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Leonardo in Lombardy

InLombardia

The lands of the Lombardy region are filled with signs of Leonardo da Vinci's presence between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Most of them are located in Milan, a city that had the privilege of enjoying a very long and fruitful presence of the Tuscan master. Leonardo moved to the Duchy of Milan from the Florence of Lorenzo il Magnifico as an engineer and scientist rather than an artist, ready to serve Ludovico il Moro for his civil and military projects.

 

Leonardo and Milan

 

The Lombardy capital hosts a series of works and locations marked by Leonardo da Vinci's presence. They are all of significant importance, a heritage to be discovered through an virtual map of Leonardo's city.

1. The Last Supper - Santa Maria delle Grazie

Located in the refectory of the Renaissance Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Last Supper is probably the best known representation of the the Last Supper and one of the most famous works by Leonardo. Commissioned by Ludovico il Moro, the work depicts the the Apostles' surprised reaction mixed with bewilderment at the announcement of the betrayal of Jesus by one of them. Unlike what many think, the Last Supper is not a fresco but a wall painting in greasy tempera on plaster, a special technique that immediately caused a quick deterioration of the work.

The Last Supper - Dominican Church and Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan - Lombardy

2. Leonardo's Vineyard

In 1919, right in front of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, architect Luca Beltrami, a passionate scholar of Leonardo, made a sensational discovery. During the restoration of the Casa degli Atellani, a historic fifteenth-century Milan palace, he found a vineyard donated by Ludovico il Moro to the Tuscan artist involved in the creation of the Last Supper. The Casa degli Atellani and “Vigna di Leonardo (Leonardo's vineyard)” are now open to the public according to an itinerary that allows visitors to admire the original vines, among which Leonardo probably relaxed at the end of a day of hard work in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Leonardo's Vineyard, Milan - Lombardy

3. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Codex Atlanticus 

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana houses the famous Codex Atlanticus, the world's largest collection of Leonardo's writings, drawings and notes: 1,119 sheets with studies in astronomy, optics, mathematics, etc. Inside the museum there is also the Ritratto di Musico (Portrait of a Musician), an oil painting on panel depicting a young man holding in his hands a scroll with musical notes, from which the title comes. Critics believe that the portrait could be that of Atalante Migliorotti, a Tuscan musician and Leonardo's friend. A visit to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana allows visitors to admire, among others, works by Caravaggio, Tiziano, Bernardino Luini, Daniele Crespi and Botticelli.

Codex Atlanticus - Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan - Lombardy

4. The Sforza Castle and the Sala delle Asse 

The Sforza Castle hosts one of Leonardo's artistic masterpieces: the Sala delle Asse. The interweaving of branches, ribbons, fruits and roots that decorate it reveals the eclectic genius of Leonardo da Vinci, who in this work shows a wonderful combination of his studies in painting, optics and botany. In 2013, a long restoration project started to bring the room back to its former splendor. The Sforza Castle also houses a precious collection of Leonardo's writings called Codice Trivulziano (Codex Trivulzianus).

Sala delle Asse - Sforza Castle, Milan - Lombardy

5. The “Leonardo da Vinci” Museum of Science and Technology

The Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci" ("Leonardo da Vinci” Museum of Science and Technology) opened in 1953 and is the largest museum of science and technology in Italy and one of the most important in the world. It houses the world's largest collection of machine models created from Leonardo's drawings.

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci - Milan - Lombardy

6. Leonardo and the Navigli

During his long stay in Milan, Leonardo worked on the construction of a portion of the Navigli, the famous waterways of the city. He was particularly involved in the connection between the Naviglio della Martesana and the internal ditch. He also designed the passage the Adda rapids directly to the Lario. The projects developed by the Tuscan genius were so complex that the Naviglio di Paderno and the Naviglio Pavese were completed only two centuries later.

Naviglio di Paderno - Lombardy

Today, the historical center of Milan holds the ruins of the Naviglio Martesana, designed by Da Vinci: the Conca dell'Incoronata, recognized as a monumental masterpiece since 1967. The bridge, the gate and the watchtower are identical to the ones visible in the Codex Atlanticus (f. 240 r-c) now hosted at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.

Naviglio di San Marco, Milan - Lombardy

 

Leonardo in Other Areas of Lombardy

The Sforza Castle in Vigevano

The Sforza Castle in Vigevano, where Leonardo was hosted on several occasions, allows admiring all the works of the genius in the “Leonardiana”, a permanent interactive multimedia installation that includes Leonardo's cyphers disseminated around the world and replicates in full scale all the paintings attributed to Leonardo.

Leonardiana - Sforza Castle, Vigevano - Lombardy

Adda Eco-museum

The Adda Eco-museum is an open-air museum that extends along the territories through which the Adda river flows. The signs of these locations and landscapes were preserved in various writings by Leonardo da Vinci. Cycling, boating, horseback riding and walking routes allow visitors to reach various locations and attractions linked to or inspired by the passage of the Vinci genius, such as Leonardo's ferry, Villa Melzi d’Eril in Vaprio d’Adda, the Trezzo Castle or the House of the Custodian of the Waters, which houses the interactive gallery "Leonardo in Adda".

Traghetto di Leonardo (Leonardo's Ferry), Adda Eco-museum - Lombardy

Tre Corni alla Rocchetta 

Along the path of the Eco-museum, art fans may admire a familiar landscape: the relief of Tre Corni alla Rocchetta, replicated on the background of the famous "Vergine delle Rocce" painting. 

Tre corni alla Rocchetta, Paderno d’Adda - Lombardy

The Cathedral of Pavia 

Finally, perhaps not everyone knows that Leonardo contributed to the design of the Cathedral of Pavia, while on a visit to this city during the early stages of its construction.

Cathedral of Pavia - Lombardy