Vinci, hiking and 100 species of birds: this is not the way to experience TuscanyApril 24, 2019
Florence, with its museums, is a hotspot for travelers on the trail of Leonardo da Vinci. But for the 500th anniversary of the genius, there are other places in Tuscany.
Vineyards and silvery olive groves extend over gentle slopes to Vinci. The unknown town with the world-famous name sits enthroned on a hill somewhere halfway between Florence and Pisa. From its center rise the castle and the church tower.
Vinci is the place that gave its name to one of the greatest geniuses of all time. It is the place that inspired the great Leonardo from earliest childhood – and then disappeared for centuries in the sinking.
Painter, engineer, philosopher, scientist, architect: When Leonardo da Vinci died in Amboise, France, on 2 May 1519, he not only left a life-work of 6,000 manuscript pages in various scientific disciplines, he also created masterpieces such as the “Mona Lisa” and “The last supper”.
This year, the universal scholar will be celebrated throughout Europe, with major special exhibitions in Italy, France, Great Britain, Poland and Germany. That his small hometown can hardly compete with the great museums is clear.
But compared to Tuscany hotspots such as Lucca, Siena and the tiny San Gimignano, through whose medieval streets year after year more than three million visitors jostle, Vinci dawns in a pleasant tourist hibernation – even in the anniversary year on the 500th anniversary of the most famous son of the City.
“I love Vinci”
Between the 12th century Castello dei Conti Guidi and Leonardo’s simple baptistery of Santa Croce, only two souvenir shops have hung their wares in front of the coarse stone walls in the historic center. There are T-shirts with “I love Vinci” prints, and the cartoon character Homer Simpson is shown as Leonardo’s Vitruvian man. And a few steps down the street is served the obligatory Ristorante Leonardo ribs in dark fruit sauce, as they should have 500 years ago.
But overall, Vinci has kept its charm: the shops around the marketplace, which instead of the usual knickknacks sell everyday items such as table linen, vegetables or hardware stores, are closed at lunchtime. And in the pizzeria eat students and not study travelers. Although now and then a coach torments the steep hills to the birthplace of the universal genius in the district of Anchiano. But not even before the ascent to the castle tower with its view over the terracotta roofs is someone queuing up.
Nor does anyone mind that the new ticket office for the three branches of the Leonardo Museum – the birthplace, the Villa del Ferrale with HD reproductions of all the artist’s paintings and the actual museum in the castle and the Palazzina Uzielli – still one Construction site is.
Farm rooms instead of big hotels
Tourist crowds could hardly cope with the 15,000-inhabitant place, which is ideal for trips to all corners of Tuscany, anyway. There are no big hotels in Vinci. Cypress avenues on the outskirts of town are rustic farmhouses that rent a handful of tourist rooms and provide their guests with olive oil and wine.
And even those are not fully booked, although in Vinci in the anniversary year a worth seeing exhibition runs – with a special exhibit: Until 15 October is in the Museo Leonardo to see the “Arnolandschaft”, da Vinci’s earliest dated drawing from 1473, alongside all sorts of models, documents and sketches. The opening in mid-April saw Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella pass.
Normally the sensitive original is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence – but under lock and key so that visitors to the museum can not see it. Now it has returned to the place it belongs, as some experts say. They assume that the drawing shows the view that is still visible today Leonardo’s birthplace enjoys – the striking, cone-shaped Monsummano, the Montalabano hills and Italy’s largest inland wetland, the Padule di Fucecchio. Other scientists claim that the drawing was made in nearby Montevettolini.
In a stone house in Anchiano, a district of the municipality Vinci, the multi-talented on April 15, 1452 as an illegitimate son of a maid and a notary to be born. Certainly the scientists are not. Today, wine and olives grow on the hills surrounding the “Casa natale di Leonardo”. On clear days you should see the sea sparkling on the horizon behind Pisa.
Inside, Leonardo’s biography is processed in a multimedia format, with an aged hologram that tells from the first-person perspective of the stages of his life. Outside, like the young Leonardo, who inspected the family lands with his uncle Francesco, probably drawing landscapes and animals back then, one can be inspired by nature.
Fascinated by nature
For example on the Via Caterina, The Hiking trail to nearby San Pantaleo is named after Leonardo’s mother. This was probably walking along here if she wanted to visit her son, who grew up in Vinci with the family of his father.
On the way, there is not only a beautiful view of the silhouette of Vinci. On closer inspection, Leonardo connoisseurs will find some of his motifs here: On the roadside grow White Dolden-Milchstern and Breitblättriger Cattail – plants, of which the naturalist once made detailed drawings.
The silver of the olive trees disappears into the distance in a pale haze, a natural effect, for which the painter developed his own soft-focus technique – called sfumato. And with the branches of the wicker, in Italian vinco In the past, the grapevines were tied. The knot is said to have used Leonardo in his paintings, including as an ornament on the dress of “Mona Lisa”, over and over again.
Experiencing nature like Leonardo – that is also possible in the Padule di Fucecchio, the Wetland where more than one hundred species of birds breed, With a kind of gondola, visitors can drive almost silently through the nature reserve. In the vast Schilflandschaft ducks hurry from one bank to the other, gliding herring gulls in the sky and herons fly over the water surface.
Leonardo once wanted to change the course of the Arno to dry and harness the land. But in this case, it is probably good that the tireless inventor began and tried many things – and did not complete all projects.
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