Leonardo in Vinci

The Places Behind the Genius

Leonardo was born in Vinci on April 15, 1473, the illegitimate son of notary Ser Piero da Vinci (the title Ser denoting his status as a gentleman) and a young woman named Caterina.

Leonardo's birth house Leonardo's birth house - View from outsideMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

According to a tradition which has taken root over the centuries, Leonardo was born in this countryside home in Anchiano, just outside the center of Vinci.

Leonardo's birth house Leonardo's birth house - da Vinci's family coatMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

engraving with annotation of the words of Leonardo da Vinci's grandfather, Ser Antonio da Vinci, relating to the birth and baptism of his nephew LeonardoMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Leonardo’s birth was recorded by his paternal grandfather, Antonio da Vinci, on the last page of his family memories book.
A grandson was born to me, son of my son Ser Piero, on the 15th day of April, a Saturday, at 3 in the morning. He has the name Lionardo. He was baptized by the priest Piero di Bartolomeo da Vinci, in the presence of Papino di Nanni, Meo di Tonino, Piero di Malvolto, Nanni di Venzo, Arigo di Giovanni Tedesco, Monna (Lady) Lisa di Domenico di Brettone, Monna Antonia di Giuliano, Monna Niccolosa del Barna, Monna Maria, daughter of Nanni di Venzo, and Monna Pippa di Previcone.

Florence state archives, Notarile antecosimiano (Pre-Cosimo records), 16912, c. 105v.

Telemaco Signorini, Anchiano by Telemaco SignoriniMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Since the second half of the 19th century, a visit to Vinci has been a dream for scholars, artists, academics, and enthusiastic researchers of da Vinci history, keen to revisit the places where Leonardo was born and spent his childhood.

Portret van Giuseppe Garibaldi (1828 - 1893) by Koelman, Johan PhilipRijksmuseum

These included the historian Emanuele Repetti who came to Vinci in 1845, the painter Telemaco Signorini, and the scholar Gustavo Uzielli in 1872.
According to Uzielli, Giuseppe Garibaldi, during a brief stay in Vinci in 1867 as a guest of Count Masetti at the Villa del Ferrale, would visit Leonardo’s house every morning in an attempt to acquire “something of the genius of the great man.”

Leonardo's birth house Leonardo's birth houseMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Today, Leonardo’s house, along with the Museo Leonardiano, is a museum dedicated to the great artist and man of science in the town of his birth, Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci, a genius tells his storyMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Inside the house, visitors can enjoy a thrilling encounter with Leonardo through the holographic installation Leonardo in Vinci: A genius tells his story.

Vinci VinciMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

In Vinci, the memory of Leonardo has been preserved, above all, in the form of the two buildings which are the symbol of the town: the Church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross) and the Castello dei Conti Guidi (Castle of the Guidi Counts).

The church of the Holy CrossMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

The Church of Santa Croce in the town of Vinci dates back to the 13th century. It underwent significant restoration works in the 1830s, which gave it its Neo-Renaissance appearance.

History of Salvation History of SalvationMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Inside the church, in the little baptistery created for the Leonardo quincentenary celebrations in 1952, the font in which Leonardo is believed to have been baptized is preserved.

Castello dei Conti Guidi Castello dei Conti GuidiMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

The Castello dei Conti Guidi, owned by the town of Vinci since 1924, originates from the 11th century. It was the seat of the Podestà under fascism before being divided up into living accommodation, and since 1953 has housed the rooms of the Museo Leonardiano.

View from the Castle of the Counts Guidi in VinciMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

From the top of the tower, you can admire a landscape which has changed little from the view in Leonardo’s time. In particular, the view of Montalbano and the Valdinievole at close quarters brings to mind the sketches by Leonardo in his famous early drawing named Landscape (Inv. 8P, drawings and print cabinet of the Uffizi Gallery) dating from 1473.

The Hall of the PodestàMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

The Sala del Podestà today houses some models of machines from the Museo Leonardiano collection. Leonardo was here on May 3, 1478 for the signature of a contract which made him the beneficiary of the permanent lease of the Vinci municipal mill to his uncle Francesco and his father Ser Piero.

Place where was located the mill called "Mulino della Doccia" in VinciMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

To the north of Vinci, just outside the castle walls, are traces of the place where the Mulino della Doccia once stood. Leonardo mentioned the mill in one of his drawings of gear mechanisms, now contained in the Codex Atlanticus collection.

Leonardo da Vinci, Codice Atlantico, f. 765 rMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, f. 765 r

Montalbano Mill's pathMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

There were many other mills scattered along the streams flowing down the slopes of Montalbano which Leonardo might have observed during his childhood and adolescent years in Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci, Royal Library Windsor, f. 12676Museo Leonardiano di Vinci

In this folio from Leonardo, are traces of the plan for the dam on the Serravalle basin to the east of Vinci. It clearly shows how the man of science continued to take an interest in his homeland and that, in all probability, he returned there as an adult.

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, VinciMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

According to archive sources, Giovanni, Leonardo’s half-brother, rented a building in what is today Piazza Leonardo da Vinci that was used as a tavern and a butcher’s shop.

In what is today Via Roma, in the center of Vinci, were the houses belonging to the da Vinci family in the town. In one of these houses, according to the journals of the Florentine cadastre of 1458 and 1469 (today preserved in the Florence state archives), there is evidence of the presence of the very young Leonardo who was raised here by his paternal family.

San Pantaleo ChurchMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

A few miles south of Vinci is San Pantaleo, a place where Leonardo’s mother Caterina moved after marrying Antonio di Piero di Andrea di Giovanni Buti del Vacca, known as Achattabriga.

Leonardo da Vinci, Royal Library Windsor, f. 12685 r Veduta della Valle dell'ArnoMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

Leonardo knew his home region so well that he drew it extremely accurately in his Map of the Arno Valley, which is today preserved in the Royal Library, Windsor.

Leonardo da Vinci, Royal Library Windsor, f. 12685 r Veduta della Valle dell'ArnoMuseo Leonardiano di Vinci

In this map, which dates back to the early 1500s, Leonardo also drew his home town of Vinci, very accurately depicting the town’s almond shape and the outline of the Castello dei Conti Guidi (Count Guidi Castle).

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