Vinci is an unprepossessing small town at the foot of the Monte Albano. It has a small, walled medieval centre, with an unremarkable much restored Romanesque church, two gift shops, one selling Tuscan marbled paper and leather notebooks; the newer parts of the place are bland, though the cafés are nice enough; it has a large cantina on the outskirts selling DOP Montalbano Chianti, and that's about it. Nobody would take the time to come here except for the fact that as the name suggests, it is the birthplace of one of the most remarkable men who ever walked the earth.
What is nice about Vinci it has not become a Leonardo theme park to quite the extent that, for example, Assisi has disneyfied St. Francis. A large wooden model of Leonardo's Vitruvian Man graces the ramparts, and town's Castelo houses a small museum. The art installation outside of it is thought provoking and interesting, and a 'green' 3km. nature trail has been developed linking the town to the modest farmstead in the Albano Hills where the artist was born.
We took the car to his birthplace. It would have been good to do the walk, especially as it was a lovely day, but it was now late morning and lunch was competing with our Leonardo appreciation. In truth there is little to see. A villa near the birthplace has installed an 'impossible gallery' featuring computer generated images of Leonardo's most famous paintings. It's an interesting idea, and certainly looking at the background landscapes of pictures like the Virgin of the Rocks, with their mysterious rock formations and fantastical cascades, articulated by Leonardo using his famed sfumato technique, you sense in the penumbral gloom the sense of a unifying force in nature that lies at the heart of his genius. In a way I think this virtual collection misses a trick. It would have been so easy to provide the viewer with the facility to enhance the computer generated images to provide an approximation of what the pictures may have looked like when Leonardo painted them. To see the Last Supper restored to its original glory would be something indeed, and quite possible with today's imaging technology.