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Villa il Gioiello

Galileo's Last Home

Villa il Gioiello

Called 'the Jewel' for its gorgeous setting on the hills of Arcetri, this villa was the home of Galileo from 1631 until he died in 1641, after having been condemned to house arrest by the Inquisition. Here he wrote his important Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences on the strength of materials and motion (modern kinematics), the culmination of forty years of work, which he had published in Holland to avoid the papal censors.

Today the villa belongs to the Department of Astronomy at the University of Florence, which spent years restoring it to its original appearance. From the balcony Galileo could look out at the stars and across the rolling hills to the convent where his beloved daughters lived, although he also had to endure the heartbreak of losing his favourite, Virginia (Sister Maria Celeste) when she died in 1633. The original terracotta tiles are in place, as well as traces of decoration in the room where he received visitors such as John Milton, Justus Sustermans who painted his portrait, and the students who assisted him, especially after he went blind.

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Palazzi and Villas

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License