“Il Sentiero di Leonardo” (the trail of Leonardo da Vinci) is a new amazing historical path from Milan (north Italy) to San Bernardino (Switzerland). The itinerary retraces the places where Leonardo da Vinci did his works and studies when he lived in the Ducato of Milan. Probably the most productive period of his longstanding straordinary carreer.

A 240 km path to retrace the life of Leonardo

The route goes from Milan to San Bernardino (Switzerland) and has a length of 240 km. The itinerary has several points of interest, well illustrated in the italian book “Il Sentiero di Leonardo. 240 km da Milano a San Bernardino. Luoghi, temi, percorsi, ospitalità” written by Renato Ornaghi, one of the ideator of the path.

The cover of the book "Il sentiero di Leonardo" by Renato Ornaghi
The cover of the book “Il sentiero di Leonardo” by Renato Ornaghi

The route has also a return, that goes from Saint Bernardino to Milan, passing by Lugano (Switzerland), Varese and Pavia creating a ring circuit with a total length of 520 km.

map of the whole itinerary on the trail of Leonardo da Vinci
Map of the whole circuit, from Milan to Saint Bernardino, Switzerland

The route is reach of natural beauties, but also engineering, architectural, artistic and historical attractions. One of the characteristics of the path is that there are very often lakes, rivers and streams flowing nearby. Water was in fact one of Leonardo’s favorite case of study. During his stay in this area of north Italy he studied aslo fluid dynamics. He projected great works for the community, often too advanced for that time. Some of them have been completed only centuries after.

traghetto in legno ideato da Leonardo
Da Vinci’s ferry boat is still used today, located on Adda river, via Wikimedia Commons

The itinerary “The Leonardo’s Path”  has been inaugurated this year, to celebrate the 500 year from the death of Leonardo, in 1509. At the same time, lots of museums and artwork all over the world are celebrating the Italian genius. Walking along the Leonardo’s route you can really discover the life of Leonardo Da Vinci and his incredible works of arts. You can discover the genius taking his own steps.

Leonardo Da Vinci, a universal genius

Leonardo Da Vinci, a universal genius
The Vitruvian Man, original drawing

What about the character, who doesn’t know him? An Italian artist and scientist regarded as “Universal Genius“. Whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. Maybe you knew him only for the “Monna Lisa”, “The Last Supper” or his flying machines but he did a whole lot of other things.

A long chapter of Leonardo’s  working life was when he spent in the service of Ludivico il Moro, in Milan. Travelling around the Alps, rivers and lakes. There he found inspiration from water flows and the flight of birds. Perhaps most of the backgrounds in his paintings were inspired by this landscapes.

The Leonardo’s route: first stage from Milan to Lecco

Starting from the city of Milan, in Italy, you can see a lot of works of Leonardo. Here are only a few examples to give you an idea of what you can find along the Leonardo’s path.

The Leonardo's route: first stage from Milan to Lecco
itinerary from Milan to Lecco on Sentiero di Leonardo, photo via googlemap

In Milan you can see the Leonardo’s horse, the Cenacolo (place of  The Last Supper), Leonardo’s Vineyard, Leonardo’s monument in Piazza Scala, as well as the museums like Museo della Scienza e della Tecinca, Leonardo3 and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

Continuing with the path along the channel naviglio della Martesana, you reach the small towns of Gorgonzola and Trezzo sull’Adda. On the channel you can see the sluices that were invented by Leonardo. Here you take the cycle path that runs along Adda river.  As you arrive at Imbersago, there are the rapids that da Vinci wanted to make navigable.

We proceed towards Lecco, where you can admire the landscape that was choosen as the background for the Mona Lisa, with Azzone Visconti bridge.

These are only the first 4 stages of the route, that counts a total of 26 stages. 12 to reach San Bernardino and 14 on the return to Milan.

If you want more info: here is the link to the official website, with every stage explained and here the map with Gps track, but unfurtunately there isn’t yet an english version of the website.

5 reasons to try the Sentiero di Leonardo

  1. The route can be made by bike or e-bike. In fact all the circuit runs on bicycle paths or ancient roads.
  2. The path is surrounded by nature. It crosses parks and protected areas such as the one in Lake Como which is known for the many birds species. As we said birds were carefully observed by Leonardo, who dreamed to give wings to man. As evidenced by his inventions.
  3. The itinerary is focused on discovering the the footprints left by Leonardo da Vinci, respecting the local identities of places.
  4. The Leonardo’s route supports local communities and has been realized in collaboration with them. Moreover Lombardy region provides a free passport for visitors, whith which you can ask for the official stamp in every stage of the route. Here you can find more info about it.
  5. You can choose your green trip. How? By moving by bike instead of car, eating in local restaurants and booking eco-friendly accomodations.

Take your time, enjoy the unexpected, on the trail of Leonardo da Vinci!

Author: Matteo Sartor

Hi! I'm Matteo, I'm 21 and I'm studying Business Managment in Trento. I love to travel and to immerse myself in the culture of the places I visit. So I think that something is lost when local traditions are marketed and environment is contaminated by tourism. This is why I believe in sustainble tourism and cultural sustainability.
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