Hidden treasures

The magic summer solstice in Florence

Did you know that...
Solstizio_Firenze

The magic summer solstice in Florence

In Florence, on the dome that rises above the Cathedral, stands the largest gnomon in Europe. If you are not lovers of astronomy, the image of a great gnomon perched on Brunelleschi's colossal creation will surely have made you smile. But we are not talking about fairy tales or enchanted woods, rather of science: the gnomon is the part of the solar clock that projects its shadow onto a base plate. For the Duomo of Florence, this plate is a perforated bronze tablet (‘bronzina’) fitted at a 90 m height inside one of the windows of the dome.

On some special days, this contraption creates an incredible and evocative show: in the solstice period from 12.30 to 13.30, the sun rays descend from the bronze tablet and create an image of the sun. This figure slowly overlaps the white marble disc to the left of the main altar. It is a fascinating scientific phenomenon that attracts many tourists and has repeated itself for 300 years. The astronomical instrument, among the oldest invented, was installed in 1475 by the Florentine mathematician Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli in order to determine the solstice but also the inclination of the earth.

We can assure you that seeing the sun rays create a disc that overlaps the marble one amidst the darkness inside the cathedral is a show really worth witnessing. Obviously you have to be in Florence at the right time of the year - a period which, among other things, is perfect to enjoy the fantastic Tuscany city. The long summer days will allow you to have many hours to visit the pearl of the Renaissance and therefore we recommend taking advantage of one of our Tours of Florence. We really do have something for everyone: from the more classical ones such as 'Florence not to be missed' that will allow you to visit the most significant places of the Tuscan capital to the more creative and unusual ones. Want some examples? 'Romantic Florence' for love birds or 'Scary Florence' for those who prefer a more eerie atmosphere.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Tuscany: Senza lilleri non si lallera!

Senza_lilleri
Figures of speech

If you have already read other anecdotes on Tuscan expressions, you have probably understood by now that in the land of Dante there is ...

View

Pisa: The ghost of Galileo: Ghostbusters at work in Piazza dei Miracoli!

Fantasma_Galielo
Mysteries & Legends

Even the great Galileo Galilei was Tuscan. He was a Pisan, to be precise, where he studied medicine before devoting himself to science....

View

Lucca: Santa Zita and the miracle of the pulses

Santa-Zita
Mysteries & Legends

In Italy there is a Saint to protect the workers of every profession. Santa Zita, one of the most beloved characters of Lucca, is the p...

View

Florence: Why does everyone in Florence call a tracksuit a ‘toni’?

Tuta_toni
Figures of speech

In Tuscany we don’t have a proper dialect, but you just have to move a couple of miles to hear different ways of saying that are spec...

View

Top posts

Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

Guido-d-Arezzo
Big Names

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the mode...

View

Pistoia: The Kiss of the Christs in Gavinana

Il-bacio-dei-cristi
Local Traditions

It is a very ancient but still popular rite. Two large processions that meet up with a Christ on the cross in front of each one: the he...

View

Siena: Piero Carbonetti and his tin drum

Piero-Carbonetti
Local Traditions

Subversive, persecuted, anarchist, homeless, dreamer: it is really difficult to define Piero Carbonetti, Tuscan bred and born and Garib...

View

Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Kinzika
Local Traditions

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracen...

View