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Leonardo da Vinci is named as the ‘Renaissance Genius’. He was a scientist, a painter, an architect, an engineer a choreographer, an inventor and much more. A superior mind in a time of great artistic and scientific enlightenment which made Italy the country of knowledge and art.
Leonardo’s personality was driven by a speculative idea…he needed to understand and to explain natural phenomenon and he did it by a never-ending study. Nevertheless, even though he was acknowledged as a genius by all Renaissance courts, he was pursued and condemned for his homosexuality. At his laboratory in Florence and Milan (in his ‘bottega’), some scholars were involved in romances with him, which harassed his fame. Leonardo was said to be grumpy and misanthropic….but he fell in love with a young scholar, who he surnamed Salai (from Salaino, the Devil’s name). Salai was a handsome young man who had a very strong appeal on Leonardo, who accepted his turbulent and outrageous attitude. ‘St John the Baptist’ painting recalls Salai as a model and he has inspired many paintings (amongst them, the ‘Mona Lisa’). His scholar Salai was a turbulent character in Leonardo’s life. Salai was clearly a cheater, a thief….and Leonardo knew that. Nevertheless he kept the young man with him until two years before he died.
From 1517 to 1519 (Leonardo’s death), the artist with lived with Francesco Melzi, who inherited the papers and drawings of his great Master. At Villa Melzi in Vaprio d’Adda, he collected the painting studies and exercises into the ‘Book of Paintings’. Historical dinners in Leonardo’s style are organized in Vaprio, nowadays.
Leonardo homosexuality has long been a prickly subject. Many of his drawings and anatomic studies, as well as legal papers, deny this interpretation.
Sigmund Freud in his ‘ Child memories of Leonardo da Vinci’ (1910) discusses about his feminine attitude and his great generosity. Freud started his research from the Atlantic Codex, where Leonardo wrote few lines about a child memory: the artist remembers that, when a baby-boy in his cot, a kite flew on his mouth and flattered its tail on Leonardo’s mouth. In Freud’s opinion, this memory explains a lot about the artist’s alternate moods.
Another testimonial is the book ‘The Pink Stockings of Salai’ by Pietro Marani (2011), in which the author recalls the romance of Leonardo and Salai, pretending to be Francesco Melzi. He clearly gives evidence of Leonardo’s generosity to Salai who received a pair of pink stockings as a special gift from his master/lover.
€ 276,00 per person (min. 2 people)
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Full Day walking tour (6 hours, lunch not included)
Milan is the city where Leonardo worked most, after leaving Florence. Here he worked under Ludovico Sforza, the lord of the city, who gave him protection and work. Leonardo was free to create, design and organize whatever he wanted. The Sforza Castle (the Sforza family’s manor in Milan) witnesses the great and untiring genius of a troubled man: the ‘Sala delle Asse’, for example, is a room with painted trees and plants, showing precise details and testifying a profound naturalistic research.
In order to better understand the greatness of Leonardo, a visit to ‘Museum of Sciences’ is a must: here, drawings, artifacts, notes and projects concerning urban engineering, military strategy and weapons, natural sciences are visible.
A must-visit is the Leonardo 3D Museum: his exhibition is not to be missed. discover Leonardo’s working models of his machines and digitalized restorations of his paintings.The Submarine, the Time Machine, the Mechanical Dragonfly, the Rapid-Fire Crossbow, the Mechanical Eagle, the digital restoration of the Last Supper and the reconstruction of musical instruments are some of the most recent innovative additions to the exhibition.
Next stop on the Leonardo’s footsteps is the‘Ambrosiana Gallery’: beyond an astonishing Leonardo’s portrait of Salai, here is the Atlantic Codex, a collection of more than 1119 notes, drawings and research concerning mathematics, astronomy, optics, fables and food recipes, pictures of water pumps, war machines and parachutes. The Atlantic Codex is well conserved here since 1637, as the Ambrosiana Library was one of the first public libraries in Europe.
‘Leonardo’s Vineyard’, is the last stop during this tour. A small vineyard, with a beautiful Italian garden just in the heart of Milan. This was Leonardo’s last mansion which was passed on to Salai and his family.
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