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Vinci

Italy > Vinci

Vinci

Mount Albano, in the Arno plain, seems to bar the way to the river and divides the Florentine plain from that which, from Empoli, reaches the Tyrrhenian Sea. At Montelupo, the Arno has difficulty finding its way and forms a narrow passage. The mountain has this name simply by virtue of its perfect isolation and is a rough sequence of hills among which those with most westerly exposure enjoy the benefits of the climate. The Counts of Guidi, who built turreted castles to control their fertile lands, were very much aware of this phenomenon. Olive groves and vineyards spread their joy everywhere, while luxurious mansions were hidden behind thick curtains of cypress and pine forests. In the mountain's highest area, in the village of Pietramarina, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, kept a "Barco," their guarded reserves for game hunting and pleasure. Amongst the host of small towns and villages watching guard over these sites is Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo. The great inventor was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero, a notary of Florence and descendant of a local family owning houses and land in the small town of Anchiano. Most of the attractions of this town centre focus on the figure and work of Leonardo; however it is no less endowed with scenic beauty and other monuments.

Below the rare, "almondshaped" castle of the Guidi, of the twelfth century, flocked ruthless troops led by Uguccione della Faggiola, Castruccio Castracani and Giovanni Acuto. Today, the fear of attacks having faded, a Museum and Leonardo Library are housed in the Castle. Of the most curious exhibits, mention must be made of the models for a sort of ancestor of the modern air conditioner, a projection device, a selfpropelled vehicle, a machine for making coins, a helicopter, a parachute, a swing bridge, hydraulic machines, a tank, a double-hull boat and a bicycle. In short, all the various designs born from a brilliant and untiring mind. Strolling down the Strada verde, a beautiful trail through the olive groves, you reach the village of Anchiano, where you can visit the birthplace of Leonardo and an exhibition of drawings of views of the Tuscan countryside and a map of the Arno Valley. Obviously the name of the genius cannot escape the inns and restaurants. So you can sleep chez "La Gioconda" or eat and drink "Da Leonardo'.' Yes, it's difficult to escape the presence of such a great man and even the baptismal font where he was baptized as an infant or the narrow streets and paths where he probably wandered in contemplation are sign-posted. Then there are the monuments that recall some of his famous works such as The Horse, created in 1997 by the sculptor Nina Akamu, in the likeness of the colossal statue of Francesco Sforza and never brought to completion, or The Man from Vinci, a wooden statue inspired by the reproduction of the famous man of Vitruvius. Every year, during the Celebration of Leonardo, exhibitions, meetings and debates are organised on a theme, including the much awaited Lettura vinciana, the annual study sessions held by a Vinci scholar of great renown.

You can escape this pleasantly comprehensible servitude to Leonardo and take refuge in the beautiful Romanesque churches of the villages of Vinci: the ancient parish church of Ansano, mentioned in 998, with an altarpiece by the School of Giotto, the church of S. Maria Assunta in Faltognano, which offers one of the best landscape paintings of Mount Albano and the church of St. Peter in SantAmato, of pure Romanesque style.

Vinci belongs, with four other adjacent municipalities, to the Consorzio museale Terre del Rinascimento (Museum Consortium of the Land of the Renaissance), whose aim is to develop cultural and educational activities. A computer lab is located in the Palazzina Uzielli in Vinci and this important feature, coupled also with the efficient organization of local tourism and the establishment of a Leonardo museum circuit unit, has contributed significantly to the awarding of the Italian Touring Club Orange Flag.

Sights:

The Leonardo Museum in the castle of the Guidi the birthplace of Leonardo along the "Strada Verde" the churches in the villages around Vinci.

Reason for awarding the Orange Flag

The town has an efficient tourist infor-mation service and a comprehensive website, strongly oriented to the visi-tor. Effective sign-posting to the sights and monuments and street furniture are coordinated and integrated with the architectural context.

 
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