Leonardo da Vinci

The original "Renaissance man," a genius artist, inventor, and engineer

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)—born in a small town west of Florence called Vinci—was the original Renaissance Man, a brilliant painter, inventor, and natural philosopher who was always happier tinkering with new techniques and materials than finishing commissions.

This was was the guy who painted a delicate Annunciation so sweet it can reduce you to tears, was obsessed with the movement of running water (filling notebooks with his sketches of it), and in his spare time doodled plans for the forerunners of both helicopters and machine guns.

Sadly, lingering charges of sodomy eventually led Leonardo to leave Florence for the ducal court in Milan in 1482, leaving only a handful of early works in Florence (listed below).

The greatest fresco cycle that ever wasn't

Though Leonardo did return to Florence from 1503 to to 1506, the great work he was commissioned to paint at that time—a Battle of Anghiari scene along one long wall of the largest room in what is now the Palazzo Vecchio—was never finished.

Vasari tells us that the great artist, experimenting with using wax pigments in his fresco colors, accidentally destroyed that part he had finished when he lined the wall with braizers to speed the drying process and the fresco literally melted right off the wall.

(Even more depressing: none other than Michelangelo was simultaneously working on a companion battle scene that was fill the opposite wall of the room... but he, too, failed to finish before leaving to spend most of the rest of his artistic future in Rome, and the large sketches he left of the work in Florence were quickly ripped apart by souvenir-hunting art students.)

Tips & links

Works by Leonardo da Vinci in Florence
  • Uffizi ★★★ - Annunciation (1473/75); Baptism of Christ (1472/75, with Verrocchio); Adoration of the Magi (1481, unfinished)
Giotto tours
More info
How long does Florence take?

Planning your day: Florence would well be worth a week, but you can still fit a lot into just a day or three.

To help you get the most out of your limited time in the Cradle of the Renaissance, here are some perfect itineraries, whether you have one, two, or three days to spend in Florence.

» Florence itineraries

Florence tours

Share this page

Intrepid Travel 25% off

Search ReidsItaly.com

Train tix

Shortcuts to popular planning sections:

Airfares, Cars, Trains, Tours, Packages, Cruises, Lodging, Itineraries, Info, Packing, Prep, Comm

Follow ReidsItaly
Follow ReidsItaly on Twitter  Join the ReidsItaly fan page  Follow Reids Italy Adventures blog