Itineraries in the Florentine area

  • Architectural projects and works

    Leonardo was frequently called upon to act as consultant for initiatives promoted by the Florentine Signoria; only rarely, instead, did he work as designer for the Medici family. He drew up numerous projects for remodelling the city according to the ideal canons formulated in the 15th century. Among these were the proposal to raise the Baptistry on steps, extraordinary projects for channeling on different levels and a geometric rearrangement of the urban grid.

  • Clients and families, palaces and monasteries

    Thanks to his profession of notary Ser Piero, Leonardo's father, had close ties and friendships with the most prominent families in Florence, and not there alone (think, for instance, of the Bentivoglio, Lords of Bologna). He also worked for many civil and religious institutes, such as the monasteries of San Pier Martire, of San Donato a Scopeto and of the Santissima Annunziata. In the monasteries and palaces of Florence, Leonardo had various opportunities to accede to material for study and to receive commissions for paintings, as well as some assignments as consultant and designer.

  • Drawings, paintings and sculpture

    The authentic autograph works of Leonardo visible in Tuscany are almost all concentrated in the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence and they all date from the years of his youth. These were the years of his collaboration with Verrocchio. Unfortunately in Florence there are no autograph manuscripts by Leonardo . Furthermore, the possible collocation of cartoons recorded in the sources, such as those for the Saint Anne at Santissima Annunziata and for the Battle of Anghiari, is unknown.

  • Leonardo and the waterways

    Along Tuscany's rivers and streams, beside the various bridges which connect the banks, it is possible to see many man-made objects or interesting sites which, in addition to their history, often ensure the fundamental function of controlling the water to produce various types of energy - as in the case of the mills - or for defense against the flood waters in the case of the embankments.
    Some of these places were observed, described and even studied by Leonardo da Vinci for whom water was a fundamental element in the design of the Universe.
    The itineraries along the courses of the rivers in Tuscany, thanks to the collaboration of the Consorzio di Bonifica 3 Medio Valdarno, allow to discover hydraulic works of primary importance, many of which attracted the penetrating gaze of Leonardo da Vinci.

  • Libraries and Archives

    Based on over 300 sources, it has been possible to reconstruct Leonardo's "Ideal Library", which contained manuscripts and printed books that he mentions in several lists. He frequented the Libraries of Santo Spirito and of San Marco. Nowadays the documents on Leonardo's life and family are conserved mainly in the Florence State Archive, in the Opera del Duomo Archive.

  • Masters, companions, friends and disciples

    Still today, Leonardo's relations with his contemporaries are unclear as well as the considerable influence exerted on him by his predecessors. Like other Renaissance artists, Leonardo surely studied works of classical art and his declared admiration for Giotto and Masaccio is as significant as his implicit esteem of Brunelleschi. Although Verrocchio is known as his master, he was undoubtedly influenced also by the Pollaiolo and by the works of Flemish artists. In his manuscripts he mentioned some of the greatest artists of the time as friends, and he had a shop and a school whose importance was underestimated in the past. Leonardo's influence is particularly evident in the works of the Florentine shops active in the last decades of the 15th century. His heritage fell to the Mannerists in the first decades of the 16th century.

  • Notes and anecdotes on daily life

    Leonardo's day-to-day life has often risked becoming legend. But his autograph papers paint a very human and far from mythological portrait of the genius from Vinci. To discover the real face of Leonardo, then, we should start from these documents rich in intuition and observations.

  • Notes on science and technology

    During his first Florentine period, prior to 1481, Leonardo drew up a great number of studies and technological projects on folios that have been collected mainly in the Codex Atlanticus, as well as the Codex Arundel and the collection of the Cabinet and Prints and Drawings at the Uffizi. These studies show remarkable evolution in the graphic aspect and methodology as compared to those of the Renaissance engineers who preceded him, from Brunelleschi to Francesco di Giorgio Martini. Moreover, references to Graeco-Roman scientific treatises are evident. Interest in science and technological studies were at the centre of Leonardo's studies in his second Florentine period as well.

  • Places where Leonardo lived and worked

    In 1469 Leonardo was not listed among the «mouths» in the family of his father, in the Commune of Vinci. For this reason, it was commonly believed that Leonardo had moved to Florence in that year. In reality, it is probable that his training in art began even earlier, and that he had lived in Florence much before this date. The last certain information shows that Leonardo lived in Palazzo Martelli in 1508. The last of his projects for Florence dates instead from 1515, when he worked on the Medicean quarter.

  • Places where Ser Piero da Vinci lived and worked

    Ser Piero, Leonardo's father, practiced the profession of notary in Florence from 1448 to 1504. He always had his studio near the "Palazzo del Podestà", today's Bargello Museum. The different houses where he lived over the years were therefore constantly close to his place of work, in a restricted area between via Ghibellina and Piazza di Parte Guelfa.

  • The Arno from Rovezzano to the Cascine

    For over 40 years Leonardo dedicated many maps and pages of manuscripts to studying the course of the Arno as it flows through Florence. Thanks to the annotations on the RLW 12679, RLW 12680, the Codex Leicester, the Codex Arundel and the Ms. L, it is possible to retrace the ideal itinerary made by Leonardo along the Florentine river with its bridges, the Bisarno, the banks, the mills and the sandbanks.

  • The Florentine Gates

    On RL 12681 Windsor Castle, dating from around 1515, Leonardo draws the city of Florence in a schematic, idealised form and indicates by name only 10 of the gates found in the city's second circle of walls, along with the Porticciola [little gate] del Prato di Ognissanti on the river.

  • The Florentine hills

    Leonardo studied the hills that encircle the basin of Florence, both as landscape elements and as observation points for the reconnaissance connected with the project for channeling the Arno. He drew their contours, evidencing the hills of Bellosguardo, Certosa, Fiesole, L’Incontro, Monte Ceceri, Monteoliveto, Montici and Il Paradiso. Leonardo visually surveys the scenario, fruit of an extraordinary blend of nature and artifice, in which he plans to intervene rationally; the ductus is that of the views from the Pisan Mountains, but with more aesthetic refinement and optical-perspective sensitivity, as in the vedutas en plein air of a traveller during the Romantic period.