Things to do in Vinci, the home town of Leonardo

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Vinci, following of the genius of Leonardo

Vinci is a pretty hilltop town famous all over the world for having given birth to one of the greatest geniuses in the history of humanity: Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, in 1452 the great Renaissance painter, inventor, scientist, engineer (and so on) who, with his works, left an indelible mark in all fields of knowledge and art, was born here.

Located about fifty kilometers from Florence, Vinci is located on the slopes of Montalbano in Lower Valdarno and is today part of the Museum System “MuDEV – Museo diffuso dell’Empolese Valdelsa” which also includes the municipalities of Capraia and Limite, Cerreto Guidi, Empoli, Fucecchio, Montelupo Fiorentino, Montespertoli, Montaione Gambassi Terme and Certaldo.

Things to do in Vinci

Things to do in Vinci

The visit to Vinci is focused on the discovery of the places that linked to Leonardo as his birthplace and the museum dedicated to him. But not only that, as we will see Vinci and its surroundings also offer other interesting ideas.

Casa natale di Leonardo da Vinci

Unlike what one might think, Leonardo’s birthplace is not exactly in Vinci but in the hamlet of Anchiano, a couple of kilometers away. Recently restored, the home of Leonardo presents a beautiful tour route rich in multimedia content and interesting ideas.

In the first room we find a virtual path that traces the history of the great artist through his production from the origins in the workshop of Verrocchio to the realization of the most famous and important works. In the rooms of the house we find numerous testimonies relating to the life of the master and his connection with his homeland. One of the main attractions of the house is undoubtedly the hologram of Leonardo da Vinci which tells visitors the story of the great artist.

Leonardo's birthplace
Leonardo’s birthplace (Photo by AlbaCiC / CC BY)

Leonardo’s house can be visited with the single ticket that also provides access to the Leonardo Museum in Vinci. For detailed information on timetables and prices, I refer you to the official website of the museum.

Museo Leonardiano in Vinci

The Leonardo Museum of Vinci is the second unmissable step in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci. Housed in two historic buildings such as the Conti Guidi’s Castle and the Palazzina Uzielli, the museum is dedicated to retracing the life and works of the great master, making use of the reconstruction of over 60 of his machines and projects as well as the reproduction of many of his works. Here there are often educational workshops, activities dedicated to children and very interesting temporary exhibitions.

Museo Leonardiano in Vinci
Museo Leonardiano in Vinci (Photo by Sailko / CC BY)

As well as the birthplace, the Leonardo Museum also makes extensive use of technological tools and there is also a dedicated app called “Museo Leonardo Vinci”, very rich in information on Leonardo and the museum.

Castello dei Conti Guidi

House of the Leonardian Museum since 1953 (year of opening of the museum), the Conti Guidi’s Castle hosts numerous models of Leonardo’s machines and some valuable works of art such as the Madonna with Child by Giovanni della Robbia and L’Uomo di Vinci, a great wooden culture by Mario Ceroli inspired by the famous Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. Among the various machines reproduced inside the castle, we find the “automobile” wagon, the swing wing and a 1: 2 scale model of the tower crane used to complete the cusp of the dome of the Duomo of Florence. Also inside the castle we find the Biblioteca Leonardiana (library), an optical room dedicated to the studies conducted by Leonardo on light and, in the tower, a video room that projects documentaries about the great master. Finally, I recommend you climb to the top of the tower to enjoy a great view of the surrounding hills!

Conti Guidi's Castle in Vinci
Conti Guidi’s Castle (Photo by Sailko / CC BY)

Chiesa di Santa Croce

The Church of Santa Croce dates back to the thirteenth century but over the centuries it has been remodeled several times and the current appearance, in neo-Renaissance style, is the result of a refurbishment of the 20-30s of the twentieth century. Santa Croce preserves some interesting paintings such as the Nativity of the Virgin by Francesco Brina, the Virgin of the Rosary, the Magdalene, the Holy Name of Mary, the Miracle of San Biagio attributed to Gaetano Piattoli and an Adoration of the Magi by Pier Dandini. In the Chapel of the Crucifix there are instead the relics of the Holy Cross, a wooden crucifix and an image of the Addolorata. This is the church where Leonardo da Vinci was baptized and in 1952, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his birth, the ancient baptismal font was restored in a chapel dedicated to it.

What to see and what to do around Vinci

We have already talked about Leonardo’s birthplace. If you want, you can reach it on foot along the Strada Verde, a path that connects Vinci and Anchiano about 3 kilometers long. The itinerary is quite easy and therefore is also suitable for families; an excellent opportunity to combine nature and culture!

In Sant’Ansano, just under 4 kilometers from Vinci, there is the ancient Pieve di San Giovanni Battista. The church is a beautiful Romanesque-style monument and dates from the late 10th century. Inside there are some interesting works, in particular a canvas by Rutilio Manetti, Sant’Alessandro freed from prison by an angel, a panel with Sant’Ansano and angels attributed to Puccio di Simone and an Sant’Antonio da Padova, San Brunone and St. Philip Neri.

Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Sant'Ansano
Pieve di San Giovanni Battista (Photo by Vignaccia76 / CC BY)

If you are a nature lover, you might also be interested in the Padule di Fucecchio which is 18 kilometers away from Vinci. With its approximately 2000 hectares, the Padule di Fucecchio is the largest inland marsh in Italy. Here there are many varieties of plants and it is possible to admire species of birds such as herons, cranes and storks.

In this area, I recommend that you also visit Empoli and Cerreto Guidi, a pretty village with a beautiful sixteenth-century Medici Villa.

How to get to Vinci

By train and bus: with the train at most you can get to Empoli which is about 10 kilometers away; near the station of Empoli you can take the bus that takes you to Vinci (it takes 25-30 minutes).

By car: by car it is generally advisable to take the Florence-Pisa-Livorno (FI-PI-LI) to Empoli and then follow the signs for Vinci.

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