toured the da Vinci Museum and then visited his birthplace. Turns out that in his youth he became familiar with these same fossils, part of his insatiable curiosity that eventually led to his greater understanding of geology and earth processes.

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My recent fascination with “character-laden” trees did not abate while in Italy. There was a great deal to choose from, especially this one special tree that resides in the courtyard of da Vinci’s birthplace.

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Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

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