Four hundred years ago Galileo developed a telescope that forever changed our views of the heavens—literally and philosophically. This new special interest tour explores the man and his achievements through the Smithsonian lens of scientific discovery.

Starting at: $5,395 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Galileo showing his telescope to the Doge of Venice. Credit: Scala / Art Resource NY  The Campanile in Piazza San Marco, Venice  The skill of glass blowing in Murano  Observatory Tower, University of Padua  Historic Observatory Tower, University of Padua  The iconic Duomo of Florence  Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence  Tomb of Galileo, Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence  Visitors outside the renowned Uffizi Gallery. Credit: John Kellerman/Alamy  Some of the many treasures in the Uffizi Gallery. Credit: Art Kowalsky/Alamy

In the Footsteps of Galileo

8 days from $5,395

Four hundred years ago Galileo developed a telescope that forever changed our views of the heavens—literally and philosophically. This new special interest tour explores the man and his achievements through the Smithsonian lens of scientific discovery.

or Call 855-330-1542


Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Long touring days with many full-day motor coach excursions. Standing and walking for long periods of time during city tours, museum visits, and/or outdoor activities. Walking over sometimes difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, absence of elevators, climbing aboard trains with high steps); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Possible exposure to higher altitudes.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time.)


Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Venice

Arrive in Venice and transfer to your hotel. Relax and settle in before meeting your fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for an evening welcome reception and dinner. (1R,1D)

Day 3 — Galileo’s Padua

Travel to nearby Padua for a day of excursions related to Galileo. Visit La Specola Museum and discover fascinating exhibitions related to both astronomy and human anatomy. Next, head to Palazzo Bo, the Renaissance palazzo and elegant anatomy theater at the 800-year-old Padua University, where Galileo taught and made early astronomical discoveries. After lunch in a historic cafe in the city center, take a guided walking tour of Padua, following in the footsteps of Galileo.

Return to Venice and the hotel for a lecture with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. The evening is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 4 —The Telescope and Glassmaking

Begin with a trip up the iconic campanile (bell tower) of the Basilica di San Marco, where Galileo demonstrated his telescopes to the Senate of Venice. Using replica telescopes, view his demonstration and learn how telescope lenses are crafted to magnify distant objects. Later, board a water taxi to the island of Murano to learn about the art of glass-making during a special private tour of the Seguso glass studio (est. 1397).

After lunch at a local Murano restaurant, journey to Florence. Gather for a lecture, followed by an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 5 – Pisa and Its Tower

Travel to Galileo’s hometown, Pisa, and visit the Piazza del Duomo, a World Heritage site that is considered one of the finest architectural city centers in the world. Tour the Duomo, Baptistery, Camposanto (cemetery) and, of course, the legendary Tower of Pisa. That famous tilt happened five years after construction began in 1173, and was incorporated into later stages of the building, which took another 170 years.

Explore other sites in and around the square on your own before gathering to return to Florence. Your evening is on your own. (B)

Day 6 — Florence and Arcetri—A Day of Art and Science

Explore the fabulous Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s oldest and most famous art galleries and home to a dazzling number of masterpieces.

In the afternoon, travel outside the city to Arcetri, where you'll pass by the 14th-century Convent of San Matteo, where Galileo’s daughters entered the order of the Poor Clares. Visit Villa Il Gioiello (subject to confirmation) for exclusive access to the place where the persecuted scientist spent the final years of his life under house arrest. It was here also that he dictated his “Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems,” the book that lays out the difference between an Earth-centered system and a Sun-centered one and that became fundamental for modern scientific pursuits. You'll also take an exclusive tour of the Arcetri Observatory and enjoy time to view the Tuscan night sky. Dinner will be at a typical trattoria. (B,D)

Day 7 – Galileo’s Florence

Take a walking tour of Florence in the footsteps of Galileo, and view some of the places where he once lived, now private residences. At Santa Maria Novella—Florence’s first great basilica and the city’s principal Dominican church—see where the great astronomer’s theories were first attacked from the pulpit.

Continue to the church of Santa Croce, home to Galileo's tomb, featuring the moons of Jupiter, which he discovered. Next to him lies his favorite daughter, Maria Celeste.

Spend the afternoon at the Museo Galileo. Here, you'll view Galileo’s compass, telescope, and microscope and learn how these instruments influenced his discoveries.

This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 8 – Depart for the U.S.

Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for individual flights back to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)