You all know the name Vinci. But probably many of you don't know that it's not only the name of a Renaissance genius, but it's also a wonderful small town in Tuscany. It's not a coincidence, as Leonardo was born here on April 15, 1452. Most travellers visit Vinci because of the famous polymath, but it's worth visiting the town in its own right. Vinci has a splendid location, surrounded by huge olive fields, and walking around it I can imagine how all this beauty inspired Leonardo.
The look of the town has not changed much since the time of the Medicis, the view is dominated by the castle (Castello dei Conti Guidi) and the small church. The castle hosts the Museum of Leonardo (Il Museo Leonardiano di Vinci), which is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions. It presents Leonardo, the man of many talents: the technologist, the architect and the scientist. You will find machines, models, drawings and handwritten notes in the museum, all about his most famous inventions, along with digital animations, videos and interactive applications. Part of the exhibition can be found in Palazzina Uzielli next door.
On the piazza outside the museum you can see the statue based on Leonardo's Vitruvian Man, with the peaceful Tuscan countryside in the background. Just a few steps away you can find the Church of Santa Croce, where Leonardo was baptized.
The birthplace of Leonardo is located 3 kilometers from Vinci, in Anchiano (La Casa Natale di Leonardo). You will find several signposts showing you the way to the house. The rustic stone house is standing in the middle of an olive grove, in a magical environment. When I was there, it was a very intimate experience to step into the home of the genius I adore. Today you will find a modern, interactive exhibition in the house.
You can also see the digital reproduction of The Last Supper, but I think it's much better to see the original one in Milan. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance! I was actually very lucky in Milan. I had been planning to see the famous mural, but all my visits were quite spontaneous and I could not book in advance. So I just walked to the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and tried to get a ticket. It was not possible, but while I was talking to the cashier, an elegant man walked up to me. He had 2 tickets but his wife could not join him, so he just offerred me one of the tickets. It was our turn, we walked in, and strangely there was nobody else in the room. So we were sitting in silence for a while, admiring one of the most famous mural paintings in the world. Then it turned out the man was a famous art historian and he explained to me many exciting things about the painting. What an experience! I guess, no matter how hopeless it seems, we just have to give things a try and see what happens.
But back to Vinci and Leonardo: I am a bit jealous of him. Not only because he was an extremely talented Renaissance genius, but also because he spent part of his life in this fabulous area.
We also visited a local ceramist, and of course, I ended up with a colourful piece for the ceramics collection in my kitchen.