Where was Leonardo da Vinci born? Which of his works can be seen in Florence? Get closer to Leonardo da Vinci with our itinerary that takes you from his hometown Vinci to Florence, where some of his works can be admired.
Leonardo da Vinci was born in Vinci, a small town near Florence in Tuscany. As a teenager he moved to Florence to study, at a time when the city was buzzing with creative ideas and a popular hub for talented artists. He travelled a lot during his life and ended up in France where he spent his last years at the court of the French king. But the Tuscan landscape kept creeping into his work as many of his paintings show.
Leonardo da Vinci birthplace – Anchiano near Vinci
Vinci would probably be just another one of the many Tuscan hilltop towns if it wasn’t for the fact that one of the greatest geniuses of all time was born here. It was the 15th of April 1452. Leonardo was the illegitimate child of a notary and a young peasant woman. Information about his birth and childhood are shrouded in mystery, as are many other facts about Leonardo’s life. We know that he was baptised in Vinci by a local priest, and that his father Sir Piero took him into his house and later brought him to Florence with him.
Today you can visit the house believed to be his birthplace. Fans of Leonardo will find it thrilling to enter the same rooms where Leonardo might have moved his first steps. It’s a restored farmhouse in Anchiano, just outside Vinci, surrounded by a peaceful olive grove. One thing is for sure; this is Leonardo’s childhood landscape, the place where he learned to love nature. It’s a landscape that was to stay with him throughout his life, and make an appearance in many of his paintings.
LEONARDO DA VINCI MUSEUM
The town of Vinci has a Museo Leonardiano dedicated to its most famous son. Here you can learn about the world of Leonardo, his inventions and eclectic interests that included flying, war machines, navigation, clocks and much more. Another museum is to be found in Florence, Via dei Servi 66-68red.
Leonardo da Vinci in Florence
In 1466 Leonardo moved to the big city, to live with his father. Despite not having had a standard education, he was clearly a very talented teenager, inquisitive and capable in many disciplines. And Florence was the perfect place for him to be, a city pulsating with creativity, new ideas and artistic experimentation.
Leonardo entered the famed workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, a Florentine sculptor who taught his pupils drawing, inlay work, sculpture, carpentry and architecture. The young Leonardo gave proof of his many talents, and by the age of 20 he was already registered as a master.
If you visit the Uffizi, there’s a painting on which Leonardo worked side by side with his master Verrocchio, the “Baptism of Christ” (1471-75). Here you can clearly see the superiority of the young apprentice’s technique. Leonardo painted the landscape and the angel on the left, that looks so much more expressive than the other figures. One anecdote says that Verrocchio, humbled by the superiority of his young pupil’s skills, decided to give up painting.
⇒ 10 curious facts about Leonardo da Vinci that everyone should know!
Leonardo’s paintings in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
The Uffizi Gallery, the world famous art museum in Florence, has two of Leonardo’s early paintings. One of these is “The Annunciation”, painted around 1475-80. The landscape, clearly inspired by the Tuscan countryside, is typical of his style, a background found in many of his paintings. The artist here tries to bring realism and naturalistic details into the scene.
⇒ Discover all the highlights of the Uffizi Gallery.
The “Adoration of the Magi” (1481) went back to the Uffizi in 2017 after 6 years of restoration. It’s a delight, with Mary at the centre, and all the dramatic figures moving in the background. It’s an unfinished painting that marks a shift in the history of painting. Leonardo captures the mood of the incredulous spectators who have come to witness the birth of jesus, and the diversity of physical types which was totally new in art.
Art passionate? Find out about the top Renaissance art masterpieces you can admire in Florence.
The statue of Leonardo in Florence
Da Vinci was larger than life, and perhaps as a result his work and achievements are complex and difficult to define. Florence disappointed him, and by 1482 he was already in Milan looking for work. Hoping to be better understood and appreciated for his work than in Florence, he travelled extensively in northern Italy and ended up in France at the court of the king. He died there in 1519.
Florence remembers him with a statue in the Piazzale degli Uffizi, a work by Neoclassical sculptor Luigi Pampaloni. He’s in good company, as he’s surrounded by all those who made Tuscany great, like Galileo and Dante. Leonardo, handsome and smartly dressed, stands in a recess watching the world and the crowds of tourists go by.