Day 12 (Mon, May 14): Concert in a Tuscan Villa, Vinci, Leonardo Museum
The interior develops around an oval reception room, which has two spiral staircases that lead to the upper floors. The painted decor on the ground floor includes a portrayal of Aurora and Apollo on the Sun Cart on the ceiling, while the sprandels contain allegories of signs of the zodiac as well as architectural and plant motifs. The resulting space is dominated by the impression of an internal environment opening towards a landscape outside.
The garden contains a Chapel consecrated to Sts. Simon and Judah, who are portrayed in the painted decorations within, and again repeated in the decorative motifs inside the nearby villa. The extensive grounds synthesise a perfect balance between the intervention of man and nature.
In the first floor Sala degli Affreschi, we enjoyed a lecture on Franz Liszt by Clive Britton, about Liszt's "Italian Years". Britton, a student of Claudio Arrau, played several pieces from Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage, particularly from the 2nd volume: Lo Sposalizio, Il Penieroso, Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa, Sonetto 104 del Petrarca and from the 3rd volume, Les jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este.
We spent some time enjoying the grounds, which included a deep (4 m) pool with water lilies and gold fish.
After the lecture-concert we had a marvelous lunch in the ground floor Sala Clemente IX. Delicious focaccia, lasagne and penne with a carrot-and-green-bean sauce, roast pork and scalloped potatoes and three desserts: Gelato with strawberry sauce, fruit custard tort and a very rich chocolate-cream-coffee thingie.
On our way to Vinci we stopped at Santa Barbara, an agriturismo owned by Roberto, one of our waiters at the Villa, and his wife Stefania. We were given vinsanto (alla "vecchia maniera") and biscotti. Delicious. The place is lovely. Also took advantage of the opportunity to photograph "the three graces", Sabrina, Christine and Annie Ortengren (from Trinity's home office, whom we met during our 2005 Elderhostel trip to Padova).
We went on to Vinci, near where Leonardo was born. It's a beautiful little hill town, where we explored a museum filled with models of many of the ideas from Leonardo's notebooks. Unfortunately, as with many other museums and churches, no cameras were allowed. The website maintained by friends of the museum doesn't do it justice; the one in Milano has a much better online display of his inventions.
Beginning of the end of our time here -- schedules for departure announced (4:30 am for Sabrina's group, i.e., us), when to pay our bar bill, when to put out our suitcases, etc.
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