Sep 19 - Oct 4, 2019
16 days
$9,270per person, twin share (land content only). $2,280 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Prof. Robert Clancy
Sep 19 - Oct 4, 2019

Tour Leader

Prof. Robert Clancy
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


Explore the history of science from Vesalius in Padua, to Galileo in Florence and the flourishing of modern science in Paris and London. This 16-day private tour for the Royal Society of NSW in conjunction with The State Library of NSW Foundation includes guided visits to many exceptional museums, rare access to collections, libraries and archival material, and the expert guidance of specialists and curators. It follows the great story of modern science, taking you from Padua, to Florence, Paris and London and includes day trips to Bologna, Siena and Cambridge. A four-night pre-tour extension to Venice is also available.


  • The birth of modern science, from Galileo’s telescopes to Darwin’s theory of evolution
  • The history of medicine: Vesalius in Padua, Pasteur in Paris and the medical collections of London
  • The transmission of knowledge, from rare books and manuscripts to the modern museum
  • The history of the university at Padua, Bologna, Paris and Cambridge
  • Interaction between the arts and sciences in moments of great change from the Renaissance to the modern world


  • Special access to library collections in Florence, Paris and London
  • Private tour of the Pompidou Centre, Paris’ modern art museum
  • Day trips to Siena, Bologna, Cambridge and Greenwich
  • Specialist museums dedicated to Pasteur, Curie and Galileo
  • London science: from the manuscripts of the Wellcome Library to the National Science Museum
  • Down House in Kent, the home of Charles Darwin
  • Paris’ Ars at Metiers – an exceptional museum with Foucault’s Pendulum and Lavosier’s laboratory

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–3: Arrive Padua; visit the world’s oldest anatomy theatre and oldest botanic garden, visit Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto’s masterpiece; day trip to Bologna.

Days 4–6: Explore Florence, including the Galileo Museum, Uffizi Gallery, and special access to rare collections. Enjoy a day trip to Siena and the wonderful cuisine of Chianti.

Days 7–10: Discover a different side of Paris, from special museums dedicated to Pasteur and Curie to a private tour of the Pompidou Centre.

Days 11–15: Arrive London. Enjoy visits to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, the National Observatory and prime meridian at Greenwich, and a range of museums from the Museum of Natural History, to the private collection of the Royal College of Physicians. Take a day trip to Cambridge.

Day 16: Departure.

Detailed Itinerary

Start & Finish

Emirates and Qatar both offer the best connections into Venice and out of London. Contact us for quotes and bookings.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.

Thursday 19 September: Arrival

The tour begins in the hotel in the late afternoon, when we meet for a stroll around Padua, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. (D)

Friday 20 September: Padua

Padua’s university is among the oldest in Europe, and the first to specialise in medicine. Today we explore the birth of modern science in Padua, beginning with the Scrovegni chapel, a masterpiece by Giotto whose realism and naturalism heralded a different way of looking at the world around us. We then tour the University of Padua, seeing the podium from which Galileo lectured and the oldest surviving anatomy theatre. In the afternoon, we visit Padua’s World Heritage-listed Botanic Gardens, the oldest surviving garden of its type, which began as a simples garden and developed in the Renaissance to a genuinely modern botanic garden. Our tour includes its fabulous new garden of biodiversity, in which 1,300 species show how plants have helped make human history. Overnight, Padua. (B)

Saturday 21 September: Bologna

Bologna is Europe’s oldest university, and was established in the Middle Ages to teach canon and civil law. Today its campuses are spread throughout the city, whose red-stone arcades, cafes and medieval buildings accentuate the calm, leisurely atmosphere of a thriving university town. Our visit includes a tour of the University’s Palazzo Poggi, the historic seat of Bologna’s Academy of Sciences, and the medieval centre. In the afternoon, we visit the museum devoted to the city’s premier modern artist, Giorgio Morandi, whose still life paintings offer a meditation against the pace of modern life. In the later afternoon, we continue by coach to Florence. Dinner is in an excellent local restaurant. Overnight, Florence. (B, D)

