At Da Vinci 2019 Tuscan Event Itinerary

The commemorative exhibitions organized for the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci continue on into Tuscany through the summer. Many of the events – held in Vinci, Prato, Arezzo and Montepulciano – focus on his endeavor to explore and enlightened others on the connection between art and science.

Leonardo da Vinci, born in Tuscany and claimed by Tuscans as their native genius, had an endless curiosity encompassing art, science, architecture and ideas for numerous practical inventions. Da Vinci took inspiration from a turtle’s shell and drew up plans for an armored fighting vehicle. He designed a solar power system to heat water for the city of Florence and made an early prototype for a cooling machine which predated refrigeration. One might say he envisioned robots, centuries before they were invented, as his journals contained drawings of an armored knight which had the capacity to move its head, sit up and wave it arms by means of a pulley and cable system. Seeing art and science as complimentary disciplines, da Vinci asserted, “Art is the queen of sciences.”



This small town an hour’s drive from Florence makes the most of its famous son in 2019.

The Museo Leonardiano (Leonardo Museum) offers one of the most extensive and original collections devoted to the vast pursuits of the architect, inventor, engineer and scientist. The displays are in Italian, so for non-Italian speakers it’s recommended to download the app with information in English, German, French or Spanish. The museum includes working models of his inventions: from the steam cannon to a bicycle and a spinning machine to a three-speed hoist and scores more, impressing on the visitor da Vinci’s vast knowledge and curiosity. An area devoted to his anatomical studies of the human body gives a close-up view of the muscular skeletal system and its physiology. Guests who climb up the 124 steps to the panoramic terrace of the Castle Guidi are rewarded by a view of breathtaking scenery.

The birthplace of Leonardo (Leonardo’s Family Home) lies just three kilometers out of Vinci. It was here that Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 out of wedlock to Piero Vinci and a woman named Caterina. In the rustic simplicity of the farmhouse visitors can become shaving with the genius on a more personal level. Modern technology allows one to appreciate his painting via digital reproduction.

Admission is €7 each to the Leonardo’s Museum and his birthplace and a combined ticket to visit both museums costs €11. Hours through October are 10 am to 7 pm daily. Next to the museum, the church of the Holy Cross, with a stone façade and rose window, contains the 15th century marble font where Leonardo was baptized.

Vinci has organized a wide variety of other events throughout the year to honor its hometown Renaissance man.

Until October 15: “The Origins of Genius,” Leonardo Museum

The town’s museum in Piazza dei Conti Guidi, presents a special show featuring the artist’s drawings. On display are landscapes he created in his early years as he roamed the river Arno and Nievole valleys, including his earliest known work dated August 5, 1473 when he was 21 years old. “The Origins of Genius” includes multimedia exhibits and reconstructions of Leonardo’s projects for the area around Vinci, integrating the museum”s collection of machines and models he designed with hydraulic engineering plans and maps drawn of the valley. The exhibition provides a glimpse into Leonardo’s future interests: his fascination with water, his profound interest in nature and geology and his continuing research into scientific pursuits.

July 1 – 21: “the MOON,” Leonardo Museum

Visit this traveling exhibition of painting, sculpture and photography with the theme L. U. N. A. (MOON) on the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo and the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. See museum website for opening hours and admission fees.

Through October: “Leonardo and His Painting,” Villa del Ferrale

This historic estate halfway between Vinci and Anchiano presents a face-to-face experience with da Vinci’s masterpieces and drawings with full-scale HD reproductions (open daily 10:30 am to 7:30 pm. Admission purchased in combination with the Leonardo Museum).


Until February 24, 2020: “The Technological Challenges of Universal Genius.” Civic Museum of Sansepolcro, via Niccolo aggiunti, 65. Open daily 10 am – 1 pm and 2:30 – 6 pm. Admission €10.

The retrospective allows visitors to explore some of Leonardo’s ambitious projects with flight, giving movement to inanimate objects, and a project of the largest equestrian statues ever attempted. His dreams take shape in his drawings and machines illustrated in the videos and 3-D animation. (rita kungel)


Until Sept. 8: LEONARDO IN THE VAL DI CHIANA. The Fortress Of Montepulciano. Open daily 10:30 am – 7:30 pm. Admission: €5.

This show offers exciting insight into the theories, ideas, and creations of the Da Vinci, with facsimile excerpts of his Codex Leicester. The exhibition also showcases the projected recreations of his most intricate designs and miniature models.

The Codex Leicester consists of 18 double sheets and was complied, to a large extent, in Florence between 1504 and 1508. In this notebook of scientific inventions and astronomical theories, Leonardo focuses of the specification primarily on water, investigating its elementary structure, vortex movements, and properties, as well as the potential technical methods for exploiting it to the benefit of humankind. In most of his cartographic designs, water is almost always the key and most visually striking element in the illustrations.

One such illustration is Leonardo’s map of the Valdichiana, which is one of his most sophisticated and technically advanced cartographic works, allowing for the identification of 254 geographical places, between Florence, Arezzo, Lake Trasimeno, the Sienese Chianti, the area south of Volterra, the Val d’orcia and the Cecina valley.

Although it accurately depicts cities and castles, the principal object of this map is in fact an enormous marsh that was assumed to be the source of the plague-ridden air which afflicted the Val di Chiana valley since the Middle Ages. Leonardo highlighted the marshy area with a light blue so as to make the numerous streams that flowed towards the Chiana master canal, the ancient river Clanis, clearly visible with a darker blue. For approximately three centuries this river flooded the surrounding plains.

Despite many historic failed attempts, the map seems to have been designed to illustrated and proposed land reclamation project, that would go on to transform the unhealthy marsh into a reservoir, which during times of drought, would feed water into a navigable channel. This project is said to have been developed for the Florentine Republic.

On other pages of the Codex, Leonardo proposed an idea of what was later developed as the modern submarine. By analysing the swimming motion and patterns of the fish, and by observing the motions of water itself, this enabled Da Vinci to understand how to stay afloat, but also how to avoid being dragged underwater by whirlpools and savage undercurrents. In the notes beside the sketches of his inventions, Leonardo mentions the ability to remain underwater for extended periods of time.

He never revealed how, “because of the evil nature of men,” worrying that his designs would be used to sink fleets and harm those upon them. (karl whittaker)


Until Sept. 29: LEONARDO DA VINCI, INVENTIVENESS & FABRIC. The textile museum, via Puccetti 3, Prato. Open Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 3 pm; Friday and Saturday 10 am – 7 pm; Sunday: 3 – 7 pm; closed Monday. Admission: €7.

The exhibition, featuring Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliant designs for the textile industry, as well as his thoughts on the depiction of people, fabrics, and more in his art, gives a unique spin on the contributions of the Renaissance genius. His inventions were built and helped reduce the work needed during phases of making wool, silk, and other fabrics.

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