Galileo and Andrea are in Galileo’s house and he is washing himself. Andrea brings in a model of the ‘sky’ where the Earth is the center of the universe. Galileo begins a lesson with Andrea. He is trying to teach him to not accept everything that is said. He is trying to teach him to think outside of the box and show his that people aren’t always right. Using an iron washstand to represent the sun and Andrea witting on a chair to represent the earth, he shows that the sun doesn’t have to move for it to appear in a different position. Galileo states, “the chair moved and you’re on it. Mrs. Sarti, Andrea’s mother, enters and tells him not to steal lessons from Galileo because he can’t afford it. She exits and soon after presents Ludovico. Ludovico wants to be taught by Galileo in order to hold intelligent conversation. Ludovico then tells Galileo of an instrument he saw in Amsterdam. He describes it, “A tube affair ‘See things five times as large as life!’ It had two lenses, one at each end, one lens bulged and the other was like that. (gesture.) Any normal person would think that diggerent lenses cancel each other out. They didn’t! I just stood and looked a fool.” The curator arrives and tells Galileo that he was unable to secure his extra money because he has been unable to give the church/ government anything they can use. Galileo tells the curator that he has an idea for another invention. He writes something down on a piece of paper and tells Andrea to go buy purchase two lenses.
The scene opens with a large group of people who are interested in investing in Galileo’s invention of the telescope. Galileo addresses the members of the high senate and introduces his telescope. Sagredo and Galileo hold a conversation to the side now. Galileo says that he has found that the moon gives off none of it’s own light. The curator than introduces Virginia, Galileo’s daughter, who presents the telescope to the senate. The senate is very impressed with his invention.
It is 1610 in his study in Padua. Galileo and Sagredo look through a telescope at the moon. They are concluding that the light from the sun is bouncing off of the moon and reaching Earch. They are able to do so as they observe the light shining on mountains on the surface of the moon. They also discover other planets between the Earth and Jupiter. Galileo explains to Sagredo that he observed several moons orbiting around Jupiter. They begin to argue about telling the world of Galileo’s discoveries. Sagredo says that just because Galileo has proof doesn’t mean that the church will be willing to change their ways. He says, “Galileo, you are traveling the road to disaster. You are suspicious and skeptical in science, but in politics you are as naïve as your daughter. However, Galileo refuses to listen to him.
Galileo goes to Florence where he tries to convince the prince and the mathematicians and Philosophers to let him prove his theories. They argue with him on the basis, “if nothing is broken, don’t fix it.” They don’t like change so they don’t want to know the truth if it won’t get them anywhere. Throughout this scene Galileo pleads with them to just look through the telescope. The chamberlain announces that his Highness will seek the opinion of Christopher Clavius, Chief Astronomer to the Papal College in Rome.
Monks and scholars are all gathered in a room mocking Galileo’s theories. An Old Cardinal enters and says that God made everything like he did and we are not meant to understand it. At the end of the scene a little monk enters and announces to Galileo, “Mr. Galileo, I heard Father Clavius say: ‘Now it’s for the theologians to set the heavens right again.’ You have won.”
Galileo and his daughter, the recent fiancé, to Ludevico enter into a reception type of area. Galileo asks a secretary when ‘His Eminence’. Two cardinals, Bellarmin and Barberini enter. At first their actions seem innocent. But soon they begin to attack Galileo and what he is trying to change. Galileo, being backed into a corner, begins to attack the church and god. They threaten Galileo to recant his theories or suffer a painful consequence. They take Galileo out and The inquisitor enters and speaks with Virginia. The inquisitor says that one of these days her father will need her. Then they part.
Galileo holds a conversation with a little monk. The monk tells Galileo that he if giving up astronomy. At first Galileo mocks him, but the monk explains that he came from a very simple family. His father and mother work in a farm environment and suffer through many hardships. If they were to learn that the Earth was not at the center of the universe and that it would break them and make life hard to carry on. Galileo says that without new learning and new thought life cannot improve and become better. He tells the monk that he has a paper on what draws the ocean when it ebbs and flows. The monk takes up the manuscript and Galileo begins to explain it to him.
