Leonardo da Vinci Celebration
LEONARDO 2019 Celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci (1519 - 2019)
In Vinci, the Leonardo site par excellence, the exhibition Leonardo in Vinci. At the Origins of the Genius is centered on Leonardo’s biographical connection to his hometown and on the suggestions that his homeland offered toward his itinerary as an artist, technician, and scientist. In this perspective, some documents from the Archivio di Stato di Firenze (Florence State Archives) are presented, fundamental for the reconstruction of the earliest events in the life of the Master, along with the first drawing known to have been executed by Leonardo, the Landscape, dated 5 August 1473, conserved at the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe of the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence.
Of great suggestiveness within the biographical section is the display of Leonardo’s great-grandfather’s notary register. On the last page of this book, Leonardo’s grandfather Antonio da Vinci recorded, after the notation of his own sons’ birth, the event of the birth of Leonardo, his first grandson, along with the land registry references of the da Vinci family pertinent to the artist’s infancy and early childhood. In the section dedicated to the youthful drawing of the 1473 Landscape, identified as a representation of the Valdinievole and of a part of the Valdarno Inferiore, we see a record of the suggestions offered to the young Leonardo by his homeland. The image, in fact, constitutes a veritable “palimpsest” of all of Leonardo’s future work, in that it is already possible to glimpse therein his profound interest in nature, his fascination for water and its swirling movements, his researches in the fields of geology and cartography. In this context, the drawing can be read from several points of view, from the historical-artistic to the historical-geographic, highlighting the thematic elements present in relation to Leonardo’s successive scientific, technical, and engineering inquiries.
The itinerary includes multimedia presentations and reconstructions of projects by Leonardo relating to the territory around Vinci and the Valdarno Inferiore. Set up in the Castello dei Conti Guidi, one of the Museo Leonardiano’s three sites, the exhibition is thus integrated with the portion of the Museum’s collection of machines and models relating to studies on water, hydraulic engineering, and cartographic representation of the Valdarno Inferiore.
The Leonardian Celebrations
The exhibition is part of the review of Leonardian Celebrations, a calendar of events and initiatives dedicated each year by the city of Vinci to its most renowned citizen, Leonardo da Vinci, between the anniversaries of his birth and death (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519).
Opening the review is the Lettura Vinciana, the historic conference held annually by an internationally renowned Leonardo scholar.
The lands of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci’s presence in the territory of the Union of Municipalities Empolese Valdelsa (including the municipalities of Vinci, Empoli, Castelfiorentino, Cerreto Guidi, Certaldo, Fucecchio, Gambassi, Limite e Capraia, Montaione, Montelupo Fiorentino) is felt even today, and it stands at the basis of the tourist itinerary that traces its path starting from his hometown, Vinci.
For the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, in 2019 the municipalities of the area are collaborating on a project known as “Leonardo 2019”, which will include initiatives of cultural interest and relating to showcasing the entire territory, distributed into macro-areas: Museums and places of cultural interest; School and training; Innovation and business.
One of the main elements of the project is the theme of landscape, expressed in various manners, in accordance with particular research paths: from the famous Landscape drawing created by Leonardo in 1473, which will be on display in the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci, to Leonardo’s studies on the Arno and the
Valdelsa territory, and further on, to an itinerary touching on the places frequented by the master from Vinci.
It was in these lands, in fact, that Leonardo carried out his first geo-paleontological observations, laid the foundations for his studies on waters, carried forward the hydraulic projects that resulted in his cartographic representations of the Valdarno, and, at the same time, certainly, found inspiration for his drawings and celebrated paintings.
The showcasing of the Leonardo-Empolese Valdelsa landscape relationship will therefore be represented through the realization of exhibitions in various museums of the territory, as well as by the organization of initiatives of an informative nature and the drafting of an attractive calendar of events. For more information on the territory: www.toscananelcuore.it
An itinerary dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci in his hometown
In Vinci, Leonardo’s birthplace, an striking cultural itinerary invites you to discover and explore various aspects of the life and vast work of the master from Vinci.
