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Strolling in Piazza San Lorenzo with your eyes on the rooftops, you will notice an unusual building with a little dome in front of the church. It is the Ximeniano Observatory, a scientific institute that has been active for 250 years.

motore a scoppioIt was founded in 1756 by Leonardo Ximenes, a Jesuit. Its activities were carried forward through the years by the Piarist Fathers. The last director who belonged to the order was Fr. Dino Bravieri, a naturalist and a scientist, much beloved by the entire population of Florence. He was responsible for cataloguing the Library of the institute, for opening the Ximeniano Observatory to many scholars, to schools and teachers and for organising refresher courses, visits and conferences.
After the death of Bravieri, the institute became a foundation. From 1756 to today, the activity has always remained in the place where it began, on the top floor of the monastery of the Piarist Fathers, known as San Giovannino in Florence, opposite San Lorenzo and the Medici Riccardi palace.

It is possible to visit the Ximeniano, along an itinerary through four rooms:
the Ximenes-Inghirami room, where instruments for astronomical observation and topographical surveying are exhibited; the Barsanti room, where machines and the extraordinary prototype of the internal-combustion engine designed by Fr. Barsanti and Felice Matteucci are on view;
in the Alfani Bravieri room, the instruments of Fr. Guido Alfani are on view; while the Cecchi room is truly a seismological laboratory. Among its diverse fields of excellence, the Observatory Ximeniano boasts one of the most antique traditions in the world of instrumental observation of earthquakes, also one of the most prestigious.
This leadership is evident in the extensive collection of seismographs, among the earliest in the world, and the thousands of seismic registrations recorded by the many instruments of the Observatory. These are properly attributable to the extraordinary creativity of two of its major protagonists in this sector: Filippo Cecchi and Guido Alfani.

The institute also has two inestimable libraries focusing on the history of seismology, cartography, astronomy, meteorology and radio engineering and how they relate to the history of Florence and Tuscany.

Organised groups and schools of all levels and orders can arrange visits to the Osservatorio Ximeniano by appointment.
- Duration of the visit: about 1 hour and 20 minutes
- Maximum 25-30 participants
- Information and booking: tel. 055 210420 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9.30 a.m. -12.30 p.m.)



Published: 1/3/2016

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