The Renaissance man from Vinci

Have you ever put together a list of your ideal circle of friends? My list is a long one, though somewhat sadly, most are long gone from this world. Near the top is this man from Vinci:

Public art, Firenze

Roaming around the Tuscan countryside a few years ago, just a short distance from Florence, we passed a sign for Vinci.

Vinci,’ says my oldest daughter. ‘Is that…?’

‘Leonardo,’ yells my then 6-year-old.

An exhilarated scream from the back seat and a quick u-turn later, and we’re in the little town of Vinci.

Museo Leonardino in Vinci…

At the Museo Leonardino many of Leonardo’s machines and models are exhibited – and can be played with. A fun journey for curious kids of all ages.

Museo Leonardiano Museo Leonardiano

…and the olive farm in Anchiano

Vinci may be small, but Anchiano – just a 3-kilometre hike away – is even smaller. And Anchiano holds the main attraction: an olive farm where a certain Caterina worked about 550 years ago. Now, she wasn’t just an ordinary peasant woman. In 1452 – on 15 April, to be exact, single mum Caterina gave birth to the most famous of renaissance men, Leonardo from Vinci.

Garden of a Renaissance man

This is where little Leonardo spent the formative years of his life, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The rolling hills of Tuscany must have been a good environment for a curious child and fledgling genius.

Leonardo went on to become a world-famous painter. And sculptor, engineer, scientist and inventor. But perhaps most interestingly, I think, he combined it all. His paintings demonstrate an understanding of the physics of the human body and of light. On the other hand, his scientific projects are in the form of diagrams and drawings. A very interesting man indeed.

Lenardo's views
Leonardo’s views…

Leonardo da Vinci's home in Anchiano, near Vinci
… and his childhood home

Olive trees, da Vinci home, Anchiano Leonardo's olives
Picking Leonardo’s olives

Who would be in your ideal circle of friends?


Center map


42 Responses to “The Renaissance man from Vinci”

  1. Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 August 2012 2244 #

    ShortIy after I published this piece today – and it pains me to say this – I managed to delete this entire blog! (Not touching any php-files for a while, that’s for certain).

    Luckily, there was back-up – but only up until 28 July. Also luckily, I had a Word back-up for this piece. Not so luckily, your comments on this are lost. I’m very sorry.

  2. Ana O 3 August 2012 0120 #

    I was wondering what happened since I wasn’t able to access this post earlier. I’m so sorry to hear this. Sometimes technology is our best friend and sometimes, our worst enemy.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1610 #

      So true, Ana.

  3. Sabrina 3 August 2012 0148 #

    How cool! That’s definitely a museum my boyfriend, a lover of all things da Vinci, would love. And I haven’t met a small Italian town I didn’t like 🙂 Sounds perfect! And I’ve never been on an olive farm. What a find!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1611 #

      Next time in Tuscany… 🙂

  4. Jenna 3 August 2012 0323 #

    As you may know, I am deeply interested in Renaissance art and Florence during that period, so I definitely would enjoy visiting Vinci. I knew that it was there but have never been. And I’m sorry to hear about your blog but glad you had a back-up of most everything.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1611 #

      I think you would definitely like it, Jenna.

  5. I would have loved visiting this town – what a great piece of history!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1612 #

      Loved finding it 🙂

  6. Oh dear! So sorry to hear about your blog being deleted, but I’m glad to hear that you had copies of most of it.

    What a fascinating man da Vinci was, and I enjoyed reading about and seeing glimpses from his early years. I also love the story of your six year old shouting “Leonardo!” So cute 😉

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1612 #

      Thank heavens for back-up…

  7. Mary @ The World Is A Book 3 August 2012 0626 #

    Sorry to hear about your blog issues, Sophie! Hope most of it is resolved. What an idyllic town and one we’d love to visit. My kids have a fascination with Leonardo so this would be a great place to visit.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1613 #

      Luckily most everything is up to speed now. Thanks 🙂

  8. Blog Me Travel 3 August 2012 0706 #

    Wow I’m impressed – your 6 year old daughter knows, and furthermore gets excited about Leonardo da Vinci! At that age the only Leonardo I knew was from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…. who was ironically named after the man himself!

