Sometimes I have the urge to tell people patiently waiting in line at the Uffizi to bag it and scoot around the corner to the Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza on Piazza dei Giudici, just down the street from the new exit of the Uffizi. It’s open nearly every day, including Mondays, and full admission for adults is 6.50 euro, less for children. There are no lines, the illustrated guide is clear and helpful, and the museum is one of the great quiet joys of Florence.
Housed in the recently renovated Palazzo Castellani, the museum has on display about 1,500 scientific instruments, both Italian and foreign, some dating from the 11th century, contained in 21 rooms on two floors. The exhibition route is organized chronologically and thematically, the first floor containing mainly the instruments of the Medici collections, the second those of the Lorraine period. The young staff is welcoming, cheerful, and knowledgeable; they are always happy to talk with you about the exhibits and, when possible, demonstrate how they work. If you are lucky, you will bump into Andrea Gori, the dynamic coordinator of public services, and when you have talked with him you will understand what passion and commitment are all about: he believes so completely in the mission of the museum.