NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

SPECIAL NOTE: Photos are about 25% larger in this report than those in past reports.


Trip Log 13.  Day 13. Vinci in the Rain.

Monday October 25, 2010. Finding Leonardo's Roots

At 8 o'clock, it's raining hard and delivering a lightning show.

Several days ago, we signed up for breakfast here at the castle, and it's raining like crazy, so this'll be fun. We've decided a rainy day would be a great time to go to Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci (of Vinci), because we think most of it will be indoors. {I had read about this and that they have models of the inventons of da Vinci so thought it would be fun and a museum thaat the "guys" would like better.}

And I'm feeling quite a bit better, thanks to the Cipro kicking in for my inadvertent drinking from Lake Badwater.

But first, breakfast. The breakfast building is the first one you come to in the complex, upon entering from the main road. It is on the left, with the castle further in, on the right.

Here's what we enjoyed.

(L) Looking out one of the two half-windows. (R) The view out the same window, after opening.

(L) View of the breakfast table and food layout area from balcony. (R) Breakfast at the Bibbione. My head is distorted by the wide angle lens. Right? {That semicircular table you can see is actually in three parts. We are sitting at the middle part but you can see how they expand for larger groups. I wondered if they have the matching other half for really big groups to make a circular table?}

(L) How the window rotates open. (R) Photographer's reflection in the gold window handle.

(L) The wine cart. (R) Sharon inspects the art work on the stairs leading to the balcony. {You can't see it from these pictures, but these were framed hand-made papers with real dried flowers embedded in the paper. Very beautiful!}

(L) Castle corner view, through the other window. (R) The food layout area has a warmer underneath.

(L) View of the castle out the right-most window, now open. (R) Shirley and Jerry about to enter our building, following breakfast.{This castle, we were told, was the hunting "lodge" of Machiavelli, with the buildings renovated for people to stay in. You can go onto "Castle Bibbioni" website to see more about the castle in general. We loved it here and the feel of being in the Tuscany countryside, pretty much by ourselves.}

Two young castle dogs keep each other company, and look like they want to join us .{They came down one morning to our place to see what we were doing but they didn't claim us the way the cats "Georgio and Topo" did. Shirley's names for "our" cats that waited impatiently for us to feed them and would sneak into our place if we left the door open. Oh, Georgio, did you tear open the bag and eat Jerry's pizza? Bad cat!}

We hit the road about 11 am or so. On the way down the winding road, we are reminded that this switchback road and high speed don't mix. This poor guy didn't even leave skid marks before the hit.

It's about 12:30, and after asking some directions, we find ourselves near "the" Leonardo da Vinci Museum.  I say it that way because there are at least several such museums, the biggest one in Florence, as I recall. I slept most of the way here. Gettin' the strength back.

Parking is on the street, and we find a good spot, using the handicap placard, which seems to be honored here in Italy. I watch in fascination as I see several cars go up the hill shown below, with Shirley next to a barrier that should stop any car, and as people who own homes up on the hill approach it, this short metal column snaps down into the ground, then a few seconds after passage, it pops up again.

I fail to get Shirley to stand up on it, waiting for the roller-coaster-like drop. Oh well, nice try.

(L) Parked on the street in Vinci. (R) The correct control signal sends this pole straight down, flush with the pavement. Then after the vehicle passes, it pops back up.

Up, up, up we trudge (me anyway), and I can feel that the residual weakness from my bad water bout still has a powerful influence on my climb. Here are Shirley and Sharon, in the rain, and in front of one of the museum gift shops.

(L) Museum shop near the tower museum. (R) The museum tower.

I climb up the further steep grade hidden by the rock wall you see above, find the ticket office, and learn that the museum is divided into two parts. A new one, at the ticket office, and the older and larger one, in the tower next to the gift shop above. I hope they have elevators.

Again, I get us four free tickets to the museum, based on two handicaps and two accompanying persons.

Then, it's up some stairs, up some more stairs, past a wooden water wheel, and into the tower museum. Huff. Puff.

(L) Up the stairs, after I got our tickets. (R) Some sort of water wheel. {This is a model for Leonardo's idea for a paddle-wheel boat. Men inside turn a crank that turns the wheel to propel the boat. Many of the models here are the first time his inventions are constructed or tried from drawings he made. Some of his ideas were good but they didn't have the capability to make them or believe in them in his day.}

There is a great video on making the casting to pour metal into to make cannons, then shows different cannon designs, with straight barrels. With another model, you make fire, boil steam, drop steam into a chamber.  The boiling water drops down making steam to drive a projectile.  Next is a sort of Gatling cannon.  Then a tank that looks like a space ship, guns in all directions, can travel any direction.  Then a cannon that can shoot at different angles. A ladder you crank up and down to storm a castle, for example, looks like a sawfish.  “Look at that wormscrew”. says Sharon . Where is the wormscrew?, say I . In the ladder that goes up and down.

A bridge canal with sluice gate, allows a boat to navigate a bridge over a river, using locks. I begin to think, "Did Leonardo invent a piece of everything?"

There are lots more of his inventions, but without photos (not allowed), it doesn't make much sense to describe them. After the first floor, you take stairs or an elevator to the second floor. There is a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside from this high in the tower.