Mrs. Sarti and Virginia introduce Galileo’s new group of experiments, floating bodies. They also talk to Viginia’s wedding with Ludovico. Mrs. Sarti tell her that she should go see a real astronomer who will read her horoscope and tell her where she stands. She has already gone and she explains this to Mrs. Sarti. A philosopher named Rector enters and tells Galileo of a new discovery, sun spots. Galileo’s students and colleagues ask him if he will take up the project, but Galileo avoids it. He says, “I cannot afford to be smoked on a wood fire like a ham.” He is basically afraid of the church. He is allowed live and continue with his experiments as long as the church agrees. Ludovico arrives and tells everyone that he was in town. Galileo tells Ludovico of his current experiments involving ice and water when Ludovico reveals to him that the Holy Father is on his death bed. Ludovico tells Galileo that he has not married his daughter for these 8 years because his family did not want a bad name, if Galileo was to continue his heritical experiments. Galileo tells Andrea to get out the screen so the image of the sun will not hurt their eyes. Seeing that Galileo has once again taken up his passion, Ludovico leaves and says he should not see Virginia. Galileo and his colleagues begin focusing on the experiments. Virginia returns with her wedding dress and her veil. She realizes what has happened and faints. All but Federzoni rush to her.
It is now April Fool’s Day 1632 and there was a festival about science. They made fun of Galileo and his teachings and there was ballad singers making fun of Galileo’s beliefs and teachings.
Galileo and Virginia go to the Medicean palace in Florence. They stand waiting in a reception area. They are ignored by acquaintances from the past. A man, Matti, stops to speak with them. He tells Galileo that he is on his side. He states, “I am not a man who knows about the stars, but you have championed the right to teach new things.” Matti exits and Galileo is met by the Lord Chamberlain. He informs Galileo that he will not be able to meet with the Prince. He than informs them that the Florentine Court is no longer in a position to oppose the request of the Holy Inquisition to interrogate you in Rome.
The Pope and the Inquisitor hold a conversation in a chamber in the Varican. The Pope says that he will have to tell the people that the bible can no longer be considered the alphabet of truth. After more discussion they resolve to make Galileo recant his theories to regain a foothold on society. The plan is to show Galileo their instruments of torture.
On June 22, 1633. Virginia is praying and Galileo’s assistants are awaiting the news of the trial. They hold conversations among one another about whether Galileo will recant or not. A town crier enters and announces that Galileo has admitted to being wrong. Andrea is disappointed with him. The scene ends with Andrea saying, “’Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero’”, and Galileo responds, “No Andrea: ‘Unhappy is the land that needs a hero’”
Virginia receives a goose from a peasant who said that it came from someone passing through. Galileo has lost much of his eyesight. Virginia has become his caretaker and is helping his write something not relating to his science. Andrea has come to visit him. Galileo seeks information from Andrea about the workings of the outside world. Andrea has turned against Galileo for turning his back on everything he once believed in. However, Galileo tells Andrea that he has finished his ‘Discorsi’. He gives his hidden papers to Andrea to spread and keep the revolution alive. Andrea gains back all lost faith and says that he recanted so he would be able to continue the revolution and write a book only he could write. Galileo tells him that there is no such thing as a book only one man can write and that he recanted because he was afraid of physical pain and it wasn’t a plan. Virginia re-enters with Galileo’s meal. Andrea leaves with Galileo’s writings and Galileo and Virginia are left alone while Galileo eats.
Andrea is getting papers to take a journey. A custom’s officer asks him about his books and Andrea says they are only mathematical figures. Andrea observes the actions of several children. They are stealing the milk from the doorstep of a woman they are calling a witch. The boy says that she is a witch as he sees the woman’s shadow. Andrea offers to lift him up to the window so he can really see what she is. Once the boy sees the girl making porridge he realizes that what he said about a cauldron and hell broth wasn’t really true. As Andrea receives his papers and is leaving the boy kicks over the bottle of milk and shouts after Andrea, “ she is a witch! She is a witch!” Andrea replys, “You saw with your own eyes: think it over.” The boys begin singing a song about the poor girl as a witch. The customs officer laughs and Andrea leaves.