Milan, Italy: The Renaissance Atellani House And Leonardo Da Vinci's Vineyard

Just like any other Italian cities, Milan has a lot to offer. It’s home to the world’s oldest shopping mall – the “Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele”, the biggest and greatest example of Gothic architecture – the “Duomo Milano”, and Italy’s prestigious leading opera house– the “La Escala Theatre”. Milan is also home to the original Last Supper painting.

Talking about Milan’s history, it is also the home of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci or Leonardo Da Vinci who’s popular for his remarkable works such as “The Last Supper“, the controversial “Mona Lisa” which is one of the main attraction in the Louvre, Paris protected with bulletproof glass and many more.

Da Vinci was born in 15th of April 1452 and because of his iconic works of arts and inventions, he was known as the epitome of the Italian Rennaissance man and for me, having the chance to step inside his home in Milan Casa Degli Atellani – La Vigna Di Leonardo is truly memorable.

Stepping inside his home in Milan and seeing his original work of arts, in reality, its like time traveling in the Rennaissance world (1300 – 1700). It’s a must do when in Milan! especially if your a history and literature lover like me.

The Best Time To Visit Milan

For me, spring season from April to May and mid-September to October is the best time to travel in Milan. Aside from less-crowded season, it’s the budget-friendly time to travel too. Milan has also one of Italy’s cheapest airport, the Malpensa and Linate Airport.

Options To Experience Casa Degli Atellani

  • Milano Card: I highly recommend purchasing a Milano Card if you want to explore the City on your own. The picture below says it all.
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Availing the Milano card is easy. You can buy it either online or when you arrived at the airport. You can have a discount for purchasing the entrance ticket for almost every tourist attractions including La Vigna Leonardo’s entrance ticket.

  • La Vigna De Leonardo Website: There are options to explore Da Vinci’s House & Vineyard. The skip the line with last supper tour and self-tour with audio guide. I choose the 10€ self-tour as I already visited the famous last supper in 2016. I choose the time schedule 9 am and last for 30 minutes. The tour has seven stops assisted by audio-guides in 10 languages (Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese).

Casa Degli Atellani History

The home of Da Vinci while painting the Last Supper that took several years to complete.

Casa Degli Atellani is originally owned by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan who commissioned Da Vinci to paint The Last Supper in Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church, just next door to Leonardo’s Vineyard.

Like other historical sites, some part of the ancient house and vineyard was damaged and destroyed during the war.
In the video, you can see the house exterior with the ivy creeping up the walls.

Who were the Atellanis?
Long story short, Atellanis were a family of diplomats and courtiers originally from Basilicata, South of Italy who traveled in North in the 15th century and served Milan’s Duke, Ludovico Sforza, and family. Ludovico gave 2 courtyards houses to Atellanis and the Atellanis descendants lived here until the seventeenth century.

The livingroom Interior of Casa Atellani.

The Seven Parts Of The Tour

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The Rebuilt Of The House: In 1919, The two courtyard houses became one when the Architect Piero Portaluppison, son in law of the former Senator Ettore Conti and was trusted to transform the property as Senator’s new home. After knocking the walls that separate the 2 houses, he unveiled three walls of frescoes which probably painted in 1533 on the occasion of the marriage of Francesco Sforza II and Christina of Denmark.

Hall Of Zodiacs

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Obviously, the wall was named after the signs of the zodiac signs painted in the lunettes and in the other wall is the map of Italy which is dated as early as 1544 designed by Piero Portaluppi. Portaluppi was one of the important architects in Milan in the 12th century.

Hall Of Luini

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Another room of the house where a vaulted ceiling of lunettes completely frescoed and painted with some of the Sforza dynasty members. The Hall of Sforza Dynasty Portraits was a symbol of devotion by the Atellanis to the Duke’s family.

The Staircase Hall (Atellani Family)

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The staircase that was designed by Portaluppi leads to large halls on the first floor. On the walls are some of the Attelani’s relics such as the 18th-century plan of the house, the crucifixion and the fifteenth-century Lombard throne of grace.

Ettore Conti’s Studio

The houses had three different owners over four centuries. From Sforza Dynasty, the Atallani family and Ettore Conti.

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Ettore Conti was a senator, an engineer and the first real Italian magnate in the electricity industry. He was also known by his war memoir- “Dal taccuino di un borghese”-From the Notebook of a Gentleman, published in 1946.

The Garden

The garden was once a place of dinners and parties, a privileged centre of Milanese social life.

The garden had been a romantic English garden also when the landscape architect, Ercole Silva introduced English garden style to Italy in the early 19th century.

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La Vigna di Leonardo (Leonardo’s Vineyard)

The vineyard was given to Leonardo by Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan in 1498 and only accessible through Casa Degli Atellani. It has a rectangular plot that measures 60 by 175 meters.

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When Milan was invaded by the French troops and prisoned the Duke, Da Vinci was forced to leave Milan.

According to the audio guide, Leonardo comes from a family of winemakers that’s why the vineyard meant a lot to him and that he remained involved with it even after he left Milan.

For four centuries, the vineyard fell into obscurity but thanks to Portaluppi Foundation, Professor Attilio Scienza (grapevine DNA expert), traced the DNA of the grape variety grown by Leonardo at the bottom of Casa degli Atellani’s garden and now continuously growing!

Hope you enjoy reading this travel where history and art linked!

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