The da Vinci family Taverns

The da Vinci family Taverns

During Leonardo’s time the ancient road that led from the Arno to Vinci and then toward the Montalbano passes was dotted with resting places. One was right in Vinci, in the village at the foot of the castle, and was taken over by Leonardo's youngest half-brother around 1530. Continuing along the road there was another point for refreshment, the tavern of Anchiano, with which we are acquainted, because in the middle of the 15th century Leonardo's grandfather, then in that place, was obliged to interrupt a game of "backgammon" to draw up a contract. When Leonardo's father bought the farm in Anchiano 30 years later, his intention may have been to take advantage of its position along the road and create, or strengthen, its function as a resting place for wayfarers.

  • Vinci was the place of Leonardo's childhood and early youth. Before moving to Florence, he lived with the family of his father, Ser Piero, who worked as a notary, practicing between Florence and Pisa and residing permanently in the city. Thanks to studies by Renzo Cianchi, it is possible to identify today the buildings that once belonged to the da Vinci family. The house where Leonardo lived in his youth was undoubtedly the family’s principal residence, which was situated, then, in the castle village, on the Piazza del Mercatale (market square), overlooking the open space of the minuscule square of today, Piazzetta Guazzesi.

  • At the edge of the current Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, the ancient platea (courtyard) of the castle village, stood the municipal mill of Vinci. In 1478 Leonardo was called upon by his family to attend the official act of granting the public mill in perpetuity to the da Vinci family, with the proviso of increasing its value through improvements. In fact, this mill is represented in a late 16th-century map, together with a second works, alongside the village osteria and the millrace derived from the waters of Rio della Querceta. Some ruins of the millrace system are still partially visible nearby the ancient ditch used for drainage discharge.

  • During Leonardo’s time, the village tavern stood at the end of Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, strategically positioned between the road to Montalbano and the one that descends, through the narrow vaulted passage of the Androne Ciofi, into the valley of the Vincio, toward the San Pantaleo countryside. Around the 1530s, the tavern was rented to Giovanni, the youngest of Leonardo's half-brothers. The establishment functioned both as a tavern and as a butcher shop, activities requiring a constant use of water. The proximity of the canals that fed the municipality’s mills, positioned next to the tavern-butcher shop, must have been essential, especially for the operation of slaughtering meat.

  • The house at Anchiano entered into the patrimony of the da Vinci family around 1480, and perhaps Ser Piero, Leonardo's father, was thinking of making it into a resting place along the road rising from Vinci up to the passes of Montalbano. After Ser Piero's death, the complex was still composed of “una casa da oste principiata” (an innkeeper’s house, just begun). Successively, the branch of the family of Gugliemo da Vinci, one of Leonardo's half-brothers, took root in Anchiano. The series of studies during the last century on the theme of Leonardo’s birth gave rise to the extraordinary 'place of memory' that today is the Casa Natale di Leonardo (Leonardo’s birth house) in Anchiano, enriched by technological solutions allowing you as a visitor to immerse yourself, together with Leonardo, in his life story.

  • The small tower depicted by Leonardo in a central position on Montalbano on the famous map RLW 12685 corresponds, as indicated by the toponym santa lucco, to the so-called Torre di Sant'Alluccio. It was situated, as today, on the ridge of Montalbano, near the road that descended toward Bacchereto from Anchiano. The tower, so familiar to Leonardo, was what remained of an older ecclesiastical complex, but during Leonardo’s time it was already an isolated building, owned by the Florentine family of the Ridolfi. The tower’s history is linked to the events of the ancient Guidi hospital of Sant'Alluccio, the houses of which are perhaps those whose medieval ruins were found in the woods above Sant'Amato.

  • Pietramarina is an ancient locality, situated at one of the highest elevations of the southern ridge of Montalbano. This place, where we can see the remains of a fortress-sanctuary dating back to the Etruscan period, and a curiosity, the renowned "Masso del diavolo", was called sasso marino in the 16th-century. Leonardo must have known this part of Montalbano: from here he could descend towards Bacchereto and, especially, toward the family home of his paternal grandmother. In the famous view of Montalbano in Codex Madrid II, f.23r, Leonardo reports the toponym Fornia, which corresponds today to the name of a farm near Pietramarina.

  • Leonardo's paternal grandmother, Lucia, was originally from Bacchereto, the production center for the glazed pottery that was in full bloom during Leonardo’s time. An ancestor of grandmother Lucia’s family was one of the first pottery vendors of Bacchereto: Leonardo could certainly add to the many experiences of his youthful period in these places also the practice, in Bacchereto, of clay modeling and knowledge of furnaces and enamel colors, which he even mentions in his papers. In Bacchereto there are still "Vincian" localities such as Toia, where his grandmother's family had a house and a pottery kiln.