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

Livorno: The legend of the Argonauts of the Island of Elba

argonauti
Mysteries & Legends

In the splendid Island of Elba, there are many wonderful beaches and the one called Le Ghiaie is just one of these paradises. It is clo...

View

Pistoia: When Bowie came second at a contest near Pistoia!

David_Bowie
Did you know that...

David Bowie, the charismatic Thin White Duke, has surely played the stages of Tuscany on many occasions during concerts and festivals. ...

View

Florence: Pietro Leopoldo: the great reformer

Pietro_Leopoldo
Historical Curiosities

The Festival of Tuscany is celebrated on November 30. Why this date? It is a tribute to one of the most important figures in the histor...

View

Pistoia: Fernando Capecchi: the manager of the Tuscan band is from Pistoia!

Capecchi
Big Names

Do you remember when Giorgio Panariello played as the character with the raincoat that came on stage holding his mobile phone and sayin...

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