Leonardo da Vinci Milan Italy AdobeStock iphotographer62

Why Leonardo da Vinci is inspiring more travellers to head to Milan

Italy will be marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci in 2019 with a cultural programme that will share his inspirational works with travellers from around the globe, and at a time where his universal themes are perhaps more important than ever before.

This monumental centenary will see nine months of celebrations embodying events, new museum exhibitions and specialised tours dedicated to the word-renowned historical figure’s eclectic genius running from May 2019 through to January 2020 in Milan, a fitting city hub that played host to Leonardo in his later years. The deputy mayor for Culture of the Municipality of Milan, Filippo Del Corno, said: “Of all the cities Leonardo Da Vinci lived in he spent more time in Milan than any other − almost 20 years in two different periods. Leonardo left strong traces, which are very visible in the city; engineering, architecture, art, town planning, natural senses, there is no area of human learning that was left untouched by the inquisitive and immensely talented Leonardo who over time became the truest embodiment of the concept of the Renaissance man and the Renaissance artist. Our city, therefore, is getting ready to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his death with a calendar that will showcase the work he carried out in multiple areas, evoke the land that Leonardo knew, shine the light on the traces of his presence, and honour his genius with contemporary critique.”

The ‘Milano and Leonardo’ programme will be carried out by the Coordinating Committee ‘Milan and the legacy of Leonardo 1519-2019’ − set up by the Milan City Hall, the Region of Lombardy and the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Tourism – and will officially start on May 2 with the reopening of Castello Sforzesco’s Sala delle Asse. Following a long period of restoration, the hall will reopen to showcase the preparatory sketches of roots, trunks, landscapes, branches and leaves, designed to change the perception of the room. Through a multimedia installation, visitors will be guided to an appreciation of the whole original space, shifting the attention from the vault (to be restored in 2020) to the walls and will discover how Leonardo developed his imitation of nature to play with perspective, so much as to imagine undergrowth, houses and hills on the horizon, beyond the trees: from the room of Duke Sforza (to whom Leonardo served from 1482) to the outside, to the territory he ruled.

The halls of Castello Sforzesco will also be home to two other Leonardo-dedicated projects: the exhibition ‘Leonardo and the Sala delle Asse between Nature, Art and Science’ scheduled from May 16 to August 18; and a multimedia path, set up in the Sala delle Armi from May 2 to January 2, 2020, to transport visitors to Leonardo's Milan, leading them on a discovery of the city as it would have appeared in his eyes during his Milanese stays. The itinerary will include a geo-referenced visual mapping of what is still preserved in those places, both in the city and within museums, churches and buildings of the territory so that visitors can follow in the footsteps of Leonardo, upon their departure from Sforza Castle. 

With many more works and exhibitions planned, agents can expect to see an increase of interest from clients in line with the rising trend for travel to the region as seen by the city, with figures recording a 10.2% increase in visitors in 2017 compared to the previous year. 

Marking the beginning of Leonardo da Vinci celebrations at a special event held at London’s National Gallery, the Italian Ambassador to the UK, Raffaele Trombetta, said: “Though we are celebrating 500 years of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, in spite of the time that has passed, he is still inspiring all of us. I do believe that Leonardo da Vinci typifies the Italian standard of excellence; the relentless pursuit of beauty and perfection, and that you can only achieve this through knowledge in all fields of human endeavours. That is something that has not been lost in the centuries and is still one of the main features of the Italian people − that's the reason why Italians are appreciated and welcomed all over the world and it’s also the reason why the Italians are so open, so willing to share and spread the know-how they have acquired. It's one of the lessons, one of the many, that come from Leonardo da Vinci and that's the universal value of culture. 

“The value of culture is all the more important in the times that we are going through and it’s important in the relationship between our two countries. We do need to find a framework and new bridge between our two countries, and nothing more than culture can build and consolidate the relationship we already have. For these reasons as an embassy, together with all the other Italian institutions in the UK, we have prepared a vast programme of events celebrating the 500 years of Leonardo da Vinci, with more than 50 initiatives all of them inspired by his genius, and we hope an inspiration for all who visit us.”

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