(L) Surrounding countryside. (R) Rooftop view from the second floor of the museum. {Shirley, master quilter, wants to make a "picture or landscape" quilt of the Tuscan countryside when she gets home and this picture is one of many she might use for the design.}

(L) Shirley setting their camera. (R) Sharon waiting for a warm fire.

(L) 3D ceramic artwork. (R) Backyard of a home next to the museum, up on the hill.

Hanging from a wall is a huge flying machine, like a hang glider.

After finishing the big museum, we make our way over to the newer, smaller section. Normal people have homes up here, and they are very interesting. The homes, not the people. I imagine the people are interesting but I was talking about the houses. Near the new museum, there is a modernistic play area, with cool things in it.

(L) People live up on "museum hill". (R) Modernistic park next to the new museum section.

(L) Blowup of a mosaic in the park. (R) Jerry is a star, imitating the head stuck on a point on the other side of the star.

I am pretty much floored that one man in one lifetime could do all the things Leonardo did.

The sun has come out, and after our tour of this section of Leonardo's museum, it's photo time, behind the tower museum, where the famous man with outstretched arms stands.

We photo our way back over there.

(L) You don't find streets like this in San Jose. (R) Fog-topped olive tree hills.

(L) Surrounding countryside. (R) Another individual home near the museums.

(L) The old museum is in this tower complex.

(L and R) A famous Leonardo da Vinci figure.

(L) Sharon and I with olive trees in the background. (R) Shirley and I, enjoying the sun.

(L) My compatriots - Most excellent travel companions. (R) Wonderful stone walls everywhere.

(L) Jerry was fascinated with the wall construction. (R) Loved this window flower scene. {OMG, is THIS Italy or what?}

(L and R) Jerry trying to borrow Shirley's binoculars without her taking them off.

After finishing here, we decide (Sharon's fervent wish) to find Leonardo's actual birthplace, and it doesn't take us long to get directions to there. We return to our van and, after some more photos of the town, we take off.

(L) Looking down a narrow street. (R) Your basic Citroen, with two dots over the 'o'.

What's really cool about being in Italy, is the way the language automatically osmossifies into your body, your being. Jerry has just spoken Italian to a man who cut him off with his car. Jerry used hand signals and says, in pure Italian, "Ai ai ai ai ai!"

So at 3:34 pm, we locate the birthplace. Huge olive groves checkerboard the surrounding hills, with the trees lined up in columns and rows.

As we drive in, it looks like the birth home is closed, at least the small driveway up to it is blocked off. We continue past, and park in a parking lot that serves both the local town and the birthplace itself. I say to wait here, and umbrella my way through the shower up to the building,

(L) Road crossing from parking lot to the walkway. (R) The back of Leonardo's birth home.

where I find that it is 100% open. As I head back to the car, I see everybody walking this way already. I'm guessing Sharon has read my mind again. GET OUT OF THERE, SHARON!

It's a three-room place. When you walk through the main door, you are in the kitchen. The room to the right is the birthroom, and the one on the left is "where the animals were kept," says the girl working today.

(L) I call this Leonardo's and Shirley, with umbrella. (R) I think this signifies a historic landmark. {This is the family crest of Leonardo's father (Leonardo was the illigitimate son of the town notary and his mother was a servant in their house. But his father fully embraced him. He was born in this small country house but then lived with his father and father's family in the town of Vinci.}

(L) An early Leonardo drawing. (R) Who dat? Who dat looking out dem windows?

Away from the main building is another structure containing, among other things, a kiln or oven. It looks black, but when I stick my camera in and use a flash, a neat pattern of brickwork on the oven "ceiling" can be seen.

(L and R) The oven, or kiln. The second shot is taken with my camera, using flash, and is pointed slightly upward.

Then Sharon gets us a bird in one of the nearby olive trees. It's chunkier than an American warbler, but has a think, pointy bill like one. It looks a bit like a thrush. Pretty little bird, with a yellow or white eye ring. [I don't recall if we ever identified this bird or not]

We have had all kinds of weather today. Mostly overcast, usually at least sprinkling, with the sun coming out for a bit of great light.

We get a little lost, trying to find first any COOP shopping center, then our local COOP. After feeling more and more lost, suddenly Shirley says there's supposed to be one on top of the hill (how did she know that?), and BAM, Sharon spots our friendly, local COOP. In which we SHO-OP. It's 5 pm.

We're in and out in a half-hour. On the way home, the sun is doing magical stuff.

(L) Fantastic sun's rays through the clouds. (R) Our castle complex. Our building is at lower right.

(L) More explosive clouds and light. (R) Fattoria means farm, or ranch.

Sharon enjoying the tail end of the sunset, looking out one of our bedroom windows.

Then it's home, some dinner, some cleanup, some Rummikube cards, and everybody but me off to bed. I do some catchup on a trip report.

The Cipro I took this morning has made me feel a whole lot better, thank you very much. Tomorrow is what I had on our schedule as a free day. That's where we all decide, based on what we've seen so far, and what we've heard about the surrounding area, where to go. And the concensus is Gimignano (Gee-mun-YA-no, where YA rhymes with FA, as in do-re-me). {It is one of the Tuscan "hill towns" in this area and is famous for its towers. In the next report Bob might tell you that it used to have 72 towers of whch 14 still stand. It seems that every family would build a tower to defend themselves because it seems that every family would fight with every other family in medieval times. Shades of the Montegues and Capulets!}

That's our story for the day, and we're stickin' to it.

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