The Mineral Museum in Firenze, (Florence) Italy.
Via G. La Pira, 4
Firenze, Italy

In Italian it is the: Museo di Storia Naturale sez. Mineralogia e Litologica.  It is housed in the Universita Degli Studi di Firenze.  The curator is Dr. Giuseppe Mazzetti.

During my October trip to Europe I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Mineral Museum with Dr. Alessandro Genazzani.  I had heard of the fabulous tourmaline specimens from Elba Island - the type locality for elbaite variety of tourmaline - and since I had spent literally hundreds of hours collecting tourmalines in the Pala mines in San Diego County, California in my late teens and early twenties I was thrilled to be able to see where tourmalines, more or less, got "their start".

Before moving to the pictures let me state that this is one of the better museums I have visited.  All of the specimens on view are either of significant historical importance to mineralogy or are simply top notch examples of their kind.  Though modest looking on the outside it is anything but on the inside.  Dr. Giuseppe Mazzetti has done a remarkable job of presenting minerals in an informative manner from both systematic and historical perspectives.

Here's a picture of Guiseppe in front of large pocket
specimens from the tourmaline mines on Elba.  The specimens display large bicolored tourmalines, 
morganites, quartz and feldspar crystals.

View looking down one of the halls where the 
systematic collections are displayed.


On to the rocks!

My first stop was the cases devoted to the famous minerals from Elba Island.  Elba Island is a small chunk of land off the west coast of Italy along the Tuscany coast.  Besides pegmatites Elba also boasts some of the prettiest hematite specimens ever found with gorgeous irridescent tarnishing on crystals that range in size from a few mm to the size of a large fist.

This case displays a number of fine specimens
of hematite and ilvaite.

This is the case with the remarkable specimens of 
tourmaline, beryl, pollucite and rare cassiterite from 
Elba Island.

The following are only a small sample of the dozens of fabulous specimens of elbaite and beryl found in the cases dedicated to them.

A map of Elba Island locating the mines where elbaite
and the other famous pegmatite minerals were found.

This is large cabinet specimen (15+ cm) of quartz and 
feldspar hosting a number of fine bicolored elbaites. 


Superb specimen of free standing elbaite crystals
to over 5 cm on quartz and feldspar matrix

Close up of the same specimen.


Close up of a large cabinet specimen with dozens
of fully terminated elbaite and quartz crystals. 

Outstanding cabinet specimen of fully 
terminated pink elbaite on matrix. 


Small cabinet specimen of 
bi-colored elbaite on quartz matrix.

Yet another "blow your socks off" small cabinet 
specimen of gemmy bi-colored tourmaline.


Several gemmy pinacoidally terminated crystals 
to 3 cm of elbaite emerging from quartz matrix.

2.5 cm gem crystal of pink elbaite on matrix. 

The next shots are of the pematite mineral shot - a morganite and then hematite and ilvaite specimens which are also found on Elba Island.

A 5+ cm crystal of morganite.

Spectularly large crystal of ilvaite.  This beast
measure in excess of 9cm and is fully terminated. 



Unbelieveable specimen of multicolored
hematite crystals to over 3 cm across. 

This is large cabinet specimen (12+ cm) of hematite crystals. 


A closeup of the specimen on the right detailing 
a few of the large crystals that exceed 7 cm.


No mineral museum in Italy would be complete without
a specimen of sulfur from the famous mines in 
Sicily.  This a monsterous 30+ cm specimen
covered with crystals to 7-8 cm across.


A single crystal of topaz from Brazil.  For scale you 
can make out the reflection of my head in the glass to 
the upper right of the crystal. 

One section of the museum is dedicated to gigantic specimens from Brazil of smoky quartz, topaz, feldspar, beryl and tourmaline.  On average each specimen is about 60 to 70 cm in length! 


Here's a shot of Alessandro about to tell me 
that the benitoite in the case rules over any 
specimen he's seen on my website...


While it is true that no mineral museum in Italy would be complete without a specimen of sulfur from Sicily, it is equally true that NO MINERAL MUSEUM is complete without a specimen of BENITOITE! Here's a very fine example of a 2+ cm crystal on matrix that resides in this fine museum.

The Firenze Mineral Museum
Florence, Italy
The Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC
The Milan Museum of Natural History &
The Federico Pezzotta Elba Island Collection
The California Mining & Mineral Museum 
Mariposa, California
The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
Los Angeles, California

Trinity Mineral Co Tsumeb Mineral Shows Mineral Books Mineral Auctions Mineral Museums Benitoite Mine Rare Minerals

All text, specimen images, and graphics are copyrighted © 2001-2006 - John Veevaert