The Festa delle Donne (Women’s Day) occurred while I was in Florence. Among venues that offered free admission to women was the Church of Santa Maria Novella.
On the façade of this church, on either side of the entry, you will note some interesting structures. The one below is on the left, and is an armillary sphere, the work of Ignazio Danti, a Dominican monk and astronomer. Using this sphere, and the sundials shown below, he calculated the discrepancy between the Julian calendar and the solar year. His work with a committee of scientists was responsible for the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, in 1582. (This involved losing 10 days, so you went to bed on 4 October 1582, and got up on 15 October, 1582. Pity if your birthday was skipped that year!)
To the right of the entry you’ll note a marble sundial with several gnomons (the uprights that cast shadows onto the sundials).
The other side of this sundial also displays several gnomons.
And, if that isn’t enough, there are 2 more sundials! I am in awe of the intelligence and imagination shown by this monk, so many centuries ago.
And, then, just as I turned to leave this area, my eye was caught by this work in the marble. What in heck could it be?
It turns out to be the emblem of Giovanni Rucellai (thank you to David Lown, whose Walks in Florence, an Amazon Kindle edition is proving a goldmine of information). Sig. Rucellai must have had bags of money, he paid for finishing the upper portion of the marble façade, which was designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
My eyes have become opened to the many discoveries to be unearthed in Florence!