Vinci as in Leonardo da Vinci-from Vinci, a small town in Tuscany, Italy.
Another winter excursion. Notice how these only occur on sunny days! Not to fool you that it’s always sunshine here in Tuscany, but because I hibernate on grey days. And anyway when the sun does shine here everywhere looks so beautiful, one almost forgets that it’s ever not sunny.
First stop for us was the wooden sculpture of vitruvian man by Mario Ceroli, a bold impressive piece that sets the scene for the fact that this small town is naturally devoted to being the birthplace of Leonardo.
Then onto the museum. Museo Leonardiano, details below. Ticket office and first part of museum is in Palazzina Uzielli. Exhibits here were about machinery for textiles, construction and gold working. Shall I be honest here-not very engaging for any of us. Then onto the main part of the museum in the more impressive surroundings of the Castello. The castle itself dates to around the year 1000. Again the focus is on Leonardo’s engineering, with models of many of his sketches. I have to confess to having the least possible interest in, or understanding of ‘how things work’ so the appeal for me personally was limited, but the boys were more interested, especially (rather predictably!) in the weapons designs, though the tank model even caught my attention. But overall being entirely superficial in technological matters I simply liked ‘the big stuff’ so happily watched the revolving crane in action and admired the flying machines. Although I didn’t ‘get’ a lot of the exhibits here it is a reminder of how far ahead of his time Leonardo was in his ideas, and as the museum is fairly small it didn’t reach the point of becoming boring, even for me!
Wandering around the small town what strikes is how little has probably changed there since Leonardo’s day. So many of the buildings like the castle and the churches would have been there then, and in particular the landscape. Looking across the hills, olive groves and vineyards it is such timeless scenery. (If you don’t count the satellite dishes of course!)
The highlight of the day for me was the walk through the olive groves to Leonardo’s birth house. Not the house itself, but the walk. 3km on the strada verde, a green road, a well worn track through non stop olive trees to Anchiano. There’s just something so magical about these twisted, gnarled silver trees, just add sunshine and a blue sky and everything feels right with the world.
As for the house itself, not much to say really. Only 3 rooms, bare except for some information boards. A wasted opportunity. If it had been furnished as it would have been ‘in Leonardo’s day’ it would have placed him more firmly in historical context. Or even some attention on his art. The town’s focus is fully on ‘Leonardo the engineer’ yet for many Leonardo is a painter-after all he is the artist who painted THE most famous painting in the world. Yet hardly a nod to this side of his life here in Vinci.
Rod spotted this tree growing near the house! We think its La Befana
So – Is Vinci worth a visit? Obviously yes if you’re interested in engineering. For the rest of us- It’s a charming small town with beautiful classic Tuscan scenery. The museum gives a focal point and the Leonardo theme a purpose to a typical small town of the type that you might not otherwise go to. Unless you have a strong interest it’s probably not worth going too far out of your way, but if you will be within an hour or so (which many holidaying in northern Tuscany will be) then yes, it’s a pleasant old fashioned family day out!
For ‘proper’ detailed info from those who know! http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/itineraries/itinerary/Vinci.html
Museo Leonardiano price and opening times
adults -6e, reductions – 4.50e, children(6-14) -3e (2011prices )
open every day. November to February 9.30 to 18.00, March to October 9.30-19.00
Casa Natale di Leonardo (birth house) Free of charge, same hours.
Museum website http://www.museoleonardiano.it/msl/home.shtml
How to get to Vinci
By car. From Florence (Firenze) (45km) use Fi-Pi-Li (Firenze-Pisa-Livorno dual carriageway) exit at Empoli Ovest, then north (SP13) . From Lucca (50km) take A11 direction Firenze, exit at Montecatini Terme then south on SP436.
By public transport – Train to Empoli (direct trains from Florence/Firenze, Pisa and Siena) then COPIT bus line 49, 25 minutes, approx once an hour weekdays and Saturdays, last return bus 18.35, but check times here http://www.piubus.it/ and for trains see http://www.trenitalia.it