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A Galileo Galilei tour of Pisa

The traces of the famed scientist in his birthplace

As you may know, Galileo Galilei, the famous 16th-17th century physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, involved in the Scientific Revolution, was born in Pisa, on February 15, 1564. But what many ignore, even some locals, are the many places in town connected to the “Father of Modern Science”.

Here is a suggested itinerary for those who wish to discover Pisa in the footsteps of Galileo.

Piazza dei Miracoli Pisa
Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa

Starting point is the town's famous Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracles Square), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are the well-known the Leaning Tower, the Baptistery, the Monumental Cemetery and the impressive Cathedral, where Galileo was baptized.
The Opera della Primaziale Pisana building, at the end of the square, conserves Galileo's baptismal certificate. 
After some controversies, the scientist's birthplace has been finally located in the Sant'Andrea neighborhood, at street numbers 24 and 26 of today's Via Giusti.

According to legends, Piazza dei Miracoli was a scientific laboratory for Galileo's discoveries, like the experiments on the free fall of the graves, conducted from the Leaning Tower. It is also said that the isochronism law of the pendulum's oscillations was grasped by Galileo inside the Cathedral, observing a large votive lamp.

Piazza dei Cavalieri, Pisa
Piazza dei Cavalieri, Pisa

Walk along via Benedetto Castelli and reach Piazza dei Cavalieri, only a few meters from Piazza dei Miracoli. The square is named after Galileo's successor at the University of Pisa, and today it's a pole of cultural and study attraction due to the presence of the headquarters of the Scuola Normale di Pisa.

Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo, Pisa
Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo, Pisa

The next step leads to Borgo Stretto, one of Pisa's most noteworthy streets and, today, one of the city's top fashion areas. Looking closely to Palazzo Bocca, the corner house on via Mercanti, there is a plaque indicating it as the former residence of the Galilei family. Just up ahead is the magnificent Church of San Michele in Borgo.

Time to head to Piazza delle Vettovaglie, where Galileo spend time as student.
The palace of La Sapienza, founded as a university seat in 1472 by Cosimo I dei Medici, is instead the scenography of his years as a teacher, first as a young and misunderstood professor of mathematics and, later in life, as a famous scientist.
Under the portico, the entrance to the Aula Magna Storica preserves a statue of Galileo Galilei.

View from the top of National Museum of the Royal Palace
View from the top of National Museum of the Royal Palace

The National Museum of the Royal Palace, designed by Buontalenti, is the next stage of the tour. For centuries this was home to the reigning Medici, Lorraine and Savoy families; today it's filled with furnishings from the 17th-19th centuries, including paintings, armor and tapestries. The top of the tower offers and amazing view over Pisa, and it's from here that Galileo would point his telescopes to observe the celestial vault.

Galileo Galilei by Kobra
Galileo Galilei by Kobra

It's time to cross the Arno river now, at Ponte Solferino, and head towards the most recent homage dedicated by Pisa to its illustrious fellow citizen. Since November 2023, on the Macarone Center building, stands the imposing work by Kobra, the worldwide famous Brazilian street artist: a 160 meter mural depicting Galileo Galilei using the Tower of Pisa as an astronomical telescope, a tribute to science, routes, exchanges, internet, Old and New World.

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