Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci translates as “Leonardo, son of ser Piero from Vinci”, but it is enough to say Leonardo and we think Vitruvian man, Mona Lisa, The Last Supper... Travelling around Tuscany you have a chance to visit that Vinci that Leonardo was “da” (in Italian “from”), to walk into the church where he was baptized and see for yourself the beautiful hills and the lower valley of the Arno river that nurtured the universal genius, who epitomizes the Renaissance humanistic ideal.
Leonardo was born just 3 km from Vinci city center and being at the sight we suggest paying a visit to all three locations of his museum – exhibition and his home. The route starts from Piazza dei Conti Guidi where you will find Palazzina Uzielli. The first floor houses the sectors devoted to building site machinery, textile technology and mechanical clocks.
This sector of the museum is undergoing renovation, but the most important part of the collection is there to see, although not all information is available in English and sometimes it is hard to guess what this or that creation is for, but the staff members are keen to explain the mechanics and are proud to answer your questions.
A quick 5-minute walk past the church, where the great man was baptized and you are at the Medieval Conti Guidi Castle, home to the second part of the museum. It is devoted to architecture and civil engineering, war machinery, make sure to visit the flight sector with the devices designed by Leonardo to automatically swing church bells. It is fascinating to see the working models of his inventions, all taken from his notes and drawings.
Aquatic devises, bicycles, flying objects, all sorts of machinery, created some 550 years ago without a computer or any electronic gismos, just depending on logic, calculations and will to push boundaries. Whether it is art, architecture, anatomy, physics, mechanics or medicine, Leonardo’s work is golden ratio. And it is worthwhile seeing the objects he envisioned.
After that you can drive just 3 km to the beautiful hills overlooking the city and you are in Leonardo’s childhood home. The early building dates to early 1400s, and it was property of the da Vincis for more than 150 years. The house is very small, but it has a nice interactive video-guide telling you the story of the family and the master himself.
Walk around the olive grove, surrounding the house and remember, that the landscape didn’t change, only the trees have and you are seeing the view that the great Leonardo saw every day when he was a child.
Tip: There are many free parking spots around the small town of Vinci. Just pay attention not to enter the restricted ZTL zone and park only within white lines. Closest to the museum is Via Giuseppe Rossi.
Fact: Leonardo travelled extensively during his lifetime and worked in various cities. Backdrops of his paintings usually represent hills and countryside, sometimes hinting at various Italian cities. But never documentarily. He created idealised background, drawn from imagination and many say it was inspired by the view from his childhood home.