Vinci is a small town 44 kilometres west of Florence, famous the world over as the birthplace of the original Renaissance man – Leonardo Da Vinci. The town hosts an important museum dedicated to the work of Leonardo, and in nearby Anchiano you’ll find the farmhouse where he was born.
Leonardo travelled a lot during his life and ended his days in France, but the landscape of his native Tuscany remained close to his heart, as many of his paintings testify.
Vinci, the town that gave its name to Leonardo
Leonardo was born in 1452 just outside Vinci and this is where he spent his childhood. Visiting this small Medieval hilltop town surrounded by olive groves, gives us a sense of Leonardo’s beginnings. Emerging from the top of the walls is a big wooden sculpture representing Leonardo’s Vitruvian man. It’s the town’s signature piece by contemporary artist Mario Ceroli. Another contemporary sculpture inspired by Leonardo’s work is the bronze horse in Piazza della Libertà.
The Conti Guidi Castle that hosts the Leonardo Museum has early Medieval origins. The castle remained independent until 1254 when the Counts gave it up to Florence. The 20th century restoration gave it back its Medieval form, and today it dominates the village and the surrounding countryside and valleys, offering beautiful views.
The Leonardiano Museum in Vinci, Tuscany
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum houses models of Leonardo’s inventions alongside reproductions of the artist’s sketches and notes. The collection includes everything from mechanical clocks to unique machines that reveal Leonardo’s eclectic interests in flight, optics and navigation. The museum brings his fascinating ideas and theories to life, with sections dedicated to the different machines and models, and a video room. The museum building is divided into The Palazzina Uzielli and the Counts Guidi Castle.
The house where Leonardo was born in Anchiano
With a combined ticket you can visit the museum, and the farmhouse where is believed that Leonardo was born, in nearby Anchiano. There’s not much to see, but it’s a good place to learn more about the life of this extraordinary artist. Here, a life-size hologram of an old Leonardo tells the visitor the story of his life, his travels, the people he met, what he studied and explains his various discoveries.
You can reach the house by car or on foot along the 3 kilometre road to Anchiano that winds through olive groves. The house is open every day (March-October: 10am-7pm, and November-February: 10am-5pm).
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How to get there
Take the Strada Grande Comunicazione FI-PI-LI, exit Empoli Ovest and follow the signs to Vinci.
What to see nearby
The Medici Villa in Cerreto Guidi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An example of Renaissance architecture, Cosimo I de’ Medici wanted it as a hunting lodge. Today it hosts a a collection of weapons and paintings depicting hunting scenes. Cerreto Guidi is located 5 kms. from Vinci.