Photo ©Bernd Thaller
Three days in the lands of Leonardo da Vinci
From Anchiano to Florence in the footsteps of the Renaissance genius
65 km
3 giorni

Artist, inventor and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest geniuses in the world and one of the symbols of the Renaissance.

Author of immortal works such as the Gioconda but also of anticipatory inventions like his flying machines or the prototype of a bicycle, Leonardo applied himself with extraordinary results in all the arts and sciences known at that time.

We recommend a three-day itinerary in the footsteps of the great humanist, which starts from his native land, in Empolese Valdelsa, and arrives in Florence, where he moved very young to work as a trainee in the Verrocchio workshop.

First day
From Anchiano to Vinci
At Leonardo's Birthplace
At Leonardo's Birthplace - Credit: Francisco Schmidt

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 from a secret relationship between the notary Piero di Vinci, of whom he was the firstborn, and Caterina, a woman from a humble family. He was raised in the paternal house where he was born, in Anchiano, a small village a few kilometers from Vinci, nestled between the hills and olive groves of Montalbano.

Here today you can visit the Birthplace of Leonardo, where the museum traces the history of his life and artistic production, with the help of multimedia installations.

From Anchiano we move to Vinci to visit the Museo Leonardiano, housed in the Palazzina Uzielli and the Castello dei Conti Guidi. Over eighty machines and instruments made from the Leonardian models are showcased there, as well as his brilliant studies on human anatomy. Among the most interesting inventions, we find the war machines and the self-propelled wagon and then you can take a break on the terrace of the castle to enjoy a splendid view of the hills of Montalbano.

Moreover, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Church of Santa Croce, where there is still the source used for the christening of Leonardo, and the Biblioteca Leonardiana, an international study center that preserves all Leonardo's codes.

Second Day
In the Padule di Fucecchio
 - Credit: Enrico Zarri

On the second day, we move to a corner of Montalbano and Valdinievole that Leonardo knew very well: the Padule di Fucecchio. In fact, the artist successfully dedicated himself to cartography, drawing maps of this territory and in general of the whole Valdarno. He studied for forty years to find the way to divert the river on Prato and Pistoia, creating navigable tracks that would have helped the river transport and also prevented the floods. A grandiose but never accomplished utopia.

The Padule di Fucecchio recurs in many Leonardo’s codes and is also recognizable in the famous "Landscape" drawing of 1473. Today it is the largest Italian internal swamp and a beautiful nature reserve, a birdwatching paradise where you can spot over 200 species of birds, from herons to cranes. This is the ideal place for a day immersed in nature, with a guided tour and a boat.

Third Day
Florence: Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio
 - Credit: Livioandronico2013

It's time to move to Florence to find some of the works of art painted by Leonardo that have remained in the Tuscan capital. In the Uffizi Gallery, some of his first masterpieces are preserved, they were made before moving to Milan in 1482 at the court of Ludovico il Moro. Here is the Baptism of Christ, depicted together with this master Verrocchio, where the Leonardian touch is recognized in the angel's head on the left and in the fading landscape.

In the beautiful “Annunciation” (1472) Leonardo's love for nature inspired his pictorial art: the landscape in the background is enchanting, the shape of the angel's wings are represented in a perfect way, as if they were a real bird’s wings.

Finally, we find the Adoration of the Magi (1481). The work was commissioned for the church of San Donato in Scopeto, near Florence, and remained unfinished when Leonardo moved to Milan: thanks to a long restoration made by the famous Opificio delle Pietre Dure, you can admire the techniques the genius used during his creative process.

The day ends with a visit to Palazzo della Signoria. In the Salone dei Cinquecento, at the time called Sala del Gran Consiglio, there was a large mural painted by Leonardo, the legendary Battle of Anghiari, dated 1503. Unfortunately, the work has disappeared when the hall was redecorated by Giorgio Vasari: it has been destroyed or hidden under a plaster or a new wall. This mystery hasn’t already been solved by the art historians!