Day 3: Leonardo Da Vinci – The Man of Many Talents

Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius. He was a man of many talents and interests – an artist, an engineer, and an architect with a passion for nature and anatomy.  There is no better word that can be used to describe the level of his diverse talents and enduring contributions to mankind.  I have always been aware of his contributions to the art world with renowned paintings such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. He had a few months to complete one of his projects with an unlimited budget, but took four years to complete it instead. I have seen his sketches of human anatomy being referenced in some of my recent text books – so it was nice to see this on our tour today. Our tour guide explained that the proportions of the Vitruvian Man drawings, indicate the width of a human’s arm span is equal to his height.  Though I have had some knowledge regarding his influences as an inventor, I never fully understood the scope of his diversified contributions to the world throughout the centuries.

Da Vinci’s legacy exists as a result of the enduring relevance of his work.  His curiosity, together with the detailed way in which he examined the most basic aspects of his surroundings, fed his multidisciplinary approach to creating new ways of approaching old problems.  After touring the “Leonardo Da Vinci” National Museum of Science and Technology I was particularly impressed by this Renaissance man’s innovative ideas and their ultimate impact on modern science, engineering, technology, and even business operations today.

His mechanical drawings continue to inspire modern inventors in many fields including engineering, sciences, and arts.

Our tour guide noted that many of his “exploded sketches”, or sketches of an idea broken down into individual parts, have gone missing or got lost over the years either from families not taking care of them or them being stolen. At times Da Vinci took other people’s ideas to try and construct, and he tried to improve old ideas.  Regarding civil engineering and architecture, he designed canals and bridges to improve the infrastructure of Milan. He also drew sketches of water turbines that were replicated as models in the museum. I found the vastness of his ideas to be impressive and was curious as to the percentage of success of his original designs.

Da Vinci’s fascination with flight was displayed with the replication of his hang glider design which hung above us on one of the floors. The construction appeared to be made of wood and some type of fabric woven into the wood dowels.  A leather strap would hold the rider’s body in place. There was a smaller model of an early flying machine that inspired the development of the modern helicopter.  It was interesting to see the primitive flying contraption he had created compared to the military planes and helicopters we saw later on the tour. Flying has become an efficient mechanism in the supply chain process when transporting or distributing goods in a global economy.  Although life was harder in Da Vinci’s time, the supply chain of the world’s products today is much more complex.

Given our focus on the fashion industry, I particularly noticed his design of a fully automated mechanical weaving loom which led to advancements in the way textiles were produced by improving weaving efficiency.  Further enhancements through the centuries eventually led to even faster means of making fabrics or larger quantities which ultimately contributed to greater production and distribution throughout the world.

Today, we had the pleasure of meeting students of the USCS “The Cattolica,” ate lunch with them, walked to a nearby church, enjoyed cannolis, explored a beautiful castle nearby, and had an Aperitivo (happy hour) later on in the day. I was excited to make some new Italian friends abroad.  During our time together we had conversations with the local students about history and politics. I was interested to learn that one of the students found European history to be “way more interesting” than any American history he has learned before.  Two students I talked to both found it interesting that we have to pay for health care in America because access to health care is free for everyone in Italy.  Once President Trump was brought up, they rolled their eyes indicating their dissatisfaction with our President and his policies and indicated that our situation was “ridiculous”.  Comparatively, Italy’s government is structured such that it is led by a President and a newly appointed Prime Minister Gentiloni Silveri.  Illegal immigration seems to be a current and difficult political issue for Italy as well.

We have an early start to our day tomorrow, so I am off to bed. I do not want to be tired for Como and our company visit to Mantero Spa.



|| Alaina All’Estero – “Alaina Abroad” ||



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