After crossing the marvelous Great Hall of the Poggiana Library, the visitor enters the first room of the Museum and is immersed in the magical atmosphere of the ‘Museo com’era’, where you can see a reconstruction of the paleontological collection from the XIX and XX century.



Moving on, the tour will make a temporal jump in upper Valdarno of 3 million years ago. In the second hallway, the visitor will be fascinated by the images of the most important protagonists of the basin’s paleontological history, which are presented with a brilliant anamorphic solution (by the artist Stella Battaglia). The Museum tour proceeds through the three main phases of the basin, in an extraordinary journey in time.

During the first phase – 3 million years ago – swamps and warm–humid forests with plants that had high stems characterized the upper Valdarno. Here lived mastodons, tapirs, rhinoceros, primitive black bears and tortoises. Primitive bovids lived in rare grass areas, in the rivers lived tenches, salmonids and turtles. Remains of these animals, found in lignite originated by the accumulation of vegetal remains in swamps, can be seen in the showcases dedicated to this phase.


Proceeding in the museum tour, the visitor will see a renewed landscape, the second phase of accumulation in Valdarno. Between 3 and 2.5 million years ago, the basin got wider because of a tectonic collapse. About 2.6 million years ago, a strong global cooling, with the expansion of the arctic, signed the beginning of great glacial and interglacial successions and had deep effects on the upper Valdarno. The tropical forests were replaced by an environment similar to a wooded savannah. A great part of small herbivorous disappeared, replaced by ones of big or huge size, such as elephants and horses that were very similar to the modern zebra, but also bovids that were more developed from the ones of the previous phase that were organized in herds, like today zebras and gnus. In this phase also appeared many consistent groups of big sized cervids. Pigs, medium size deer, monkeys and porcupines inhabited the woods. The new herbivorous provoked changes in carnivorous too.

Savannah’s ambush predators, like saber-toothed tiger and panthers, were joined by cheetahs, giant hyenas and canids, similar to wolves, coyotes and African wild dogs. Meanwhile in  forests, lynx and bears, which were more dangerous than today’s specimens, were settling. Shortly after, new giant deer and hippopotami arrived. The first showcase of this period is dedicated to the most important species from the renewed fauna, the elephant (Mammuthus), the horse-zebra (Equus) and the canids (Canis). The other two showcases show, respectively, the remains of other herbivorous mammals and gregarious and lone predators of that period.

One of the showcases is dedicated to the extraordinary site of Poggio Rosso, an accumulation of remains from a giant hyena’s lunch (Pachycrocuta brevirostris), formed during a very long period of aridity.


Moving on through the museum tour the visitor is introduced to a new kind of fauna, then one of the third phase of the Valdarno, which dates back to about 200,000 – 100,000 years ago. In this period, a new complex of fauna inhabited the basin. In the showcase dedicated to this phase can be seen remains of a big elephant of African origins (Palaeoloxondon antiquus), of a mammoth, wild horse, steppe’s rhinoceros, ox, bison and giant deer, but also one’s we are more familiar with like stags, wolfs and roes. The journey in time ends with an overview on the principal phases of the human evolution, offered by the last showcase of the museum tour. It is actually a prologue of what the visitor will see on the ground floor, where he will be able to admire the famous elephant of Campitello, associated to the stone relics, which are the most ancient in the world.