A forgotten story ties Leonardo da Vinci to the city of Milan: the story of a vineyard. In 1498, Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, gave Leonardo a vineyard. Surrounding this vineyard, there were always legends involving this genius, his works, and his followers. The vineyard that today has finally been reborn respects the land’s original rows and vines.
From Lorenzo the Magnificent’s Florence, Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan in 1482 at the court of Ludovico Maria Sforza, known as il Moro. In 1495 Ludovico assigned him the task of painting a Last Supper in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie. In 1498 Ludovico granted Leonardo ownership of a vineyard nearing 16 perches.
We can imagine Leonardo, at the end of a day's work, as he leaves the Cenacolo site and crosses the Borgo delle Grazie and the Atellani house to wander through the rows of his vineyard. But this would have lasted for just a little while: in April 1500, the French royal troops defeated and imprisoned the Moor, at which point even Leonardo left Milan.
Leonardo, however, never stopped taking care of his vineyard. He reconquered it when the French confiscated it, and, at his death in 1519, he quoted it in his will, leaving a part to his beloved pupil Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salaì.
On the grounds of the great vineyard of San Vittore, the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro dreamed of building a new residential district. Of that dream, more than five centuries later, only the Casa degli Atellani remains standing.
The Leonardo da Vinci vineyard was reborn with Milan’s Expo 2015, thanks to the Portaluppi Foundation and the current owners of the Atellani family. This project came to reality thanks also to the decisive contribution of the University of Milan and Professor Attilio Scienza, the top expert in the genetics of the grapevine today.