Italian Wine: Leonardo’s Vineyard’s Undiscovered Gem
Leonardo da Vinci is a man who really doesn’t require any sort of introduction. His paintings have converted him into a legend, and he is widely considered the most famous artist of the Renaissance. And he was a brilliant mind to boot. In addition to his artistic prowess, he was also a creative innovator whose imagination constantly gushed out novel concepts. Although he is widely recognized for his contributions to science and art, not everyone is aware that Leonardo da Vinci also had a deep love for wine and the wine industry.
Every endeavor he attempted met with remarkable success, and he was universally admired and revered for his intelligence during his lifetime. The centuries that have passed since his death have only increased his esteem and veneration. Everyone is familiar with that side of da Vinci. Aside from his many other interests, the great man may have had a penchant for Italian wine. Additionally, he enjoyed it for more than just its liquid form. Da Vinci developed such a passion for wine that he planted a vineyard specifically for that purpose. The Vox City team offers guided tours of Leonardo’s Vineyard, one of Milan’s most cherished attractions. As you look around, you’ll be astonished to discover about the buried narrative of a vineyard that connects Leonardo da Vinci to the city of Milan. Now that it has been revitalized and its original vines restored, you can explore it at your own speed with the help of a multilingual audio guide.
Story of the Leonardo’s Vineyard
In 1480, it all began. Around that time, da Vinci made up his mind to relocate to Milan. His fame grew among the city’s elite, and eventually he was commissioned to paint what would become his most iconic work, “The Last Supper.”
Since it is one of the most well-known paintings in the world, we can safely assume that the vast majority of you have seen it. In 1495, the Duke of Milan issued that mandate. A little over two years passed during da Vinci’s labor. In addition to whatever money the duke made to the renowned artist, he also gave him an entire vineyard as a gift.
The size of that vineyard is unclear because it was estimated in perch. The Romans left behind an old method of measuring land, but it’s unclear how well it corresponds to modern standards. On the other hand, it has been estimated that it is between two and three acres in size. We do know that da Vinci had an emotional connection to the vineyard. In one of his many notebooks, he documented its characteristics and assessed its value at just over 1,900 ducats. That’s more than six times the average salary for a government worker in the 1950s.
Importance beyond Wine
According to 16th-century maps, da Vinci’s vineyard was planned around a central tree, with the rest of the land radiating outwards. The site was also home to the artist’s own residence, where he spent a great deal of time creating his works. One can only imagine the wines that Leonardo da Vinci must have crafted from the grapes he grew on his vineyard. But there’s more to the story of why this item held such significance for him.
Landownership was a prerequisite for citizenship at the time in Milan. The duke had effectively granted da Vinci city status when he gave him a vineyard as a present. For a number of years, he was one of Italy’s most prominent socialites thanks to his vineyard. Sadly, such was no longer the case as of the year 1499. It was the French assault of Milan that ultimately led to the duke’s overthrow. The French finally settled on acquiring da Vinci’s land after many years of arguing over it. To that, he promptly packed everything and relocated to Venice.
Milan’s standing as an art capital took a major hit because of this. Therefore, in 1507, the French decided to return da Vinci’s vineyard as a gift. They appear to have had just one goal in mind, and that was to lure the great man back to the place he had spent so many years calling home.
What Happened Next
Da Vinci graciously accepted the present, and he appears to have remained in Milan for at least a few more years after 1507. Still, in 1513 he took the decision to relocate permanently to France. Here, six years later, he finally breathed his last. According to da Vinci’s bequest, Giovanbattista Villani and Gian Giacomo Caprotti were each to receive half of the vineyard. The former had been the artist’s longtime servant. According to urban legend, the latter was da Vinci’s secret lover and his very last apprentice.
Sadly, the vineyard fell victim to the ebb and flow of time. The vineyard and the house it was tied to fell into disrepair during the succeeding generations. In 1920, the vineyard was purchased by new owners who faced the daunting challenge of bringing it back to its former grandeur in the hopes of producing wines similar to those da Vinci would have made. Forlornly, they were unable to see any success in their efforts. In the decades that followed, da Vinci’s vineyard was obliterated by a combination of expanding cities, World War II bombings, and a devastating fire. It faded away, seemingly relegated to the pages of history.
Serena Imazio, a grape scientist, rediscovered the vineyard after reading a sign that said it had once been da Vinci’s. Surprised that no one else had seen, she went to question the veracity of a nearby door’s sign. The proprietors verified what everyone in the wine industry already suspected. Needless to say, Imazio couldn’t simply accept their word for it. She was instrumental in conceiving up the Leonardo project, an excavation of the site to determine whether or not it existed and, if so, what kinds of native grapes da Vinci grew there.
They found out that a vineyard actually existed there. Also, the paperwork proved that da Vinci had been the owner. In 2015, the location was made available to the general public. You can now tour da Vinci’s personal vineyard, just as the great man himself must have done when he received the land 500 years ago. Even better, you can drink wines that the nice bloke may have created hundreds of years ago.
Vox City gives you an access to visit Leonardo’s Vineyard by taking a self-guided tour or you may opt for a guided tour with a local guide. The choice is truly yours. Walk through Casa degli Atellani’s rooms, gardens, vines, and greenhouses while your guide tells you everything about its interesting Renaissance background, or explore it on your own with a self-guided tour.
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