Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), renaissance man and genius inventor, may have spent most of his life in the halls of Milanese palaces, but he hailed from just outside of Florence, a place still famous for its sublime art and architecture. You’d have to go out of your way not to spend some time admiring Florence’s famous artwork when you’re in the city, but you might need to look a little harder to see the gems of da Vinci’s Florence. Here are the best places to explore the master’s work and learn more about his life.
A history of genius
Da Vinci was born in a rural village called Vinci in the region of Florence. He was educated in Florence and spent his working life in the service of the Duke of Milan. Along the way he painted several of the most famous paintings of all time, including “The Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” He is also credited as the father of fields as diverse as architecture, palaeontology, and ichnology. Oh, and he invented the tank, the helicopter and the parachute. He certainly was a unique figure in history and a living representative of the Renaissance ideal of humanism.
The Da Vinci Museum
The Da Vinci Museum hosts a permanent exhibition in the heart of Florence. Dedicated to the universal genius of da Vinci’s mechanical creations, this is a hands-on museum with a fascinating collection of wooden machines based on da Vinci drawings. The museum is divided into five sections dedicated to mechanisms, earth, water, air and fire. Each takes a unique approach to da Vinci’s life and work.
The Uffizi is one of the best galleries in Florence and one of the oldest art museums in the western world, so it’s no surprise they have several works by da Vinci. Here’s you’ll find “The Annunciation” and “The Adoration of the Magi,” as well as “The Baptism of Christ.” The collection of Renaissance art here should be on the must-see list for anyone visiting Florence.
This lovely palazzo isn’t just an architectural gem, it also contains a hidden da Vinci treasure. His painting “The Battle of Anghiari” was recently discovered behind one Vasari’s frescoes on a wall here. This had long been hypothesized, in part because Vasari, an admirer of da Vinci, wrote “Seek and you shall find” on one of the frescoes.
Da Vinci’s Birthplace
If you’d like to see the house where da Vinci was born, it’s just a 90-minute drive outside the city. This lovely little village has a fine museum and is certainly worth a visit, especially if you’d like to escape the bustle of the city for an afternoon.
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Stephan Delbos is an internationally published writer and editor. Born in the US, he has lived, worked and traveled in Europe for a decade. He’s fond of oysters and arid martinis.