To Whom did Gallileo give the Middle Finger?
Click on the Map
to see the walk from
Santa Croce to the Science Museum
What you will see:
Starting in the huge church Santa Croce we see a lot of tombs and funerary monuments to famous Renaisssance era people. on one side of the church you'll find the final resting place of Michaelangelo. Mike's art can be found in many places in Italy. While he grew up in Florence, he spent considerable time in Rome, as well as stints in Venice, Bologna, and elsewhere. He chose to be returned to Florence to be buried in the church that he grew up attending. The house where he grew up is a very short distance from the cathedral, and is today a tourist attraction. Opposite the tomb of Michaelangelo is the tomb of Galileo. While most of Michaelangelo's work was Biblical and therefore pleasing to the Church, the work of Galileo was anything but. When Galileo supported the theory of Copernicus, that is that the earth travels around the sun rather than the sun revolving around us, He fell out of favor with the church, He was eventually labeled a heretic and was excommunicated. He wqs not allowed to be buried inside the church. However centuries later, after it was proven by science that Gallileo had been right, his body was exhumed and buried in the elaborate tomb you see. You will also see the tombs of Machiavelli, Ghiberti, and Rossini, and tributes to Dante, a native of Florence who is buried in Ravenna, Italy. You'll also find an incredible display of art by artists such as Giotto, Gaddi, Gerini, Giovanni da Milano, and others that don't start with G. It is believed that the church was founded in the 13th century by Saint Francis. Much of Giotto's work is depicting events from the life of Francis. While at Santa Croce, you will also see architecture of Brunelleschi, and sculptures of Donatello.
The walk ends at the Museum of Science, also calledr the Gallileo Museum. In a city known for its art and architecture, the Galileo Museum provides a change of pace. In this museum you will see clocks, globes and maps, pumps, and various devices and gadgets from the fields of chemistry and medicine. The museum covers science from 1000 to 1900 but the objects that garner the most attention are Galileo's telescopes and a jar with the middle finger of Galileo's right hand.
What you won't see:
When you stand in the Piazza di Santa Croce looking at the the 13th to 14th century cathedral, you don't see the original facade. If you walk to either side of the church you will see that the elaborate marble only covers the front. This facade was added in the 19th century, and bears a very prominent star of David. There are at least two back stories as to why. The designer of the facade was Nicolo Matas of Ancona. He's buried right there in front of the cathedrals main door. First story is that Nicolo was Jewish. He worked the huge star of David into his work because of his Jewish faith. He wanted to be buried inside the church with the other notable Florencians, but was denied because of his Jewish faith and buried just outside the door. Second story is that Nicolo was Christian, the star of David has a place in the Catholic tradition, and Nicolo chose to be buried outside, front and center because he considered the entire massive facade to be his tombstone.
When you stand looking at the finger of Galileo, you won't see why something so disgusting is the most popular exhibit at this museum. You also won't see the rest of Galileo. The rest of him is in a tomb back at Santa Croce. But you didn't see him there either because he is in a box as he should be, not displayed in a jar.
Beyond the Bricks:
Regardless of whether Nicolo Matas was Jewish or Christian, he was not buried inside the church. And regardless of whether he regarded the facade as his tombstone or not, he was buried beneath the masterpiece that he put his heart into creating. In life, Galileo put his heart into science, and was originally denied burial inside the church. But when his science was proven correct, his heart went into the church, and all that he gave to science was the middle finger.
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The Daily Walk
looks for stories beyond the bricks that you see. Places are interesting because of the back story. Sometimes the back story explains that which you see, and sometimes the back story gives you a perspective when there is nothing to see.