    If the word genius only applied to one person, it would be da Vinci. I went to the Leonard da Vinci museum in Venice and loved learning about the mechanics of his mind and creations but felt the consequences of not paying attention to physics in school reared its ugly head that day!

    How did the olives taste?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1614 #

      Ah yes, the Turtles… She’s a bit geeky, my youngest 🙂

  9. Kim 3 August 2012 0903 #

    I absolutely love this post! Leonardo is so incredibly fascinating. Most think of him as a painter of Mona Lisa but he was so much more.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1615 #

      Thanks, Kim. Yes, layers and layers of fascination is Leonardo. Would love to time travel to meet him.

  10. London4Travelers 3 August 2012 1218 #

    Very interesting travel. It perfectly combines knowledge of history and art. So, travel is very educational both for adults and their children. Great story.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1615 #

      Thanks 🙂

  11. Vera Marie Badertscher 3 August 2012 1517 #

    Sophie: I grieve with you for the lost articles on your site. How sad.
    And I totally agree that Leonardo would be an interesting, if somewhat annoying at times, companion. There are so many characters from history that I would like to know, that I have a hard time choosing. Not going back so far, and staying close to home, I’m drawn to Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1616 #

      Some of your founding fathers would be interesting to meet, yes 🙂

  12. Steve 4 August 2012 0125 #

    Leonardo is one of those people who you wish could have lived forever, just to see what his brilliant mind would have come up with. I can only imagine how he would have made out with all of today’s technology at his disposal.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1617 #

      Can you imagine…

  13. Laurence 4 August 2012 1759 #

    Sorry to hear about your blog issues – but well done on getting back up so quickly! Vinci looks like a fascinatingly historical place to visit 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1617 #

      Thanks, Laurence.

  14. Bret @ Green Global Travel 4 August 2012 2117 #

    One of my favorite cultural experiences ever was an adult-oriented puppet show at Atlanta’s Center For Puppetry Arts called “Avanti, Da Vinci!” Basically, these mixed historical and fictional events to create a story that portrayed him as a genius inventor by day, and crime-fighting superhero by night. Ever since then, I simply adore Leonardo Da Vinci.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1618 #

      Crime-fighting superhero Leonardo – too cool!

  15. Natasha von Geldern 5 August 2012 0547 #

    OMG how awful about the blog – that’s put the wind up me for sure! But wonderful to imagine little Leo running about under the olive trees 🙂 And yes your daughter’s are impressively knowledgeable – benefits of travel I’m sure 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1619 #

      Start them young on the travelling route, I say. Raises curiosity – or rather, helps them keep their natural curiosity.

  16. Nat - Turkish Travel 5 August 2012 0703 #

    I have never really thought who would be in my ideal circle of friends but now I have seen this place, I could stick Leonardo in there. The stories he could tell of his childhood would be amazing

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1621 #

      I have imaginary little tea parties (or wine parties) with all sorts of interesting people from the past (and sometimes the present). Something to do when I’m stuck without a book in a queue, a bus, an airport…

  17. Angela 5 August 2012 1149 #

    That’s lovelly that you got to visit Leonardo’s birthplace, what a great man. If I’m not mistaken I read somewhere he’s among the famous vegetarian in history 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1626 #

      Yes, I’ve heard he refrained from eating meat because he loved animals. Just another highlight of this wondrous man!

  18. Andrea 6 August 2012 1347 #

    The original re-mixer…I like it!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1628 #


  19. Christy @ Technosyncratic 6 August 2012 2125 #

    That’s so cute that your young kids we’re so excited about Leonardo da Vinci! I can understand it, though; there are so many levels to what he created, and I feel like I’m constantly discovering new sides of his work.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1629 #

      My girls adore him!

  20. Zoe French 6 August 2012 2309 #

    I know how you feel when work gets deleted! Great piece, nonetheless! Vinci is a beautiful little town and the museum is so so interesting!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 August 2012 1629 #

      It really is!

  21. carl D 25 September 2012 2056 #

    Ha I never thought of that but Da Vinci would be an amazing friend to have. That must have been a cool trip.

  22. Andrew Graeme Gould 8 October 2012 0506 #

    What interesting background on Leonardo. A beautifully illustrated post, too. A friend from the past? I’ll start off with J.S. Bach…


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