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The Leonardo Trail



Leonardo da Vinci spent much of his life in Milan and Lombardy. He first arrived in 1482 at the age of 30 to enter the court of Ludovico il Moro as an engineer to build defensive fortifications and war machines and as he said himself: “(…)In time of peace I believe I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in architecture and in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another. Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, and also painting, in which my work will stand comparison with that of anyone else whoever he may be.” He remained at the Court of the Sforzas until 1499, when the French took possession of the Duchy of Milan, and the first place he stayed when he left was Vaprio d’Adda where he was a guest at Villa Melzi. He then returned to Milan, summoned by the Duke d’Amboise, and stayed there from 1508 to 1513, to then return to Florence and travel to France, to Amboise, where he died in 1519.

Atlantic Codex, the largest codex which is kept in Milan in the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana. And it is to his genius that we owe the mitre gates for canal locks known as da Vinci gates which he drew (Codiex Atlanticus f. 656a r, Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana) for the Martesana which finally entered Milan in the final years of the 16th century and fulfilled the dream of the Sforzas to join the waters of the Adda with the Ticino. Da Vinci gates are still in use on canals all over the world.

Navigli Lombardi is working to reconstruct a Leonardo Trail in the area of the Navigli System, to rekindle a love of history and art but also to draw attention to the ingenious inventions scattered all over the canal system and surrounding areas where Leonardo lived and worked. The stretch of trail proposed in summer 2013 only covers some Leonardo sites in Milan and along a stretch of the Naviglio Martesana, but in 2014 the full trail will be ready and can be completed by boat on the Navigli and on cycle paths.

The first part of the Leonardo Trails (22/06/2013 – 29/06/2013 – 06/07/2013) was created with the collaboration of PADIGLIONE ITALIA Expo 2015, Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the regional authority Regione Lombardia, the municipal administrations Comune di Milano, Comune di Vaprio d’Adda and the reserve Parco Adda Nord with its Leonardo Ecomuseum.