The patron and the genius: in the footsteps of Ludovico il Moro and Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan for the first time between the spring and summer of 1482. It was a revolution for the Lombard culture. Shades, light, the gestures of Leonardo’s painting imbued the Milanese artists, the engineering projects conquered Ludovico il Moro and the theatre settings entertains the court. A walk to commemorate the cultural vibrancy of Leonardo’s Milan and the relations maintained by the greatest genius with the court and with the Milanese artists.

The patron and the genius: in the footsteps of Ludovico il Moro and Leonardo

1. The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology. A walk in science

   Via San Vittore, 21

The story of the greatest Italian genius starts from the largest national museum dedicated to science and technology.

Inaugurated on February 15, 1953, on the occasion of the celebrations for the fifth centenary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, it celebrates the work as a scientist and engineer with a rich collection of the machine models designed by the illustrious master, reconstructed from his own drawings. The exhibition moves on to astronomy and robotics, as well as to the Toti submarine.

2. The vineyard, wine and Leonardo

 Corso Magenta, 65

A picturesque garden that hides a five hundred year-secret, with a double connection to Leonardo's life.

Many know the house of Atellani and its connection with the great master from Vinci. Few people know that Leonardo's vineyard, so dear to him, was preserved intact behind the façade of the famous palace after centuries up to ninety years ago, to the point that it was mentioned in his will and bequeathed to Salaino and Giovan Battista de’ Vilanis. There are some photographs, taken by Luca Beltrami in the month of January 1920, shortly before they were removed forever to make way for some small villas thanks to which we can at least imagine what the cherished arbor, under which Leonardo loved to walk, looked like.

3. The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie - An unsolved architectural case

    Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2

Discovering a fine example of Fifteenth-century architecture, miraculously rebuilt after the bombings of 1943.

In 1463, Francesco Sforza commissioned to Giuniforte Solari the building of the church on the site where a small chapel dedicated to Holy Mary of Grace once stood. In 1490, Ludovico il Moro decide to turn it into a great Ducal Mausoleum. This was the beginning of an interesting case of the art of Milan: who is the architect of the lantern? Bramante or Amadeo? The mystery is still unsolved.

4. The Last Supper, or the complexity of painting

Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2

Face to face with the work of art par excellence. A painting admired beyond time and space. From Goethe to Japanese tourists!

Commissioned by Ludovico il Moro and built between 1495 and 1497, the Last Supper occupied the master for three years of hard work and afterthoughts.

Not just a work of art, but a work of man and of all his knowledge. Wisdom and experience are indeed the basis of this masterpiece. An inseparable twin aspect for Leonardo, for whom “The motive power is the cause of all lives”, the principle based on which his greatest masterpiece was shaped. Do not be seduced by the clichés and the reckless critical readings of which he has been the protagonist in recent years. The last word is only for the “motions of the soul” of the Last Supper! Seeing is believing.

5. Church of San Maurizio, the former Monastero Maggiore - The Sistine Chapel in Milan

    Corso Magenta, at the corner of Via Luini

A Lombard refined, elegant, classic painting casket. So sublime that it can compete with the Sistine Chapel.

Along with the cloister, the church survives as the only witness of the oldest Benedictine female monastery of Milan. Founded by the Lombards, it was rebuilt starting from the year 1503 with a project by Gian Giacomo Dolcebuono and Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. Completed by Cristoforo Solari, it stands out for the magnificent frescoes that are kept inside. A Milanese painting test of the Sixteenth century, where the classicism of Bernardino Luini, one of the best interpreters of Leonardo’s legacy, stands out.

6. Castello Sforzesco: the rebuilding of the Sforza Castle, from a fortress to a mansion

    Piazza Castello

    A walk to the Sforzesco Castle to discover a weave of architectural choices and dynastic vicissitudes.

The transition from the Visconti to the Sforza dynasty, in the mid-Fifteenth century, marked a turning point in the art of the Lombardy region that opened to the central Italy influences. The castle was rebuilt according to gentler forms and open to the city. Filarete designed the entrance tower, while the round towers were made by the military architect Bartolomeo Gadio.

7. Sforzesco Castle: The courtyard of the Rocchetta, the refuge of the Sforza

    Piazza Castello

A walk to find out where Ludovico il Moro could take refuge in case of a siege.

The defensive core of the castle looks like a four-sided portico placed in the castle’s western summit. The three wings, with arcades punctuated by the favourite emblems of Ludovico il Moro, were made by three different architects protagonists of the Milan of the Sforza: Filarete, Benedetto Ferrini and Bramante, who completed the work in 1495.

8. Sforzesco Castle: Sala delle Asse and Leonardo, the court painter

    Piazza Castello

    An invitation to court ... to discover the reception room of Ludovico il Moro.

The hall, which takes its name from the wooden planks that used to decorate the lower part of the walls, was used for receptions by Ludovico il Moro's court. Leonardo da Vinci transformed it into an arbor, by painting plant elements, weavings of trees and heraldic motifs, culminating with the vault’s glimpse of blue sky. In the castle, in addition to the Asse hall, it seems that Leonardo also worked in the “ponticella", designed by Bramante and shaped like an airy arcaded loggia, located on the north eastearn side of the castle that used to connect the private rooms of the Duke with a garden of rare beauty. Unfortunately, nothing remains of his interventions, if ever there were.

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