At Anchiano, about 3 km from the village of Vinci, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves typical of the Tuscan countryside garden, we find LA CASA NATALE (THE BIRTH HOUSE) where, according to a centuries-old tradition, Leonardo was born in 1452, on “Saturday 15 April, at the third hour of the night”. Here a life-sized hologram reproducing the features of the artist-scientist invites us to listen to Leonardo’s words in a touching story, in reverse order, of his extraordinary life and of his relationship with this land. Also in this dwelling there are multimedia applications dedicated to his paintings and graphics, in particular, to the Last Supper, which can be thoroughly explored by following several different paths of investigation.
Leaving the birth house and heading toward Vinci, there is a must-see attraction at the Villa del Ferrale, where the exhibition and didactic section LEONARDO AND HIS PAINTING has been set up since June 2018, with its extremely high definition, life-sized reproductions of all the artist’s paintings: gathered here in one single location, you can observe, face to face, copies of masterpieces such as the Adoration of the Magi, the Mona Lisa, the Lady with an Ermine, the Virgin of the Rocks, and other paintings, some better-known, some less well-known to the general public, accompanied by texts, interactive exhibits, and explanatory videos.
On arriving to Vinci, our attention is captured immediately by the high tower of the Castle of the Counts Guidi, which undoubtedly dominated the village even during Leonardo’s time, and by the bell tower of the Church of Santa Croce, conserving even today the baptismal font used for Leonardo’s baptism. In his city and in the surrounding countryside (his mother lived in the nearby hamlet of San Pantaleo), the Master almost certainly remained all through his childhood years, returning there several times even after moving to Florence. Right in the Castle tower, for example, his presence is attested to by his signature dated 1478 on an act regarding the concession of a mill to his uncle, Francesco da Vinci.
Today the rooms of the Castle of the Counts Guidi and those of the nearby Palazzina Uzielli house the MUSEO LEONARDIANO, the oldest collection of machines and models dedicated entirely to the work of Leonardo. From studies on flights to those on water, from construction site machinery to engines of war, and on to the brilliant innovations for modernizing operations of spinning and weaving, today the vastness and complexity of the interests of the genius from Vinci is scientifically documented within the Museum. Not far away is the Biblioteca Leonardiana, the international center for documentation and studies of Leonardo da Vinci, where facsimile copies are conserved of all of Leonardo’s codices (visit by advance request).
On foot on the trail of Leonardo
The countryside surrounding Vinci and the Birth House at Anchiano was doubtlessly the first great source of inspiration for the young Leonardo. The wooded slopes of Montalbano which give way—today, as then—first to olive groves, then to vineyards, as we gradually make our way down the hillside, are the unmistakable elements of the landscape providing the background for the childhood of the Genius. Entering into this natural environment, still very similar to that which Leonardo himself explored, means taking a journey back in time and putting ourselves into the shoes of the young artist, at the point when he was grappling with his first empirical observations on nature and on the elements.
Walking on foot or by bicycle through the numerous hiking trails that climb toward the ridge of Montalbano, or that wind along local roads through the hills and along the valley floor, we can now retrace Leonardo’s footsteps. A short distance from the Birth House at Anchiano, the Sentiero dei mulini (the Mill Path, n.16) runs along the torrential Vincio and the gorge of Balenaia, inviting us to follow the swirling flow of water. Until the 1950s, this was exploited by the many water mills which are found along the way. It is not difficult to imagine how Leonardo’s fascination for water may have originated right on the banks of this torrent and, possibly, through observing with curiosity the operation of the mills, infrastructures we often find represented in his manuscripts. Going down toward Vinci, you can take the Strada Verde (the Green Route, n. 14), an itinerary that winds through vineyards and olive groves, which connected the country residences with the town centuries ago. It is not unusual even today to find small fossils here, evidence of the most remote past of this area, whose origin was intuited by Leonardo himself. Leaving Vinci and following itinerary 12 C, you can eventually reach the locality of San Pantaleo where Leonardo’s mother, Caterina, lived, after her marriage with Antonio di Piero Buti del Vacca, called "l'Achattabriga" (“the trouble-seeker”). It is likely that, during the years when he lived in the houses in the village owned by the da Vinci family, the young Leonardo traveled along this very road to visit his mother and brothers, possibly stopping along the way to observe and to draw some detail of the extraordinary nature that surrounded him, never ceasing to fascinate him.
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