On a visit to Florence try to go off the beaten, pass and see some less promoted tourist attractions. After having seen Uffizi and Accademia best travel guides will recommend visiting Santa Croce – the largest Franciscan basilica in the world. This church became a cemetery for famous Italian people like Michelangelo Buonarroti and Niccolò Machiavelli. Right in front of the grave of Michelangelo you can find the tomb of Galileo Galilei. Therefore, the question is how could Galileo, the scientist accused of heresy, be buried in a church?
As you know it was Galileo who proved that it is the Earth that goes around the Sun and not vice versa.
The idea belongs to Copernicus but Galileo invented a telescope which proved it. Obviously Galileo became a victim of the inquisition and was forced to go to Vatican. Thanks to the protection of the Medici family he was just forced to sign a document stating that he was wrong and like this he escaped being burnt at a stake.
When Galileo died, of course he couldn’t be buried in the church. Again the Medici family intervened and buried him secretly in their private chapel. They buried him in a wall, so no one could ever imagine there were remains of Galileo inside.
98 years later when the church finally had to admit that Galileo was right, the Medici revealed their secret. They obtained the right to transfer his remains from their chapel to this honorable place in 1737. However after having seen the official grave ask your tourist guide to show you the wall of the Medici chapel in Santa Croce.
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