Today I begin a trip with my high school students for Northern Italy. Pisa, Firenze, Verona, Padova, Venice and Bologna are waiting for us and they are so excited with the idea of enjoying art pieces, eating pizza and spending a wonderful week together in the magnificent Italian land. We left Barcelona yesterday at 20:30 and after a long journey traveling by bus, we have arrived to Pisa this morning. Pisa is a wonderful city and everybody wants to take photos to the famous leaning tower of the city. But… do you know that you can see Galileo Galilei’s birthplace walking by the narrow streets of Pisa?
Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa on February 15, 1564. Wikipedia summary says that:
Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the “father of modern observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of science”, and “the Father of Modern Science”.
His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.
Galileo’s championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point. He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It was while Galileo was under house arrest that he wrote one of his finest works, Two New Sciences, in which he summarised the work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.
Nowadays, Galilei’s first home is in Via Giuseppe Giusti and the house hosts a real-state agency:
There is a little inscription that reminds to the visitor that this house is a very important building in the history of Science…
and there is also a little picture of Galileo Galilei in a corner of a window:
I am going to finish this post with another of the pictures that are going to be always in my mind:
Location: Galileo Galilei’s birthplace (map)