Everyone knows the Leonardo da Vinci artist, engineer and inventor. Some know him as a winemaker, but very few know that - perhaps - he was also an innkeeper and cook in the company of his fraternal friend Sandro Botticelli. Leonardo was the son of Ser Piero, a notary whose particularly wealthy family boasted, among its many landed properties, vineyards on the slopes of Montalbano. Here, grandfather Antonio and uncle Francesco produced several barrels of red wine for family consumption.

Leonardo Da Vinci: the winemaker

The story of Leonardo the winegrower is too often forgotten and seals his bond with the city of Milan. However, even before that, Leonardo had already experienced country life in his childhood and was deeply fascinated by it.

Leonardo's vineyard

In 1482, from the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Leonardo arrived in Milan at the court of the Sforza family where was not only a brilliant artist and engineer, but also a kind of grand master of ceremonies for Ludovico il Moro. It was not easy to win the duke's affection, but Leonardo succeeded to the point of having a vineyard of about one hectare at the end of the garden of the Casa degli Atellani on the edge of Porta Vercellina in Milan given to him in October 1498. Certainly part of the credit goes to the Last Supper, completed in the same year: a true masterpiece - now a UNESCO heritage site - in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie that had made Leonardo one of Ludovico il Moro's most trusted men. In 1500 he was forced to leave Milan, but his beloved vineyard also found a place in his will, written on his deathbed in 1519.

Leonardo Da Vinci writing

After the 2015 Expo, a team of experts unearthed the planting of this vineyard and thanks to a DNA study they found the vine cultivated in it: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica. The Malvasia di Candia Aromatica has an intense organoleptic quality and is dried on the vine. It produces wines of a deep straw-yellow colour with more or less pronounced golden reflections, apricot and aromatic herb aromas that, depending on maturation and vinification, decline into a broad bouquet of pastry notes. It also has a good alcohol content balanced by freshness and savouriness.

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Leonardo Da Vinci: perhaps he was also an innkeeper?

Leonardo da Vinci was a great glutton and connoisseur of food and wine. It seems that with Botticelli, whom he had met in Verrocchio's workshop, he loved to discuss various fermentations and unusual food and wine pairings. Not only that: these two incredible artists had such an intense passion for cooking that - between fact and legend -  thought of running the Osteria Tre Rane in zone Ponte Vecchio, unfortunately a failure. According to some theories, Leonardo had reinvented himself as a cook and interpreted traditional dishes with the flair of the novelle cousine: he served small portions presented with maniacal care. The most curious thing was the menu, written from right to left by Leonardo himself and made barely comprehensible by Botticelli's splendid drawings: they would thus have invented the ancestor of the modern photographic menu! This experience - only negative at first - was invaluable to him in Milan, when he had become not only the excellent court artist, but also the organiser of the best banquets for Ludovico il Moro. It was a pity that not even the duke liked to starve his guests, and to his anchovy roulade on a carved turnip in the shape of a frog or his frog's foot on dandelion leaf he preferred sausages made of pork brains from Bologna or pig's trotter from Modena!

Leonardo Da Vinci

Kitchen-related inventions

In those years, he invented napkins because, being the great animal activist that he was, he could not bear to see his hands dirty with clean food in the fur of pet dogs or in that of rabbits tied to tables. He also invented the three-pronged fork, the meat grinder, the left-handed corkscrew, the ham slicer: all designs that were at first mistaken as terrible war machines.

Noblewoman with rabbit under the table

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Leonardo Da Vinci innkeeper: fact or legend?

Only a transcription dated 1931 by a certain Pasquale Pisapia has come down to us of the gastronome Leonardo mentioned above, and the Hermitage, the famous St. Petersburg museum, denies being in possession of the original manuscript called Romanoff Code of which he speaks. The recipes, rules of hygiene, rules of etiquette and inventions reported seem truly attributable to Leonardo in style and inventiveness, and although there are no traces of this manuscript to authenticate the transcription, many clues lead many experts leonardians to assume that it is not just a legend.

Leonardo Da Vinci Codex Romanoff

"Et però credo che molto felicità sia agli homini che nascono dove si trovano i vini buoni."

Leonardo Da Vinci