Windsor Castle, RL 12278

Bird's-eye view of Tuscany (and part of Umbria) with the Val di Chiana (and Lake Trasimeno), between Arezzo, Volterra, Siena, Sovana, Chiusi, Cortona and Sansepolcro, c. 1502.

  • The Aretino (territory of Arezzo) was undoubtedly a destination and place of "passage" in Leonardo's travels during the early years of the 16th century and the time he spent in Rome (1513-1516). Specifically, Leonardo scouted this area in the field for his hydrographic projects pertinent to land reclamation in the Val di Chiana (around 1502) and for the course of the Arno, as well as for reasons of strategic nature at the order of Cesare Borgia (the son of Pope Alexander VI, and a warlord often considered a threat to Florence), for whom he was the "Most Expert and Highly Cherished Family Architect and General Engineer" starting in January 1502. It is also probable that Leonardo was interested in seeing the works of art and architecture present in the territory, such as the masterpieces of painting by Piero della Francesca in Arezzo and Sansepolcro. The rivers in the Arezzo territory are indicated mainly on map RL 12277, Windsor Castle. As regards these localities, four itineraries extending into the Val di Chiana area are particularly interesting. Two of these, indicated on map RL 12278, run from Arezzo and Pieve a Quarto to Cortona, in the direction of Perugia, and from Arezzo and Pieve a Quarto to Foiano della Chiana, through Ponte a Pietra. The next two, which depart in the radial direction from Foiano della Chiana and from Castiglion Fiorentino, are instead represented, with measurement of the distances, on map RL 12682 and include localities indicated also on RL 12278.

    Ambra (torrent) • Arezzo • Bucine • Cozzano • Fontiano • La Chiassa (torrent) • Levane (ponte a) • Montebenichi • Montevarchi • Pieve a Quarto • Pigli • Puliciano • Quarata • Rigutino • Rocca Montanina • Rondine • San Giovanni Valdarno • Vingone • Vitiano
  • It is probable that Leonardo traversed the localities of the Casentino mentioned on his maps, especially at the time of Cesare Borgia and during journeys he made between 1502 and 1504 between Tuscany and Romagna. This zone is amply illustrated by Leonardo on maps RL 12277 and RL 12278 (Windsor Castle). Extremely interesting is folio 910r of the Codex Atlanticus with a graphic representation of the watercourses in Tuscany, in which only 12 localities in Casentino are named: Borgo alla Collina (Commune of Castel San Niccolò), Castel Castagnaio (Pratovecchio), Fornace (Stia), Pagliericcio (Castel San Niccolò), Palagio Fiorentino (Stia), Pompona (Pratovecchio), Porciano (Stia), Pratovecchio, Romena (Stia), Stia, Urbech (Stia), as well as "Bastinoccio", not yet identified in the terrain, but present also on the Massaio maps, preceding those of Leonardo..

    Castelnuovo • Chiaveretto sulla Chiana • Montegiovi • Scheggia
  • The name Chianti originally referred to the territory belonging to the Communes of Radda, Castellina and Gaiole, which since the late 14th century had constituted an ancient League under the aegis of Florence. To this territory were added in time the Communes of San Casciano, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Greve, Castelnuovo Berardenga and the lands of other communes found between Florence and Siena. As can be seen from map RL 12278 Windsor Castle, Leonardo was very well acquainted with many localities in Chianti, which he is sure to have traversed during his journeys toward Siena and in his travels through Tuscany at the service of Cesare Borgia (around 1502).

    Abbadia a Isola • Cacchiano (Castle of) • Castellina in Chianti • Brolio Castle • Castiglioni • Cerreto del Chianti • Gaiole in Chianti • Leccia farm • Pesa (river) • Pietrafitta • Radda in Chianti • Rencine • San Leonino • San Polo in Chianti • Vertine • Volpaia
  • This is the part of Tuscany to which Leonardo dedicated the majority of his works and research projects. It is thus inevitable that Leonardo possessed a thorough, direct knowledge of the places and persons of this territory. In Florence in fact, he spent long periods of his life between the 1460s and 1508. It cannot be excluded that the artist also went to Florence as a boy with his father, or that he stayed there at times during his Milanese and Roman periods, up to the time of the Medicean projects of 1515 and his departure for France in 1516.

    Antella • Certosa del Galluzzo • Ema (river) • Grassina (torrent) • Lappeggi • Montisoni • Strada in Chianti
  • Leonardo probably visited Grosseto and its surroundings to conduct generic reconnaissance, and perhaps also on his journeys toward Lazio. He must have found the locality of Sovana, clearly evidenced on the two maps dedicated to this zone (Windsor Castle RL 12277 and especially RL 12278), particularly interesting.

