The Best Years of Galileo’s Life: A Visit to Padua

I was a weird kid, into coding and science. For example, I used to always carry with me a copy of a book entitled “How, where, when?”. A fantastic book with stories of Egypt, the universe, and physics. The story that I liked the most was that about the famous experiment of Galileo who supposedly threw two spheres of different weight from the Tower of Pisa to show that they would touch the ground at the same time. I told everybody that story, but nobody believed me. — Galileo said that! –, I would cry.

Galileo was a smart guy with a long beard — He basically studied everything.

An Italian polymath, he was born in Pisa in 1564 from a large family of six. He is known for his work in astronomy, physics, engineering, and mathematics.

Galileo made substantial contributions to the study of speed, gravity, motion, relativity; he invented the thermoscope and various military devices. He used the telescope for the first time to observe the sky, discovering the phases of Venus, the four largest moons of Jupiter, and the sunspots.

— Hi! My name is Arturo, I am a scientist and a writer. —

— Hi! My name is Galileo, I am the father of the scientific method. You know that forgotten thing that you use to prove your bizarre theories? Yup, that one. —

Galileo was a genius. And as usual, when you are a genius, not everybody likes you.

For instance, Pope Urban VIII was pretty pissed off with Galileo because in his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a real scientific dissertation that was immensely popular — Sort of like Stephen Hawking’s books –, Galileo would insist in supporting the Copernican theory according to which the Sun, and not the Earth, is the center of the Universe.

— Sorry, Gal! Can I call you Gal?! — the Pope would say, — You are wrong! Look at the sky! The sun is moving! —

The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go

Galileo Galilei

But Galileo was strong and held his ground. So, the Pope charged him with vehement suspicion of heresy and forced him to recant. With his beard getting longer, poor Galileo spent most of the rest of his life in house arrest.

Galileo lived in several cities: Pisa, Florence, and Padua. Here, he enjoyed some protection against the Church by the Republic of Venice. He really liked Padua — The best years of my entire life, Galileo wrote once to a friend.

Galileo's Padua

Three places to spot Galileo in PADUA

Padua is a marvelous city in the North of Italy, not far from Venice. The city is the setting for most of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Oscar Wilde’s The Duchess of Padua.

Padua radiates culture and knowledge, with a university that through the years has attracted several notable personalities. Everybody around 1500 wanted to study there: Copernicus (yes! Galileo’s friend), Elena Cornaro Piscopia (the first woman in the world to receive a doctor of philosophy degree), Giacomo Casanova (yes, the seducer), and many others.

Padua is a city full of history with many points of interest, like the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, Piazza dei Signori, and the breathtaking Cappella degli Scrovegni. Totally worth a visit.

In all this beauty, Galileo’s heritage has survived until today.

— Galileo Galilei’s House

In Via Galileo Galilei 17, a small street in the city center of Padua, you will find the house where Galileo lived between 1601 and 1610. Legend tells us that Galileo used to observe the sky from the window and the garden of this house — Oh, what is that? –, ending up discovering the moons of Jupiter.

— Biblioteca del seminario vescovile

Remember that book we were talking about before? The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems? The book that made the Pope mad? Well, the first edition of that book, containing Galileo Galilei’s original notes and corrections, is housed in this library.

— Palazzo del Bo

This is a real gem. I absolutely recommend a visit! The building has been the seat of the University of Padua since 1493 and has attracted students and professors from all around Europe. Galileo taught here for about 18 years (from 1592 to 1610). You can still see his desk and the magnificent Aula Magna. Il Bo, as Padovani call it, also houses the world’s oldest anatomical theatre — According to some historical rumors, Galileo contributed to its design.

And now: spritz time!

Palazzo del Bo, Galileo’s house, and the Biblioteca are all located in the old city center of Padua. You can easily reach them on foot, walking through little streets, 14th-century Palazzos, and noisy Italians.

To recover from that, from the Italians I mean… What about a Spritz in Piazza dei Signori?

Around 7 pm, join the Padovani and try this simple cocktail — 1/3 Prosecco, 1/3 Aperol, 1/3 sparkling water. It is cheap, sweet, and goes straight to your head.

After a few of those, you won’t need Galileo’s telescopes to see some stars.


I took the “infernal window” photo in a bar in Berlin.
All the other photos were taken during my trip to Padua. For more check on


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