France and Italy celebrate the Great Genius of Leonardo (15 April 1402 – 2 May 1519) in his five hundredth.

by Maria Teresa Prestigiacomo
Photos provided by Maria Teresa Prestigiacomo

Amboise, a clear blue sky and a warm spring welcome us in the medieval town that rises around the most famous castles of the Loire; a trip around the castle that for three years, until his death, hosted Leonardo Da Vinci is a must. In this pleasant place, among the chateaux of the Loire, silence, art and legendary Renaissance atmospheres involve us. The manor of Clos Lucé is another world, in which Leonardo, disappointed by Italian politics and his potential clients, took refuge, after a long journey from Italy, crossing the Alps, on the back of a mule, in the companion of some of his disciples including Francesco Melzi and Batista de Villanis, one of his Milanese servants. Leonardo was invited by King Francesco I in 1516 and concluded there, after three years of stay, in 1519, his existence as a scientist, inventor, painter, architect, hydraulic engineer, in this luxury atelier not far from the walls fortified of the imposing and haughty Castle of Amboise. In the small town, adorned, on a narrow street, with a secret passage (between two small buildings) surmounted by a clock, here, as in the houses of Hans and Gretel, reigns a fragrance of honey and chocolate that spreads among the shops of charming town; in this magical place we imagine him while he inventing, in support of man’s work, strange machines, between waters and skies, machines visible in the lower part of the Castle of Cloux. Amboise is preparing to celebrate his genius, as well as Paris and Italy. Emilia Gatto and the Ambassador announce a great celebration for the 500th anniversary of the death of the Mona Lisa scientist and portraitist. In the Castle of Cloux, everything speaks about Leonardo in the silence: his drawings, his canvases, his studio, his fireplace, his desk, his manuscripts speak so much of a story of love and passion with a happy ending, that everything seems to come alive with life. A three-dimensional video gives us vibrant emotions: a phantom Leonardo makes himself visible to us, participating in his profound dialogue with Francesco Primo, the client who decreed the fortune of that talented Italian who felt himself poorly understood by Italy and pushed into France to challenge himself, in advanced age, trusting in a will that would give wings to his dreams as well as his machines. In Italy we point out (until 30 June 2019), in the Crypt of San Sepolcro in Milan, the Leonardo & Warhol initiative in Milan. The genius experience, an exhibition that will guide the visitor through lived Milan, designed and imagined by Leonardo da Vinci to lead him to the vision of Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper. The itinerary will close in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a place to which Leonardo was very close and that in a map of the Codex Atlanticus, indicated as the true center of Milan. Since October, the exhibition The Leicester Code by Leonardo da Vinci has been inaugurated in the Uffizi Magliabechiana Hall. The Water Microscope of Nature, which reported in Italy, for the second time after the 1982 exhibition, the precious manuscript when it was still called the Hammer Code. The Museo di Galileo di Firenze has a rich program of events on its calendar. The town of Leonardo, Vinci, could not be missing from the celebrations. Leonardo da Vinci alle origini del genio, the exhibition will be held here from 15 April to 15 October 2019, is centered on the bond of Leonardo with his hometown and on the suggestions that the land of origin offered to his journey as an artist, technologist and scientist.

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