    Alberese • Campagnatico • Capalbio • Cinigiano • Cornia (river) • Farma (torrent) • Monte Argentario • Montenero d'Orcia • Monterotondo Marittimo • Orbetello • Paganico • Pari • Porto Ercole • Sasso d'Ombrone • Sovana • Travale
  • While serving as engineer to Cesare Borgia (1502-1503), Leonardo dedicated detailed studies to the localities and watercourse of the Sienese territory, especially on map RL 12278 (Windsor Castle), as well as on map RL 12277 and marginally on RL 12682. Siena was important to Leonardo's formation not only as the cradle of art but also as the birthplace of some of the leading figures in the technological culture of the Early Renaissance, from Mariano di Iacopo, known as Taccola, to Francesco di Giorgio Martini. With the latter, Leonardo met in Pavia, studying his codices and annotating them in the margins still in the early years of the 16th century, and copying long passages from them in Madrid Ms. II, at the time of his stay in Piombino (1502-1504). In Ms. L he indicates a travel itinerary, with the distances, from Buonconvento to Foligno passing through Chiusi. In the same manuscript he studies the bell in the Siena tower and mentions his friend Vannoccio Biringuccio, author of the treatise De la pirotechnia. In the art of this territory, traces of Leonardo's influence can be seen in various works from Sinalunga to Asciano painted by Sienese masters, most notable among them Sodoma and Pacchia.

    Arbia (torrent) • Armaiuolo • Asciano • Bagni di Petriolo • Bagni di San Filippo • Buonconvento • Camigliano • Capraia (Castle of) • Castelnuovo Berardenga • Castiglione d'Orcia • Cetona • Crevole • Cuna • Farnetella • Fontebecci • Formone (torrent) • Fosini • Lucignano d'Arbia • Merse (river) • Monastero d'Ombrone • Montalcino • Montefollonico • Montelifrè • Montepescini • Monteriggioni • Monteroni d'Arbia • Monticchiello • Monticiano • Montisi • Murlo • Ombrone (river) • Orcia (river) • Paglia (river) • Petroio • Poggio Santa Cecilia • Ponte a Macereto • Quercegrossa • Radicofani • Radicondoli • Rapolano Terme • Rosia • San Lorenzo a Merse • San Quirico d'Orcia • Sarteano • Selvole • Serre di Rapolano • Siena • Sinalunga • Sovicille • Tocchi • Torre a Castello • Torri • Torrita di Siena • Trequanda • Vignoni (Bagno)
  • This broad territory traversed by the Arno river was systematically scoured by Leonardo along the routes between Florence, Vinci, Empoli and Pisa. His reconnaissance was not limited to a route running along the two banks of the river, but was extended to the surrounding hills, all accurately indicated and measured on numerous maps (RL 12277, RL 12278, RL 12685, Madrid II: ff. 22v-23r, 53r, 2r, 15r, 16r). This route connects without a break to those routes and geographic areas that, proceeding along the Arno from upstream to downstream, are indicated on maps RL 12278 and RL 12685 as "Florence and surroundings", "Prato-Pistoia", "Val di Pesa and Val di Greve", "Montalbano", "Valdelsa", "Volterrano and Valdera", "Pisa and surroundings". Leonardo traversed these places innumerable times, from childhood to his second Florentine period (1508), and probably again at the time of his departure for France (1516). In addition, this territory was at the centre of his studies pertinent to the projects for deviating the Arno: for the Florence Canal (at least from 1473 to 1513) and for the Canal leading to the Stagno di Livorno (around 1503-1504).

    Balconevisi • Bucciano • Canneto • Egola (torrent) • Empoli • Granaiolo • Malmantile • Montebicchieri • Montelupo Fiorentino • Monterappoli • Montescalari • Pontorme • San Miniato • San Quintino • Toiano
  • Since his childhood Leonardo had been familiar with this territory, in his frequent travels along the valley and over the hills to the left of the Arno in the direction of Florence, as well as in the voyages he took, starting at least from 1501, through Chianti, in the direction of Siena and Rome. In particular, while serving as engineer to Cesare Borgia (1502-1503), he extended his cartographic studies on map RL 12278 (Windsor Castle), where the strongholds in the area are sketched in part with detailed indications, in part with conventional drawings.

    Badia a Passignano • Castello delle Stinche • Greve (river) • Impruneta (basilica di Santa Maria) • Lamole • Lucardo • Mercatale • Montefioralle • Montegufoni • Montespertoli • Panzano in Chianti • Rignana • Sambuca • San Casciano in Val di Pesa • San Donato in Poggio • Virginio (torrent)
  • From the hills of Vinci and Montalbano, the young Leonardo could see the Valle dell’Elsa on the horizon. Undoubtedly he traversed it, also touching on the localities of the ancient Via Francigena, on his way to Siena and perhaps to Rome. Leonardo's systematic knowledge of this territory is demonstrated by map RL 12278 (realised while serving under Cesare Borgia) and by some notes of historical and geological nature found, along with memories of friendships, on the Codices Leicester, Arundel and Atlanticus.

