Welcome to Vinci
Birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci
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
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.
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
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.