Discovering Leonardo da Vinci
Updated: Sep 25, 2018
Books inform our travel. And not just travel guides. Having just finished Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson I was reminded how reading about the history, geography, art, and biographies related to the destinations enriches the visit.
At over 500 pages, the book was a New York Times bestseller but I’ll admit, it took me two library renewals to get through the depths of detail. It may not be for everyone, but the effort is worth it to understand the faults as well as the genius of Leonardo. (He rarely finished anything he started; his immense curiosity distracted him.) His extraordinary curiosity led to scientific knowledge that, in some cases, would not be re-discovered until centuries later.
I had already admired da Vinci’s genius (who doesn’t!) and had visited the Clos Luce in Amboise three times. (Not very difficult when you live 20 minutes from Amboise and are a regular at the patisserie Le Bigot just up the street.
The basic story was that Francois I had convinced Leonardo to traverse the Alps on a donkey, bringing Mona Lisa with him. The well-educated Francois was eager to mine Leonardo's brain so he provided a mansion, a household stipend and a tunnel that ran between Leonardo's and his chateau in order to enjoy Leonardo's tutelage in science, engineering, and the arts.
I wish I'd read it before my last visit to Clos Luce. It’s more like a day’s travel unfortunately now. I would get so much more out of the glass cases showing off (what I thought) were just simple pages of a diary)