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The entrace of the house where Leonardo was born


He was the illegitimate son of the notary Ser Piero, who in that same year married Albiera Amadori, from an only moderately well to do Florentine family, considering that she had no dowry. His mother instead was a mysterious woman named Caterina, by legend a peasant girl or tavern servant, but according to a very recent hypothesis, an Oriental slave who could boast no rights and who in the next year was to marry Antonio di Piero Buti del Vacca, known as "Achattabriga", with whom she lived in the countryside around Vinci, at San Pantaleo. Leonardo was thus welcomed into his father's home, "in the village of Vinci".

Leonardo's birthplace

At Anchiano, in the vicinity of Vinci, set in an enchanting landscape, is the house that, with no precise historical proof, is indicated as the place where Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452. Decorated with what has been traditionally considered the stone coat of arms of the "Da Vinci" family, it was restored in 1952, demolishing the non-original exterior and interior additions. A further restoration, carried out in 1986, has attempted to give the exterior its original form of fifteenth-century Tuscan rural house. Inside the house is an iconographic and educational display based on the texts of Leonardo which also includes reproductions of some of his drawings depicting the Tuscan countryside and a map of the Valdarno.

Since the 13th century, the family name of Leonardo's ancestors had been Da Vinci. The most probable origin of the place name Vinci is that of the Vincio torrent that flows through the territory. It seems to be linked to the Latin term vincus, vinci, which is also the source of the name of the willow trees with their bending branches, abounding in this countryside, which were and are still today used to make baskets and to bind grapevines to their supports. The "Vincian knots", which were to become the emblem of Leonardo and his Academy, may have derived from this practice.

Knot design, with the words 'Academia Leonardi' broken up in six positions in the design, and the word 'Vici' in the centre Engraving. This piece is part of the online collection of The British Museum.

Life and Art of Leonardo da Vinci