After waking up a few hours earlier than any of us ever really want to, the gang made our way down to the Da Vinci museum to learn a little about arguably one of the most influential humans in history. We saw a lot of different aspects of his creations from the inventions themselves to his ideas of the “perfect city”. One thing I found to be incredibly interesting, however, was his work with inventing and the history behind it.
We saw man exhibits like the drawing of the Vitruvian Man, but his contributions through his inventing were what I found most impressive. We saw two cases, for example, where he created plans for bridges that could he moved to the side to stop invaders or allow people to pass quicker. The size and the genius of these bridges were things that were way ahead of the time and yet Leonardo was able to plan it all in his head. One of the most incredible things about these bridges is that he knew that they didn’t have the technology or man power to move the the bridges on their own so he used the current of the river to help the process along.
Many of these designs were due to the reason Leonardo was in Milan. He realized very quickly that he wouldn’t be able to achieve all of his goals if he were to live in his home town of Vinci (hence “da Vinci”) forever so he reached out to the head of Milan asking for a position. He sold himself as an engineer and said that he would be able to produce military inventions for the state because Milan was often at war with its neighbors. This gave Leonardo all of the funding he needed to produce most of his designs and discoveries over the coming years. The bridges, for example, were very effective military technologies because they can either stop invaders after the states military passed over the bridge or they could allow the states military to move quickly over the water, either to attack the enemy or deploy to another location.
He also invented things like the flying machine or an automatic loom but, sadly, many of his papers and drawings were lost due to his untimely death and the lack of care for his work by some students he left it too. For example, as mentioned above Leonardo invented an automatic loom that would speed up the process of stringing thread by leaps and bounds. When his papers were found, there was an attempt made to complete the machine and see if it worked. Immediately the people in charge of this project ran into a big issue: they only had a side view. Leonardo would often take many pages and fill them with blown up images of each part of his designs in order to help the reader, and himself of course, better understand each part that went into the machine and what it did to make it all work. Disappointingly, only a single page of the loom plan was ever found so the model we saw in the museum today was simply an approximation of what they believed it would look like based off of the single drawing they had. The flying machine was also never fully finished because after France invaded Milan, Leonardo fled back to Vinci where he no longer had the resources to continue his research. The research he did completely, however, was extremely extensive. For example, the pages recovered regarding the flying machine were covered with notes showing which type of wood or which material for the wings was most efficient. This means that if he had the chance to actually complete his work on the machine he could have created a fully functional flying machine which would have revolutionized the Renaissance and all of the decades to follow.
After the trip to the museum we had the chance to meet some students from Cattolica University. It was so cool to meet students from another country who had also gone on travel abroad programs through their school because it gave us the chance to talk to these students and compare their experiences to ours. Today was definitely a packed day bit it was well worth it. The dinner of course was also fantastic so the streak of never finding a bad meal continues.