Today was another amazing day in Italy! Our morning was spent at the Leonardo Da Vinci museum, and it was a mind blowing experience. Before this trip, I thought that I knew all there was to know about Leonardo. He was a famous painter most commonly known for The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. However, I was horribly mistaken. Actually, his last name is not even Da Vinci. It just means that he’s from Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci was a true Renaissance engineer and architect who just happened to have a special interest in painting.
Leonardo Da Vinci moved to Milan after he was contracted as a military engineer. His focus was on the technical aspects of his inventions, so when he sketched them, he used the exploded method in which all parts were drawn separately. While this method effectively describes all aspects of the invention, it forces the idea to be drawn on multiple pages. When Leonardo died, he left these transcripts to two of his most trusted friends. However, these friends were anything but trustworthy. Instead of preserving the drawings, they mistreated them, and half were lost. As a result, we do not have the complete collection of Leonardo’s inventions and are forced to guess about his ideas.
One of his major projects was flying. As seen in the photograph below, he imagined a flying machine that looked like wings. However, he abandoned the project when the French invaded Milan and kidnapped the Duke. The Duke of Milan was financing Leonardo’s projects, so without money, he was forced to stop.
During Leonardo’s time in Milan, a plague hit the city. As an architect, he made a model of the “ideal” city in an effort to comeback the sickness. Milan had major hygiene problems at the time. They had open air sewages that easily spread disease. Therefore, Leonardo imagined a city with many canals. He also wanted to put the noblemen at the top of the city and everyone else on the lower end. The lower end is where the stables would be. Curiously enough, one of the stables that Leonardo modeled (as seen in the photo below) was actually built and still exists in Milan.
After touring the museum, I was amazed that one man could be responsible for such beautiful art and creative inventions. Leonardo was truly a master of all trades. Also, he is a perfect example of someone who did not stick to one profession for his entire life. Leonardo did what interested him at the time and became very good at it. We can learn from his example and pursue the passions that interest us.
At the conclusion of the tour, we met students at a local university for lunch and for apertivo in the evening. At apertivo, a student asked me about the political climate in America. He followed the election and was wondering what it is like to live in a country that is going through such change. Mostly, he was interested in our health care. In Italy, health care is free for citizens, so he did not understand our system. After I explained it to him, I asked about how he thought Brexit would effect his life, if at all. I learned that Brexit will actually have a huge impact on Italians, especially the students.
Currently, Italy’s economy is one of the lowest in the European Union. As a result, some students move to Great Britain for job opportunities after graduation. However, when Brexit takes effect, this movement will be difficult. Italians will have to deal with a new currency and will have more laws as immigrants to the country. Right now, passports and identification are not needed to move between countries in the Union. It is a lot like moving between states.
I found this conversation especially interesting because I do not know much about Italian politics. I enjoyed discussing the topic with someone currently experiencing these changes in his life as opposed to simply reading a news article. What I learned is that Italian politics are central to culture and day to day life of the people here as many students were eager to discuss it with us. Also, it is a more open environment. In America, it is taboo to talk about politics with acquaintances. However, in Italy, it is a normal topic of conversation.
Like the previous days, we walked a lot and made many memories. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us. Ciao!