Looking for something to do outdoors that’s fun for the whole family? Did you know that in Tuscany you can easily combine outdoor recreation with cultural explorations? Vinci, the birth town of Leonardo, is just one of many regional examples. Near the historic center you’ll find his original home, which can be reached on foot via a nature path known as the Strada Verde. Walking for just about 3 kilometers (round trip), following the wooden signs, you’ll arrive in the small town of Anchiano, where the artist-scientist-architect-engineer was born on April 15, 1452.
This hiking itinerary can be followed throughout the year, but we encourage trying it out during milder seasons, such as autumn and spring.
You can kick off the itinerary with a cultural visit to the Leonardo Museum in Vinci, headquartered in the Castello dei Conti Guidi. The museum houses numerous machine models, reconstructed following the examples laid out in Leonardo’s research.
In the castle halls, visitors can inch closer to the immense cultural patrimony bequeathed to us by the greatest scientist in history. Among the most fascinating reproductions are the flying machine (a precursor to the helicopter), the automated carriage (an “ancestor” of the automobile), scientific instruments, manuscripts and other inventions.
The real excursion begins at the tip of the Strada Verde, following the directions for the Casa Natale (birthplace/home) of Leonardo, in the small town of Anchiano. We recommend that you make a little detour to check out the artistic park of Acquaria, a little “hill country” of art and installations.
Continuing along the route, we’ll pass next to the Mulino della Doccia, mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in the Atlantic Codex. Leonardo indeed remembers the “Mulino della Doccia di Vinci” alongside several observations related to the grinding techniques for the colors used in painting. A document from 1478, conserved in the Archivio di Stato of Florence, also attests that the management of another mill in the same area as the first one was handed over to Leonardo’s father and uncle (with an obligation to restructure it as well). The uncle saw guaranteed the rights to inherit its benefits. The remains of the structures of these mills are still visible.
Amid centuries-old olive groves and the traditional colors of the Tuscan countryside, we’ll walk through a part of the itinerary that’s suitable for children, until we arrive at Leonardo’s birthplace in Anchiano. Historic documents report that Ser Piero, Leonardo’s father, purchased the house in 1504, and that after his death, it was inherited by Leonardo’s half-brothers. Today the house is part of the Associazione Case della Memoria; inside there’s a permanent exhibition which includes reproductions of Leonardo’s designs and texts, a map of the Valdarno and multimedia installations.
Once the visit is over, we’ll get back on the Strada Verde and head in the direction of Vinci, back to the starting point.