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Galileo’s Florence

This tour will take you on two walks around Florence. Each walk will introduce you to the science of Galileo's time. You will visit some of the places and meet some of the people important in his life.

Advances in science usually are simultaneously rooted in their environment even as they eventually break free from that environment. Such is certainly true of Galileo’s work. By birth and sense of self, Galileo was a Florentine. He dedicated his most important scientific discovery, his telescopic observations of the moons of Jupiter, to the ruler of Florence, Cosimo de'Medici. Despite strong disagreements with and condemnation by the Church, he remained within its fold as he worked to correct what he saw as its errors. A walk through the streets of Florence today is a walk through the world that both nurtured and resisted the growth of modern science.

Galileo’s Florence explores the two sides of Galileo’s life, the personal and the scientific. Two walks are described, each beginning at Santa Maria Novella, very near to the central bus depot and train station. Both walks will introduce you to the science of Galileo’s time as well as to some of the places, events and people that were important in his life.

Galileo Walk 1

Start: Santa Maria Novella, Portico degli Uffizi, Museo di Storia della Scienza, Santa Croce, ( Duomo, Cappelle Medicee)

This walk starts at Santa Maria Novella where Galileo was twice attacked from the pulpit for his views. Continuing down to the river Arno, walk along the river to the Uffizi gallery and its portico of statues. Facing the Uffizi with one’s back to the river, the Museum of the History of Science is at the far right of the Uffizi building. Their collection of Galileo’s instruments and artifacts is outstanding. The museum also displays one of Galileo’s mummified fingers. Leaving the museum, follow the river to Ponte Alle Grazie. Turn onto Via Benci and walk directly to Santa Croce where Galileo’s tomb, as well as a wealth of art and architecture can be seen. One way back to the central train station is to retrace your path along the river to the Ponte alla Carraia. There are several streets, for example Via di Fossi’, that lead directly back to Santa Maria Novella and the train station. You may also continue up toward the central train station from Santa Croce, visiting the magnificent Duomo and the Cappelle Medici. On either route, you can wander along the streets and allies of the city that nurtured the growth of modern science.

Galileo Walk 2:

Start: Santa Maria Novella, Ponte Vecchio, Galileo House in Florence, Palazzo Pitti, La Specola

This walk starts at Santa Maria Novella because of the astronomical instruments on the outer facade. Walking down to the Arno and crossing the Ponte Vecchio, Galileo’s house in Florence can be reached by following Costa di San Giorgio from the Piazza di Santa Felicita. Returning to the Ponte Vecchio, one may walk down Via di Guicciardini to the Palazzi Pitti and its beautiful gardens. Just beyond the Palazzo Pitti one can find La Specola, now mainly concerned with the biological sciences.

Related Websites: Galileo's Life and Times

Galileo Homepage on Nova
Rice University Galileo Project
Galileo’s Notes on Line
History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine
Walks in Florence: Churches, Streets and Palaces



Villa Galileo Galileo's Home Plazza Pitti Museo La Spacola Santa Croce Portico degli Uffizi Museo di Storia della Scienza Duomo Cappelle Medicee Santa Maria Novella