Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci lived in Milan for 20 years? To this day, we can still explore the city following in the footsteps of this outstanding genius. Culture aficionados, follow me on an extraordinary stroll...
I will take you to Milan, for a tour in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, the great Renaissance genius. Born in Tuscany, Da Vinci lived in Milan for 20 years, from 1482 to 1499, at the service of the almighty Duke Ludovico Sforza. He left behind a legacy that you can explore as part of an extraordinary tour!
Stroll in the vibrant neighbourhood of the navigli, the canals of Milan
Let’s head towards the lively neighbourhood of the navigli (canals), one of the most famous parts of the city. For going out, it has even become THE trendy area of Milan! The setting is superb and romantic as can be: you can wander up the canal banks, you will come across many small bars, terraces, shops... Perfect for the aperitivo, an Italian tradition which starts around 6 p.m.. On the last Sunday of each month a big flea market is held, for antique and curio aficionados
Did you know?
This canal and waterway system was built over 7 centuries (from the 12th to the 19th) and connected Lake Maggiore to lake Como, the Ticino river and the Po river, and also connected Milan to Switzerland. It was designed by Leonardo da Vinci towards the end of the 15th century. We can still see them alongside the Naviglio Pavese.
An absolute must-do: A walk along the canals (April to end of September).
Adult fare: €12 (€10 for children under 10 years). Tickets can be bought directly on board.
The Ambrosiana Picture Gallery’s treasures
Then onto the Ambrosiana Picture Gallery, one of the richest in Milan and Europe, where you can see the works of Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael and two paintings by Da Vinci: the Musico and a portrait of Nobildonna con file di perle. The picture gallery’s library also houses the Codex Atlanticus, the famous bound set of writings and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Every 3 months, in turn, a series of 22 folios is exhibited
The Science and Technology Museum
Are you on a family trip in Milan ? Then don’t miss this museum, dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci: The Leonardo da Vinci national Science and Technology Museum. Set in a 16th century monastery, it is Italy’s biggest science and technology museum. You can see reproductions of Leonardo’s works and also a superb gallery showing scale models based on his drawings. The museum is well worth a visit for that alone!
You can also operate a number of interactive models, to understand how the techniques used in the Renaissance work. A nice trip out with the children or for science and technology nerds!
Admire a legendary painting!
You can’t leave Milan without going to see Leonardo da Vinci’s very famous “Last Supper”, which hangs on the front wall of the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Always in the background as the monks ate lunch and dinner, it was meant to remind them that life in the religious community is an extension of the life of Christ and the apostles. The Last Supper was commissioned from Leonardo by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, as part of a beautification project on the convent and the church.
Leonardo created a sublime example of the new perspective, introduced in Florentine art, opening up the wall at the back of the refectory with the illusion of a spacious room.
After a long restoration period, this admirable fresco has been put back on public display. It is preferable to book over the internet via an official guide who will explain to you all about the painting and its context. Be sure to arrive on time, as the visit only lasts 15 minutes, not one minute more! You can also try your luck directly at the museum ticket booth, at opening time.
In the Milan area
Check out Trezzo sull’Adda, a beautiful stroll for the Leonardo admirers. He drew inspiration from the landscape surrounding the town to paint several backgrounds of his paintings, including the Mona Lisa and The Virgin of the Rocks. In Trezzo sull’Adda, you can also see a real working lock “with mitre gates”, reproducing the model drawn and described in the Codex Atlanticus.
Then head towards Lecco. In Inbersàgo you can observe the functioning of a unique ferry whose mechanism is the exact reproduction of one of Leonardo’s drawings.
Towards Pavia, south of Milan, Leonardo was behind the great farm-residence built for Ludovico le More, la Sforzesca, whose ingenious irrigation system for the paddy fields still amazes the experts.