    Agliena (torrent) • Bagni di Mommialla • Barberino Val d'Elsa • Barbialla • Cambiano • Camporbiano • Casole d'Elsa • Castel San Gimignano • Castelfiorentino • Castelnuovo d'Elsa • Catignano • Certaldo • Colle di Val d'Elsa • Collegalli • Elsa (river) • Gambassi Terme • Linari • Marcialla • Montaione • Pietra • Poggibonsi • Rovine di Castelvecchio • San Gimignano • Santa Maria Novella • Santo Stefano • Staggia • Staggia (torrent) • Tonda, Castellare di • Varna • Vico d'Elsa
  • Map RL 12278 and above all RL 12683 (Windsor Castle) show how this zone, around 1502-1504, held great strategic importance for Leonardo, being involved in the Florentine military campaign to recapture Pisa (which had become independent at the time of the incursion into Italy of Charles VIII, King of France) and thus to the project for deviating the Arno away from the rebellious city. Leonardo's reconnaissance of the territory was not, however, entirely systematic, especially as regards the territories farthest away from the course of the Era, and this fact explains the presence of irrefutable errors in the positioning of some localities, as in the case of the Terricciola area.

    Era (river) • Fabbrica
  • Leonardo took an interest in Val di Chiana, which had been named in ancient times for the river Clanis, a tributary of the Tiber, especially during the years 1502-1503, at the time of Cesare Borgia. This area, occupied in the Middle Ages by a swamp extending nearly 40 km, mentioned also by Dante in the Inferno, was subjected, starting from 1342, to a number of land reclamation initiatives conducted by Arezzo and Florence, attempting to drain the waters into the Arno by digging a master canal which, during the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, reached as far as the Lake Montepulciano. In Leonardo's time the Palude, or swamp, began at Ponte alla Nave and extended, after Ponte a Vaiano, as far as Ponte a Beccatiquello; on map RL 12278 (Windsor Castle), the relationship between the marshlands and the watercourses that flowed into them is evident. Significant on map RL 12277 is the note «Braccio da Montone closed it where necessary», referring to the channeling underground of a canal that connected the Chiana to the Lake of Perugia, that is, Lake Trasimeno. Leonardo's studies in this zone are extremely thorough. Shown on map RL 12682 are the distances between the two chains of hills that bound the valley to the east (Castiglion Fiorentino, Montecchio, Cortona,...) and to the west (Foiano della Chiana, Lucignano, …) as well as indication of the route from Arezzo to Cortona in the direction of Perugia; on map RL 12278 instead, the itinerary leading to Foiano della Chiana through Ponte a Pietra is described.

    Battifolle • Calcione • Castiglion Fiorentino • Cesa • Chiana (river) • Chianciano Terme • Chiani • Chiusi • Ciggiano • Cilone (torrent) • Civitella in Valdichiana • Contignano • Cortona • Foiano della Chiana • Gargonza • I Ponti • Lucignano • Mammi • Marciano • Monte San Savino • Montecchio • Montepulciano • Pierle • Poggiola • Ponte a Chiani • Ponte alla Nave • Renello • Rigomagno • Santa Maria alla Poggiola • Torre Beccati • Valiano • Vingone (torrent)
  • Leonardo takes an interest in the Valtiberina on physical map RL 12277 and, above all, on RL 12278 (Windsor Castle); particularly significant for him must have been San Sepolcro (the city of Piero della Francesca and Luca Pacioli), Anghiari (with its memories of the battle fought and won by the Florentines on June 29, 1440), La Verna (for its Franciscan heritage, its works of art and the ice-hole mentioned in the Codex Leicester) and Caprese, the alleged birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Strangely enough, Leonardo indicates "Pratomagno", a ridge that in reality divides the Casentino area from that of the Upper Valdarno, in an erroneous position, on the other side of the Tiber and of Città di Castello, and thus in Umbria instead of between Vallombrosa, Loro Ciuffenna and Poppi. It is probable that Leonardo had, instead, indicated Pratomagno in the correct position, but in handwriting now become almost illegible in the obscurity that accentuates the mountain's height, on physical map RL 12277.

    Anghiari • Badia Tedalda • Caprese Michelangelo • Castello di Montauto • Montedoglio • Monterchi • Pieve Santo Stefano • Sansepolcro
  • On maps RL 12277, RL 12278 and RL 12683 (Windsor Castle), great importance is conferred on the city of Volterra, located between Val di Cecina and Valdera; a center of historic-artistic interest, Volterra had in fact, since antiquity, played an important strategic role, both for its position within the Tuscan system of roadways and for the mining resources in its territory. Evidently, Leonardo traversed its territory while serving under Cesare Borgia and at the time of the war waged by Florence against Pisa (around 1503), but conducting non-systematic reconnaissance justified by his fragmented knowledge of the area.

    Berignone • Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina • Cecina (river) • Leccia • Mensano • Monte Voltraio • Montecastelli • Montecerboli • Montemiccioli • Pavone (torrent) • Possera (torrent) • Sasso Pisano • Sellate (torrent) • Sillano, rocca di • Volterra