The history and the places of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan

28 Mar 2018

When you think about Leonardo da Vinci, the mind immediately runs to Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance where Leonardo has expressed his art and his genius to the maximum; one of his most important masterpieces, however, the Last Supper, is located in Milan in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Leonardo has worked in the Lombard capital for almost twenty years, and for this reason the city is full of hidden and unexpected corners that tell his story. Here is a journey in stages to discover the Renaissance genius works and the Leonardian places in Milan.

Atlantic Code
Our journey to discover the Leonardian places begins at the Ambrosiana Art Gallery where, after a long pilgrimage throughout Europe, the Codex Atlanticus has found its home. The Codex Atlanticus is the corpus of Leonardo’s autograph manuscripts and is so called because of the size of its sheets, used at that time for the geographical atlases. Sketches, preparatory drawings for paintings, mathematical calculations, philosophical meditations and even recipes: a real journey through time and the ingenious mind of Leonardo da Vinci that will surprise you with his typical inverse spelling, his calculations and his projects to garde.

Museum of Science and Technology
We add an unmissable stop to our Leonardo itinerary, which means Leonardo da Vinci’s Museum of Science and Technology. Besides being a true Milanese classic – there is no Milanese child who has not visited this museum with the school or with parents on Sunday afternoons; this visit will allow you to discover and admire Leonardo’s drawings and projects, and to try to make scale models work from the projects of his inventions. With flying machines and floating inventions, it will be a journey through history and science able to fascinate and amuse both adults and children!

Leonardo’s Last Supper and Vineyard
We have reached the crucial stage of our itinerary: the splendid Church of Santa Maria with the Last Supper and the Vigna di Leonardo. But let’s start from the beginning. Everyone knows that Leonardo resided in Milan while painting the Last Supper, but perhaps not everyone knows that he lived right in front of the church, at 65 Corso Magenta; behind that ancient door there is Casa degli Atellani. The Atellans were courtiers of Ludovico Sforza, and their living room (together with the garden of their villa) was the hub of Milanese social life of that period. Leonardo was hosted here, by the Atellani family and in 1498, the Moro, in gratitude, had a vineyard planted for him in the garden of the house; Leonardo, who loved good wine and worldliness, loved this gift very much. Casa degli Atellani remained closed to the public until 2015: on the occasion of Expo the gene of the vine was recovered and the vineyard of Leonardo was replanted. Not only we can admire the Last Supper and the magnificent Santa Maria delle Grazie, but we can even visit Casa degli Atellani and its vineyard while sipping a glass of the same wine grown by Leonardo as an aperitif. This stop is a real gem, a treasure hidden in the heart of Milan that will let you discover the secrets of the Milan period of the Renaissance genius.

The Adda river
If this itinerary in Milan has made you curious and you want to learn more about the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, here is a last stop designed for adventurous people. We move in fact just outside Milan, exactly in Paderno d’Adda where the river Adda flows; in this stretch of river you can visit the places where Leonardo studied the rapids to find a way to transport the building materials by water despite that stretch was not navigable. If then, while you admire the sluices and the canals of the Paderno canal – built precisely on the basis of his studies -, you seem to be immersed in a familiar nature, it’s because Leonardo took inspiration from the landscapes of the Adda for the backgrounds of his famous paintings Virgin of the Rocks and Gioconda.