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"The Man from Vinci"

Vinci Street Scene

Countryside near Vinci

Welcome to Vinci
Birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci

Contributed by Katherine Lavallee

Population: 13,765 (2001)
Official website: Vinci
Wikipedia: Vinci

Map: MapQuest

Deep in the Tuscan countryside lays the remote gem of Vinci.  These small Tuscan towns seem shrouded in mystery and romance rising from the valleys.  Vinci is no exception. 

This hilltop village offers it all-a castle, a great museum, narrow twisting alleyways and all the ambiance in the world.   It is also the birthplace of the master Leonardo di Vinci. After visiting Vinci you understand what inspired him.

Learn more about Leonardo da Vinci

Park on the outskirts of town and explore on foot.  The first glimpse of Leonardo, a large wooden sculpture of the Vitruvian man welcomes you to town.  The square, overlooking the steep valley below, provides a spectacular view. Vinciís origins go all the back to the Etruscans.

The castle, originally built in the Middle Ages, fell to Florence in 1254 and Vinci became a borough of the superpower.  It was the site of many battles between Florence and their enemies to the west such as Pisa.  Today Vinci looks almost the same as it did in the days of the Medici, but the 14,000 people living in Vinci and its surrounding hills enjoy a peaceful life.

The castle, known as ďThe Shipís CastleĒ because of its shape, houses the fantastic museum Il Museo Leonardiano Di Vinci.   This truly unique museum focuses on Leonardoís mechanical, scientific and engineering inventions.  The exhibits display Leonardoís work through models constructed according to the original dimensions.

Itís easy to get overwhelmed by art in Tuscany and this museum is like a breath of fresh air.   The pieces, displayed over two floors, are explained in a variety of languages including English.  Computers in every room give visitors a chance to view short video presentations, play interactive games or just read more information. 

The models cover everything from constructing a domed building, to cars and planes, to underwater suits. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of this museum is Leonardoís own notes and drawings are displayed showing his ideas from paper to reality.   For those who canít get enough of the details of Leonardoís work, across the street is the Leonardo Library which houses a complete collection of his notes and essays.  These museums allow visitors to glimpse the depth of Di Vinciís genius.

The castle is the gateway to this great little village.  Near the museum stands the church of Santa Croce.  It is here local legend has it that Leonardo was baptized.  The Romanesque church modified several times over the years still retains its old world charm.  As with many Tuscan towns, simply exploring the tiny streets, stairways and alleyways is an attraction in and of itself.

It seems as if something wonderful is around every corner.  Along Vinciís main street a few small but delightful restaurants and gift shops offer all kinds of unique gifts and treats.  Visitors should try some of Vinciís excellent extra virgin olive oil or the Chianti Putto Montalbano, the local wine.

A few kilometers away from the main town is Anchiamo.  Leonardoís birth took place here and he spent his childhood playing in these hills.  The museum preserved the house to reflect what Leonardo would have seen.  It is so easy to get lost in your imagination in this scenery of hills covered with olive groves and vineyards.  Inside there is information about Tuscany during the time of his life, as well as a map of the Arno Valley that Leonardo traced himself. 

Comparing Leonardoís drawings with the present scene gives a glimpse into Leonardoís inspiration.  One of the best things about Tuscany and Vinci in particular is the timeless feel of the land and culture.  The sights in Vinci only take a few hours to see, but the desire to linger here and soak in all it has to offer is almost inescapable.  Close to most of the larger Tuscan towns such as Florence, Pisa and Lucca it is easily reached by car or train.  Vinci is one town that should not be missed.

Region of Tuscany



Only a half an hourís drive from the tourist crowds in Florence, panoramic views off SS67 toward Empoli brings you to Vinci.  Only an hour off the A11 highway from Pisa or Lucca as well, Vinci makes a great side trip destination.



Castle at Vinci


Leonardo da Vinci links:
> Nationmaster