Hidden treasures

The magic summer solstice in Florence

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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

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