Sunday 22 September: Galileo

The Medici Grand Dukes, who ruled Tuscany from the 16th-18th centuries, were avid supporters of science (some of them were also keen practitioners too). The most famous scientist they patronised – and protected from the hands of the detractors – was Galileo, who lived and worked in Florence for long periods throughout his life. This morning we have a guided visit of the Galileo Museum, which contains some of Galileo’s telescopes and other scientific apparata, as well as a fine collection of navigational and cartographic instruments, which reflect Florence’s key role in the birth of modern cartography. The afternoon is free and you may wish to visit some of Florence’s excellent museums, such as the recently renovated Museo del Opera del Duomo, with masterpieces by Donatello, Ghiberti and Michelangelo. Overnight Florence (B)

Monday 23 September: Siena

Today we step back in time to the late Middle Ages, to explore the culture that laid the foundations for a recognisably modern society based on democratic participation in politics and commerce. In Siena we visit the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall of the independent republic of Siena, to see the wonderful frescoes of Lorenzetti, which allegorise good and bad government and their effects. In the afternoon, we see how this society sat side-by-side with religious devotion, by visiting the Cathedral, with its 16th-century library painted by the master of Raphael, and Santa Maria della Scala, the publically funded pilgrim hospice that became one of Europe’s first modern hospitals. In the evening, we return to Florence, stopping to enjoy dinner in the Chianti valley. Overnight Florence (B, D)

Tuesday 24 September: Art, Science & Welfare in Florence

There is much more to Florence than the great artists of the Renaissance. This morning we explore other aspects of the city’s remarkable history. At Santa Maria Nuova and the Ospedale degl’ Innocenti – the foundling hospital – we see how Renaissance Florentines applied contemporary science to the welfare of the city’s poor and vulnerable. Our visits include access to area not normally accessible to the public, including the archive of the Innocenti. In the afternoon we continue exploring the city’s relationship to science at the Uffizi, with a guided tour focussed on science in Renaissance art, which reveals the extent to which the arts and sciences cross pollinated each other during the Renaissance. Overnight Florence (B)

Wednesday 25 September: To Paris

This morning we take the short, direct flight from Florence to Paris. In the afternoon, we visit two exceptional museums in Paris focussed on our relationship to the natural world: the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort and the Musée de la Chasse. The Fragonard has the best collections of veterinary and comparative anatomy in Paris, along with some very peculiar pieces including a mummified man on horseback deliberately fashioned after a woodcut by Durer. The Musée de la Chasse, another little-visited gem whose curation is among the most highly praised in Paris, explores the relationship between people and animals through the lens of hunting. In the late afternoon, we check into our hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight Paris (B)

Thursday 26 September: Arts and Sciences in Paris

As the intellectual centre of Europe from the 17th to 20th centuries, Paris has been the epicentre of movements that have shaped the modern world. This morning we enjoy a private, before hours visit of the Pompidou, Paris’ Museum of Modern Art, with its exceptional collection of masterpieces by artists who ushered the greatest changes in visual arts since the Renaissance. After our tour, there is time to explore the Marais district, before we meet to visit the Musée des Arts et Metiers, whose collections include Lavosier’s laboratory, Foucault’s pendulum, applied sciences and marvels of engineering from the modern age. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Paris. (B)

Friday 27 September: Bibliotheque National, and Medicine in Paris

This morning we have a special visit to the collections of the Bibliothéque National, during which we see a selection of the manuscripts, maps and collections devoted to science and cartography. In the afternoon we explore the history of medicine in Paris, with visits to three excellent small museums devoted to Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur and the collection of the Descartes Medical University. This evening we enjoy dinner at a fine Paris restaurant. Overnight Paris. (B, D)

Saturday 28 September: Natural Sciences

The contribution to the natural sciences made by France are often overlooked in the Anglophone world, and is almost always neglected by the millions of tourists who visit Paris each year. Today we explore the natural sciences by visiting the accretion of museums around Paris’ Jardin des Plantes, including the Grand Gallery of Evolution and the Museum of Natural Science. You may wish to also visit the Great Mosque over the road. Built in 1926 to honour the Muslim soldiers who fought for France in WWI, it is a wondrous fusion of Art Nouveau and Islamic architecture. The afternoon is at leisure. Overnight Paris (B)

Sunday 29 September: Darwin

This morning we take the Eurostar to London. On arrival at St Pancras, we will travel by coach to Down House in Kent, the family home of Charles Darwin and where he wrote Origin of Species. The house and gardens have been kept in excellent condition, and provide insight into the life, times and scientific endeavours of one of the most revolutionary figures in the history of science. In the later afternoon, we travel by coach to Chandos House in London. Designed by Robert Adam, it is owned by the Royal Society of Medicine, and it is where we’ll reside for the next five nights. Overnight London. (B)

