Among the illustrious characters that were born in the Terre di Rinascimento (Land of the Renaissance), there are several outstanding names including artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci and Jacopo Carucci aka Pontormo, one of the greatest modern mannerists in Tuscany. Both of their houses can be seen in Vinci and Empoli, respectively.
LEONARDO’S HOME, ANCHIANO
A visit to Leonardo’s family home in Anchiano is the perfect complement to your visit of the Leonardo Museum. Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 in this traditional rural 15th-century home located near the residential area of Vinci on the slopes of the Montealbano, an enchanting cluster of hills between the Florence and Pistoia provinces. The house was placed squarely in local traditional by 19th century historiographer Emanuele Repetti. We know from documents that a property which already existed in 1427 was purchase by Piero da Vinci, father of Leonardo, in 1482. We can presume that Leonardo would come here to visit his family during the early 16th century when he dedicated himself to studies and projects around Vinci.
The house remained in the Da Vinci family until 1629 and was passed into numerous hands before being donated to the City of Vinci by Count Giovanni Rasini from Castelcampo in 1950. After being restored, the house was inaugurated on April 15, 1952 at the end of the celebrations marking the fifth centenary of Leonardo’s birth. In 1986, architect Fausto Colombo presided over a renewal and restructuring project of all Da Vinci related place in the area, including the inside of the house. Between Anchiano and Vinci we find the ancient trail called the “green road” that winds 3km through olive groves typical of the Montalbano area. The road can be crossed on foot in approximately 30 minutes.
PONTORMO’S HOUSE, EMPOLI
Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo, was born in 1494 in Pontorme, a tiny hamlet near Empoli on the road to Florence. The recently restored house is located in the center of the town and is now a museum open to the public. The bottom floor boasts a copy of Pontormo’s diary, which highlights Jacopo’s humanity. His artistic expression is found in the copy of the sheets he drew in preparation for the San Michele altarpiece.
From these, we can truly see the particular style that makes him one of the most important figures in the “modern manner” of painting. We can see his passion for Hellenistic art, his disposition towards foreign languages and his attraction to German figurative art, Durer in particular. Some of the ceramic relics testify to the area’s “common” origins. The first floor houses a beautiful ancient replica of Pontormo’s “Madonna del libro”, a work that has been only recently identified as his.
The rest of the interior corresponds to the house’s current function—the center for 16th century art in the Tuscan province and the educational section of the City of Empoli’s cultural heritage sector. The center hosts workshops, conferences, theatre performances and seminars. Pontormo’s 1519 altarpiece depicting St. John the Evangelist and St. Michael the Archangel is conserved in the church of San Michele in the center of Pontorme.
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