Vinci is a small Tuscany village where Leonardo da Vinci was born

Photo of Vinci (Tuscany region)

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The small village of Vinci, in the rolling landscape of vineyards and olive groves between Pistoia and Empoli in northern Tuscany, might go unremarked among many similar villages in the region if it was not for its unique claim to fame: Leonardo da Vinci was born here in 1452 and lived here until 1469 when he left for Florence.

You can now see his birthplace and a museum dedicated to his ideas in and near the village, and absorb the atmosphere that influenced one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

Exploring Vinci in Tuscany

The village of Vinci itself would be pleasant to stroll around even if it were not for the association with Leonardo da Vinci - but it certainly would attract substantially less visitors! The village is something of a 'pilgrimage' destination for da Vinci enthusiasts from all around the world and can get very busy.

Aerial view across Vinci in Tuscany

The village actually copes very well with the visitors it receives and has been awared the Orange Flag award, granted to destinations where tourism is sensitive to the village and surroundings.

The principal attraction in Vinci itself is the 13th century castle which now holds the Museo Leonardino. Here you can see numerous recreations of da Vinci's inventions such a bicycle, a car, a helicopter, a parachute and a tank and the drawings that inspired the wooden models, along with various pulleys and gears and other contraptions.

Elsewhere in the town you can see various other 'Leonardo inspired artworks' and sculptures which enhance the village and make a visit more interesting. Among our favourites was a large sculpture of the famous sketch in which he shows a man with outstretched arms and legs (called 'Vitruvius Man'), and the large horse statue he had planned but never built.

You can also see the Church of Santa Croce in Vinci where Leonardo was said to have been baptised.

Leonardo was born as an illegitimate child after a liaison between Ser Piero, a Florentine notary and local small landowner, and a local maid.

centre of Vinci village in Tuscany

Leaving Leonardo behind for a moment - not always easy here - be sure to also explore the traditional village beyond the castle and museum. You will see a couple of attractive small churches in the romanesque style as you stroll along the picturesque narow alleys of the medieval village centre, and enjoy some lovely far-reaching views across the Tuscan countryside from various places in Vinci.

Anchiano: birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci

About two kilometres from Vinci at Anchiano you can see and visit the house where Leonardo was born on 15 April 1542. His birthplace has now been converted into a modern exhibition space that exlains his paintings, his life and inspiration through modern multi-media devices.

The most attractive way to get from Vinci to Anchiano is to walk along a picturesque trail through the olive trees and countryside called the Strada Verde, which takes about half an hour to walk.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Florence guide and the Tuscany guide.

See also:

Map of Vinci and places to visit

Places to visit near Vinci

Empoli

Empoli

In the quiet town of Empoli you can explore the medieval piazza and surrounding streets

Empoli guide

Artimino

Artimino

In the fortified village of Artimino you can see a lovely 11th century church and an important renaissance villa and etruscan museum

Artimino guide

San Miniato

San Miniato

Midway between Florence and Pisa, the hill town of San Miniato is a lovely place to break your journey and explore

San Miniato guide

Poggio a Caiano

Poggio a Caiano

At Poggio a Caiano you can visit the Medici Villa, first Renaissance style villa in Italy

Poggio a Caiano guide

Pistoia

Pistoia

Rather overlooked by visitors to Tuscany, Pistoia actually has an impressive cathedral in the historic town centre

Pistoia guide

Prato

Prato

Prato is the historic centre of textile production in Italy and has several historic monuments and museums of interest to visitors

Prato guide