Monday 30 September: London Science

London has some of the world’s best science museums, including a number of smaller ones owned by esteemed institutions or dedicated to the work of individual scientists. We begin our tour today with a visit to the Wellcome Collection – it is one of London’s most innovative museums, and it aims to foster discussion about health and wellbeing. The heart of the exhibition is the collection of Sir Henry Wellcome, who invented invisible ink and the tablet as an easy means of delivering medicine from the pharmacy to the stomach. We continue our tour with a visit to the archive and gallery of the Royal Institute. The heritage building and museum have been home to centuries of England’s brightest minds and our tour includes a visit to the Faraday Museum which, in addition to Faraday’s basement laboratory, has other iconic inventions in its care, including the original vacuum flask and the world’s first laser. Evening at leisure. Overnight London (B)

Tuesday 1 October: Greenwich

The accurate measurement of time and location is the foundations of modern navigation, and Greenwich was chosen by Sir Christopher Wren as the place to build the Royal Observatory to enable both. Its importance to British maritime interests was reinforced by the transition of the Greenwich naval hospital into the Royal Naval College, where generations of naval officers trained. Today we visit Greenwich to take a walking tour exploring its history and visiting the Royal Observatory, followed by some time at leisure to enjoy the museums. In the mid-afternoon, we return to central London along the Thames. Evening at leisure. Overnight London. (B)

Wednesday 2 October: Cambridge

Today we take a day trip to Cambridge, to explore the history of the university and to visit its exceptional museums. Our tour includes a guided visit of the Sedgwick Museum – Cambridge’s oldest museum, whose foundation predates the geologist after which it is named – for its historic collections of fossils, geological and mineralogical specimens. The import of the earth sciences in the broader history of science is often underestimated, but what geologists such as Sedgwick revealed about the age and formation of the earth was vitally important to the paradigm shift epitomised by Darwin’s theories. After touring the Sedgwick and other museums in Cambridge, we return to London. Evening at leisure. Overnight London. (B)

Thursday 3 October: The Science Museum

London’s Science Museum is one of the finest in the world, for both its collections, which cater for all ages and interests, and its excellent curation. Today we have a guided visit of the museum with David Rooney, celebrated author, former Keeper of Technologies and Engineering of the Science Museum, and former curator Timekeeping at the Royal Observatory. Our tour of the museum with David ends at the Clockmakers museum, housed inside the Science Museum, after which the afternoon is free for you to further explore these vast collections. In the early evening we enjoy a farewell meal at a superior London restaurant. Overnight, London (B, D)

Friday 4 October: Departure

The tour ends in the hotel after breakfast this morning. There is a group transfer to the airport available for those taking early afternoon flights. Please check your individual travel arrangements. (B)

Prof. Robert Clancy

A member of the Royal Society of NSW and the Royal Society of Medicine. He has had a distinguished career in medicine as a clinical researcher.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy (AM) is a member of the Royal Society of NSW and the Royal Society of Medicine. He has had a distinguished career as a clinical research in mucosal immunology and oral vaccines, and was the Foundation Professor of Pathology at Newcastle University. Robert is a Renaissance man, with wide ranging interests and expertise, including the histories of science and medicine. He has a special interest in historic cartography and has published two books on the early cartography of Australia and Antarctica. He was appointed the Order of Australia for his services to cartography.

Robert has led numerous tours, including five to Europe focussed on the history of medicine, and ten to the Spice Islands and Antarctica.

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Hotels in the city centre throughout the tour offer convenience to sites we visit, comfort and modern conveniences.

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity

Booking conditions

You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 60 days before departure: $500*
  • 60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
  • 44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due

*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.

Unused Portions of the tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Travel Insurance

Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.

Passport and Visa

A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.

Will the tour price change?

If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.

Will the itinerary change?

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

Final Payment

Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.

Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details


A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed below if you wish to make a booking.

Hold a Place Download Booking Form

Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Jamal Fairbrother 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

Next Departure

If these dates don't work for you, register to hear about the next tour.


Please keep me informed about the next departure of this tour.

Hold a Place

Thank you for your interest in this tour. We are happy to hold a tentative place for seven days while you make your final arrangements to come on tour.


Sign up to our mailing list for tour updates and latest news.