Vinci: The Town of Leonardo

Vinci is a small hilltop village, located 40 km away from Florence, which combines the typical mysterious charm of Tuscan villages with the fascinating culture of Leonardo.

The village of Vinci is situated upon the slopes of Mount Albano, along the border between the provinces of Florence and Pistoia. Vinci was founded around the year 1000 by the noble Guidi family who ruled this domain right until the little village became separated from the Florentine territory in the 13th century. The Guidi family provided Vinci with a tower, which remains the town’s dominating feature even today, with its surrounding walls which were built later.

Vinci is still recognised for its tower and surrounding ancient walls which were built with the intention to overpower the surrounding terrain and hosted the Florentine institutes following the loss of autonomy. It was also the seat of the mayor for many centuries. Today the building is no longer used for civil and administration purposes but for cultural purposes as it now hosts a libary and part of the Museum of Leonardo.

The idea to make Vinci a cultural centre, dedicated to its most famous citizen, came about during the mid 1930′s. Since then, Vinci has suceeded in creating its now famous identity as the birthplace of Leonardo, by offering tourists the opportunity to discover more about this famous intellectual character.

According to tradition, Leonardo was born in Anchiano, 3km away from Vinci, on the 15 April 1452. Today the house where Leonardo was born is now part of the Leonardo museum, along with library and the main museum.

The Leonardo Library has a collection of copies of all his manuscripts, sketches and original designs and published editions of his work.

However, the most important part of the Leonardo itinerary offered by the town of Vinci is the Leonardo museum where you can see the machines designed by Leonardo which have actually been realised by groups of scholars. In The Museum of Vinci there is currently an exhibition of such machines which were made solely out of the only materials that were available during the 15th century (like rope and wood). However, with the aid of new technology and software they were able to build the machines on a bigger scale, whilst still maintaining the original proportions.

The places in which Leonardo dedicated himself to a range of fields from art to engineering, from mechanics to hydraulics seem like places where this ingenious inventor actually took a trip forward through time as many of his inventions were not recognised until much later when advanced technology really took off.

A trip to the astonishing town of Vinci is well worth it. Get a real feel for Vinci’s most famous personality, who has always been a successful tourist attraction especially in the last few years following the success of the book the Da Vinci Code. However, do not leave having only experienced the culture of Leonardo as Vinci has much more to offer! The surrounding countryside, for example, is reknowned for the quality of its local produce: after having visited the marvellous museum and having seen Leonardo’s machines, pop into one of Vinci’s local restaurants and sample some of the town’s delicious local dishes and wines!

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