Closed to the public for five centuries, Casa degli Atellani— in the heart of the Milan, Italy– has recently reopened to curious tourists. The estate houses plenty of treasures for fans of Italian history, art and culture. But it’s also home to an intriguing secret dating back to the Renaissance-era — a newly restored vineyard owned by Leonardo da Vinci.
When da Vinci left Florence for Milan in the late 15th century, he arrived with a cover letter that described him as a weapons maker and laid out in exquisite detail the various arms he could produce.
At the bottom of his résumé, he added a couple of lines: In times of peace, he wrote, he could paint and serve as an architect. The man who went on to paint the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper didn’t even bother to mention another skill: grape grower.
A little-known detail about Leonardo’s life and passions is that he owned a small vineyard that the duke of Milan gave to him for painting The Last Supper, says historian and author Jacopo Ghilardotti.
Today, half a millennium later, that vineyard has been restored to reproduce essentially the same grape the genius cultivated.