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Leonardo’s engineering skill: an enormous wooden water wheel, thirty-six feet in diameter. In contrast to similar constructions of its time, it wasn’t used to grind grain or to drive machines. The wheel scooped water up from the river into an irrigation system so that the surrounding farmland could be cultivated and the kitchen of the bishop’s palace would receive fresh water. The wheel itself is a replica; the irrigation system no longer exists. And though at least one organization in Groppello has rammed a few faded plaques into the ground next to the river, this work of Da Vinci’s, too, is not exactly a blockbuster. The inhabitants pay no attention to their waterwheel. There are no tourists here either. In Florence, we visit Da Vinci’s artworks in the Uffizi. Some of his works are currently being restored; only two of his paintings are on display: “Annunciation” and “The Baptism of Christ”, which Da Vinci produced with his master Andrea del Verrocchio. Thanks to our stops at the lock and the water wheel, we can look more closely and see... water. In the first painting a river and a harbor can be made out in the background. In the “Baptism of Christ”, the Jordan River flows directly between John the Baptist and Jesus. Water is being poured on Christ’s head. You can see the feet of the men through the water’s surface, and small eddies have formed around their ankles. In the background is a waterfall. For Leonardo, knowledge and beauty were inevitably connected. We continue onward to Vinci, a town of 15,000 inhabitants between Florence and Lucca. Once a strategic military base, Vinci today subsists exclusively on the name of its famous son, even though Leonardo, if we’re being honest, comes from the neighboring town of Anchiano. In the Castello dei Conti Guidi there is a museum in which Da Vinci’s most important designs have been reproduced: The famous wings hang from the ceiling, his somewhat eerie diving equipment can be seen in a showcase. In addition, there are numerous practical inventions such as a pulley block, a ball bearing, a press for olive oil, a wheeling machine for metals as well as exhibits on his research on optics, air and water. This brings technology-minded retirees in particular out of the woodwork, who then also turn to the Mercedes- AMG S 63 4MATIC+: “That’s quite some ride you have there.” In the meantime we’re already looking forward to the journey back home, but we keep that to ourselves. Did you know that ...? Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed and wrote all his manuscripts back to front. However, he could also draw with his right hand. Da Vinci’s fingerprints have been discovered on some of the canvases of his artwork. They are best seen in “The Baptism of Christ”, where they are visible on the body of Jesus Christ. The author Dan Brown sold more than 80 million copies of his novel The Da Vinci Code, propelling him to global fame. Previously, he had written romantic self-help books together with his wife under the pseudonym Danielle Brown. Da Vinci was a vegetarian. He was the first person who could correctly explain why the sky is blue. Da Vinci was the first person to hit upon the idea of how contact lenses could work. Leonardo DiCaprio’s mother gave her son that name because she felt him for the first time in her womb while looking at a Da Vinci painting. Da Vinci bought caged birds in order to set them free. 153


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