Medio Valdarno - Empoli


By 'Valcollevisi', Leonardo indicates the stronghold of Balconevisi, in the Commune of San Miniato.


Leonardo represents and indicates the stronghold of Bucciano, in the Commune of San Miniato.


By 'Caneto' Leonardo indicates the stronghold of Canneto, in the Commune of San Miniato.


By 'Evola', Leonardo indicates, on maps RL 12278 and RL 12277 (Windsor Castle), the course of the Egola, which flows through the Communes of Fucecchio, Gambassi Terme, Montaione, and San Miniato. Coordinates taken in the Boscotondo locality.


A centre of art, commerce and communication, Empoli was important for Leonardo's formation. He represents and indicates the fortified city on maps RL 12278 and 12685. He also mentions it in Madrid Ms. II (ff. 2r, 16r, 23r) in connection with the project for deviating the Arno; on the route from Florence to Pisa, and in particular from Empoli to Cascina, with the relevant distances. In the Collegiate and its Museum are important works by Masolino, Rossellino, Mino da Fiesole, Filippo Lippi, Botticini and Andrea Della Robbia.


Leonardo represents and indicates the castle of Granaiolo, in the Commune of Empoli, at the heart of the Val d'Elsa. Its name reveals its characteristic of granary for the Florentine Republic.


Leonardo represents and indicates Malmantile on maps RL 12278, 12685, 12279, in Madrid Ms. II (f. 23r); he also mentions it in Madrid Ms. II (ff. 3r, 16r). The stronghold, whose construction was probably supervised by Brunelleschi, is located in the Commune of Lastra a Signa, along one of the roads that led from Florence to Montelupo Fiorentino and then to Vinci. A tradition no longer accredited (in spite of the presence of a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Snow) identified it as the stronghold appearing in Leonardo's drawing dated "the day of Our Lady of the Snow, 5 August 1473".


By 'Bichieri', Leonardo indicates the stronghold of Montebicchieri, in the Commune of San Miniato.

Montelupo Fiorentino

Leonardo is interested in Montelupo for at least four reasons: as a production centre of artistic ceramics (with important masters and prominent clients), for its thoroughfares of communication, for his studies on the Arno valley and the Val di Pesa, and for his observations on the conformation of the terrain. On the maps for deviating the Arno into the Pistoia Canal, around 1503, he draws it on RL 12685; indicates it on maps RL 12278 and 12279, and in Madrid Ms. II (folios 3r, 15r, 16r, 23r). Leonardo was well acquainted with the kilns of Montelupo (15 kilometres from Vinci), as is confirmed by the itinerary on folio 15r of Madrid Ms. II from Signa to "Monisterio, Pescaia, Fornaci, Montelupo". This is an annotation dating from the years in which "moresca" (Moorish) majolica decorated with intertwined patterns resembling the "Vincian knots" was produced at Montelupo. Other mentions of the town are found in the Codex Atlanticus, on folio 201v, dating from 1505-1506: "How the beds of river rise with the passage of tme toward the surface of the water, as shown by the Arno that runs from Monte Lupo down, where once there was sea, and before it did not run ". And in the Codex Leicester (c. 1506-1508), on folio 6A-31v: "... and the Arno is similar, at Monte Albano, around Monte Lupo and Capraia, where the great boulders and are all made of agglomerated pebbles, of different stones and colours"; and on folio 8B-8v: "Near where the rivers fell tino the sea at great depth, like the Arno, which fell at Golfolina near Monte Lupo, and left there the pebbles which, as can still be seen, have formed a single agglomeration made up of stones of various countries, kinds, colours and degrees of hardness...".


Leonardo represents and indicates the castle of Monterappoli, in the Commune of Empoli, to which - already in the Middle Ages - it was united along with that of Pontorme.


Leonardo represents and indicates Montescalari, the abbey that constituted a reference point in Val d'Ema. According to tradition, on October 21, 1474 Andrea del Verrocchio cast the bell for the tower, commissioned by the Abbot Don Isidoro; it was adorned with bas-relief sculpture, with representations of the 'Virgin and Child' and of San Giovanni Gualberto, as well as the heraldic arms of the Abbey, and was blessed by the name of Santa Brigida. In 1775 the abbey was suppressed and the bell, was sold and melted down for its metal.


By 'Pontormo', Leonardo represents and indicates the stronghold of Pontorme, on maps RL 12278 and RL 12685, in the Commune and at the gates of Empoli, on the road to Montelupo. It was a centre of ceramics production, as well as the birthplace of Pontormo.

San Miniato

By 'San Miniato al Tedessco', Leonardo indicates, on map RL 12278, the imperial city of San Miniato. A fortification of primary administrative, strategic and cultural importance, also for controlling the roads and rivers (Via Francigena and Via Pisana, Valdarno and Val d'Elsa), it was rebuilt by Federico II around 1226. Leonardo mentions San Miniato as an area where fossil seashells are found in the Codex Leicester (f. 9A-9r); in Madrid Ms. II (ff. 2r, 16r) the place, indicated on the road connecting Empoli and Pisa, is also accompanied by the distances from these centres. Famous is the meeting between Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo in this city, which also excercised authority as vicariate over Vinci.

San Quintino

By 'San Gionettino', Leonardo indicates the stronghold of San Quintino, in the Commune of San Miniato.


Leonardo represents and indicates Toiano, in the Commune of Palaia.

Texts by
Alessandro Vezzosi, in collaboration with Agnese Sabato / English translation by Catherine Frost
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