Following Leonardo da Vinci's footsteps in Italy

While it is true that many of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works are abroad (think the Louvre), Italy retains an astonishing "collection" of his genius. Unrivaled works of art, but also technological inventions that would make today's tech geniuses pale.  But also architecture and sculptures, treaties of anatomy and on the most disparate fields of general knowledge.


In Tuscany where he was born

Born in Vinci in 1452, Leonardo was sent young to Florence in the workshop of Verrocchio, a forge of art talents, where he learned pictorial and sculptural techniques and theories.

His first certain work dated and signed in 1473 is the drawing ''Paesaggio con fiume'' (Landscape with river) now exposed in the Cabinet of drawings and prints of the Uffizi. Still at the Uffizi you can see many of his works including the famous Annunciazione, of which there is a second smaller version preserved in the Louvre, and the unfinished Adoration of the Magi.

But Tuscany celebrates its great genius also, or above all, in Vinci. Start with a visit to the Leonardo Museum, which focuses attention on its inventions, including war machines, instruments and revolving cranes.  Continue your tour to discover the works of contemporary art that the village has dedicated to him. Like the Piazza dei Guidi designed by Mimmo Paladino.

Keep going and, after three kilometers, you'll find Anchiano, Leonardo's birthplace. Here a life-size Leonardo hologram meets visitors, telling images, memories and landscapes of his life between Vinci and Florence.
Birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci
Casa Natale di Leonardo | © AlbaCiC/WikiCommons
 


In Milan, where he spent most of his life

Leonardo's relationship with Milan was long and productive: he spent 17 years at the court of Ludovico il Moro.

It is not for nothing that the Museum of Science and Technology is named after him. And any tour of Leonardo should start here.

The museum houses dozens of Leonardo's machines whose sketch versions are contained in many of the treaties preserved at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, another cult place for fans of the Tuscan genius.

Another Milanese stop is the Cenacolo Vinciano. A visit to the Last Supper is a must for anyone walking in the city, but needs to be booked well in advance.

But the Leonardo genius is also made of architecture and great works. So much so that many often attribute to Leonardo the design of Milan's water canals.

In reality the canal system has much older origins, but it is certain that between 1506 and 1513 da Vinci studied the San Marco basin for a long time to find the way to connect the Martesana Canal with a system of locks and channels.

His project was beautiful: connecting the river Adda with the Ticino in an extraordinary system of canals.

But this was not the only one unfinished project. Famous is the story of the bronze statue of Leonardo's horse that Ludovico il Moro commissioned him, but which was never completed except in a partial version today exposed at the entrance of the Hippodrome.
 
 

Vigevano

We find many traces of Leonardo's passage also in Vigevano and surroundings (province of Pavia).

The permanence of Leonardo in these areas is well documented and the evidence of his cultural heritage are many. Starting from the stable of the Castello Sforzesco, the covered and the elevated roads. And then there is the Piazza Ducale that, undeniably, recalls Leonardo's drawings of the ideal city.  

The water mill of Mora Bassa dell'Est Sesia, a fifteenth-century residence and meeting place between Ludovico il Moro and Cecilia Gallerani (the Lady with the Ermine), today hosts a permanent exhibition on Leonardo's machines.

And at the castle of Vigevano is another Leonardo museum. An interactive institution that proposes a journey through life and the works of the Tuscan genius.

In the Vatican City

One of the most intriguing works for its complexity and attention to anatomy is found instead at the Vatican Art Gallery. This is the  oil painting of San Girolamo il Penitente (St Jerome in the Wilderness). Dating around 1480 and, as many works by Leonardo, this also is not finished, but it contains in itself many of the characteristics later developed by Leonardo. From the details of the body to the surrounding landscape.
St Jerome in the Wilderness
St Jerome in the Wilderness - Leonardo Da Vinci - WikiCommons license