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Looking for the Genius
A trip to Vinci has always been the first, fundamental stop in the journey to discover Leonardo’s origins
The Places of Birth and Childhood 
Leonardo was born in Vinci, on April 15th 1452, the love child of notary Ser Piero da Vinci and of a girl named Caterina. It was Leonardo’s grandfather, Antonio da Vinci, to record the date of birth and baptism on the last page of his father’s register, after those of his own children. The House where Leonardo reportedly was born is in Anchiano, and is part of the itinerary of the Museo Leonardiano.
Leonardo’ baptism took place in the Santa Croce Church in Vinci, before 10 godfathers and godmathers. In this church, the 1400s baptismal font where Leonardo is thought to have been baptized is still preserved. 
From the 1458 Land Registry we learn that Leonardo spent his childhood in Vinci with his father’s family, which owned a house with a vegetable garden near the Castello dei Conti Guidi. The house can be spotted today in one of the first buildings, when one descends toward the lower part of the hamlet, on the left side of Via Roma. 
After Leonardo’s birth, Ser Piero married Albiera Amadori, the first of his four wives; while Caterina got married to furnace man called Accattabriga, and settled in the near San Pantaleo.

Nature, Master of Masters
In the 1400s, more than twenty watermills were active in Vinci, along with a weir which is still partly preserved, reachable through a short detour from the Green Road which connects the hamlet to Anchiano, a path probably walked by young Leonardo several times.
Along the Mill path, not far from Anchiano, it is easy to imagine how Leonardo’s curiosity toward the movements of water and toward observing nature in general sparked during his childhood in Vinci. His fascination with nature brought him, as an adult, to also study geology and fossils which, he writes, he saw in abundance in the Colligonzi area.

Back to the Origins
The influence of his homeland is clear when we observe Leonardo’s first known drawing, Landscape 8P, which evokes landscapes from this area. Leonardo dated the drawing on August 5th 1473, the day of Our Lady of the Snows. This religious feast was deeply felt in the 1400s and was celebrated in the small hamlet of Montevettolini, where a small oratory dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows still exists today. 
We know for sure that Leonardo was in Vinci, at the Castello dei Conti Guidi, on May 3rd 1478, at the signing of a contract that established him as a potential heir of his father Ser Piero and his uncle Francesco.
The rent concerned the Town Mill, located in the rooms below today’s Tourist Office, which the Da Vinci brothers were committing to restore. 
In the early 1500s, in a memo written while preparing for a trip, Leonardo writes that he wants to leave a blanket in Vinci, where he may have had a place to stay. And where, perhaps, he would have wanted to return, as it seems like from the great project, datable 1505-1507, for a water retention basin to build outside Vinci in the Serravalle area, through the construction of a dam at the limit of the technical possibilities of the time. The sheet that depicts a water wheel is dated around the same time, along with a sketch of the map of the Doccia Mill in Vinci. 
In those same years, Leonardo’s father Ser Piero and uncle Francesco had died, and the latter had left Leonardo his properties in Vinci. To obtain his inheritance, Leonardo had to go through a legal battle against his stepbrothers.