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February 22, 2002
Vinci: birthplace of Leonardo (Russell)

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At the main piazza in Vinci

After two days of rain, we awoke on February 22nd to a gorgeous morning of sunshine and blue skies, the best weather we've had so far in Italy.  It was our last full day up here in the Tuscany Valley, and we were hard pressed to decide what to do.  Our two main options were to return to the Cinque Terre to visit the southern villages, or to drive back toward Firenze to visit Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci ("da Vinci" means "from Vinci").  We feared that the hiking trails in the Cinque Terre would still be muddy and difficult, so we opted for Vinci.  This would also give us a shorter excursion day and leave us time to return and pack our bags.

We got out of the house a little after 10:00 AM and drove the now-familiar superstrada from Viareggio to Pisa on the SS1 (waving to the "ladies" as we went by), then from Pisa towards Firenze on the S.G.C (nicknamed the "Fi-Pi-Li" for Firenze-Pisa-Livorno).  We also conducted our now-familiar drill of multiplication and division flash cards with the boys before letting them play their Game Boys.

(Cameron has been doing so much math lately that last night, he came running out of his room an hour after going to bed to declare that he had just developed a math formula while lying in bed.  He rushed to grab a piece of paper to jot it down.  Ten minutes later he came running back out to jot down another one.)

After exiting the main road near Castelfranco, we drove meanderingly through a series of remote country villages until we finally reached Vinci at noon.  This town is not mentioned in either our "Let's Go" or "Rick Steves" tour books; we knew about it only through a little pamphlet that came with our villa paperwork.  The self-published author described an interesting little museum dedicated to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, where constructed models accompany his sketches and notes (translated into English, no less).

After parking, we paid our admission and went right into the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci, where we spent a good hour poking around through what can only be described as a rather eclectic set of exhibits (it included several non-da Vinci works, such as the contemporary "Mona Lisa with a Fly on Her Nose").  It wasn't until we left the museum (and snuck a peek at a guide book in a souvenir shop) that we realized that we had gone to the wrong da Vinci museum.

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Il Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci

There were actually two other museums in town: one called the Museo Leonardiano di Vinci and the other the Museo Da Vinci.  The Museo Da Vinci was closed, but we happily discovered that the Museo Leonardino was the one we were looking for.  It occupied two stories of the old city castle, and had rooms full of models just as described in the pamphlet.  We spent another hour here, hopefully instilling Cameron and Joss with new ideas for creativity in their own journals and notebooks.  Before leaving Vinci we also bought our second major souvenir in seven months, a wooden mechanical clock modeled after a da Vinci invention.

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Il Museo Leonardiano di Vinci

We returned home by 4:00 PM, leaving us plenty of time to do additional laundry, pack our bags, and reload the car (we sent Cameron and Joss out to play in the yard, and less than five minutes later Joss entered the villa completely covered with mud).  Gail has done an extraordinary job of planning the amount of food and groceries we need, and for dinner we ate all of the leftovers we have accumulated during the week, including hot dogs and two kinds of pasta.  Everyone has already settled back into the mindset of living on the road and out of suitcases; and we are ready to head south.

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The view from our villa window -- "another lousy day in paradise"


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