The Arno from Rovezzano to the Cascine

The Arno from Rovezzano to the Cascine: river banks, bridges and tributaries

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 route is delineated by information taken from map RL 12679 (Windsor Castle), also keeping in mind map RL 12680, the Codex Leicester, the Codex Arundel and Ms. L. This ideal walk along the ancient banks of the Arno can start from the plain of Ripoli (from "ripe", i.e., rive [banks] of the Arno), traversed in Roman times by the Via Cassia, which was described by Repetti in the 19th century as follows: «The plain, or rather the garden, most delightful, most fruitful, most flowery, most populated with villas, palaces, churches and habitations, among those that form a garland around beautiful Florence».

    Molino di Badia • Nave • Mensola • First sandbank • First ancient mill • Varlungo • Rusciano • Second ancient mill • Second sandbank - Bisarno • La Rotta • Third ancient mill • Casacce • Rotta of the ferryboat • Third sandbank • Ricorboli • Affrico • Mulino della parte
  • We enter Florence, starting the second route based on the map of the bridges in the Codex Arundel and the map of Florence RL 12681 (Windsor Castle). Leonardo specifies (in Ms. L) that the distance «from the Arno wall of Giustizia to the Arno bank of Sardigna, where there are the mulberry trees at the mill is 7400 braccia, that is, 2 miles and 1400 braccia (on the right bank)» and «on the other side of the Arno it is 5500 braccia» (on the left bank), but the difference of 1900 braccia given by Leonardo (equivalent to about 1,107 metres) seems not to match the actual distance between the points indicated.

    Pescaia della Giustizia • Mulina di San Niccolò • Isola dei Cocomeri • Spedale del Ceppo • Ponte Rubaconte • Ponte Vecchio • Ponte Santa Trinita • Ponte alla Carraia • Muro de’ Compari • Pescaia d’Ognissanti • Muro dell’Uccello
  • The third part of the Arno itinerary is based on maps RL 12678 (Windsor Castle), considering also RL 12677, folios 148v, 149r, 273r and 275v of the Codex Arundel and 15A-15r of the Codex Leicester. Leonardo calculates that from "point S" (the confluence of the two branches of the Arno at Peretola) to the Ognissanti weir (in proximity to the "Sardigna") «is 5000 bracci, that is, a mile and 2/3" (around 3,000 metres)». On the folios of the Codex Arundel, in addition to measuring the course and the banks of the Arno and the Mugnone, Leonardo takes an interest in the hydraulic system and characteristics of the mills and fulling mills on the right bank ("8 and 2 millstones") and on the left bank ("2 millstones"), as well as the relationship between the city's walls and the river.

    Sardigna • Mugnone • Island of Legnaia • Ponte alle Mosse • Rifredi (Terzolle) • Isola M • Casa di ser Amanzo • Peretola