Leonardo da Vinci moved to Milan around 1482 and worked on several projects for Duke Ludovico Sforza, seen at the time as the ruler of Milan. In 1495, Sforza commissioned da Vincci to paint the “Last Supper” in the refectory of the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie. As a token of his appreciation, Sforza gifted Leonardo a small plot for a vineyard in 1498.
The area measured about 60 x 175 meters and was large enough for 16 rows of plants. Here, da Vinci retired in the evenings after working on the fresco. His family had been winemakers for generations, so da Vinci took great pride in his vineyard and valued the gift greatly. Owning a plot of land in the city also allowed him to claim Milanese citizenship; da Vinci lived just a few blocks from his garden.
After his death, the land was divided between two of da Vinci’s servants. The garden changed owners many times and was greatly damaged during the air raids of World War II. Luckily, the garden was restored thanks to a few old drawings and schemes discovered in Renaissance texts. Now, the same type of Malvasia di Candia grapes that da Vinci once cared for are grown in the garden. The area opened to the public in 2015.
The vineyard is accessible through the rooms of Casa degli Atellani, one of the few remaining buildings that still looks as it did during the Renaissance.