Leonardo's vineyard restored

In time for Milan Expo 2015

The original vineyard owned by Leonardo da Vinci is being restored to health, and is planned to be open to visitors in time for Milan’s Expo 2015, fitting perfectly into the exposition’s theme of Feeding the planet, Energy for life.

Decades of painstaking investigation, including documentary research, DNA testing and field exploration, have enabled experts to locate and identify remains of the vines given to the Tuscan artist by Lodovico il Moro in 14989 or 1499 as compensation for his months of work creating nearby the world-famous mural of the Last Supper, reports authoritative food and wine guide Gambero Rosso.

Located close to the refectory of the convent of S. Maria delle Grazie, where the mural attracts thousands of visitors every year, the vineyard is on what is now the property of the Conti family, in the garden of a 15th-century palazzo. Only a small portion of the original vineyard survived, rescued by architect Piero Portaluppi in 1922 during the restoration of the building and its gardens. Then, in 1943, an aerial bombardment caused a fire which almost wiped out the remains.

But the team from Milan University led by the appropriately-named professor Attilio Scienza did not give up. DNA testing conducted by geneticist Serena Imazio, aided by wine expert Luca Maroni, proved that the fragments of Vitis vinifera found in the original location were from Leonardo’s vines.

The team is now recreating the vineyard exactly as Leonardo left it before fleeing to Venice to escape the invasion of French troops. The invaders at first confiscated the property, but seven years later they gave it back to the artist to encourage him to return to Milan and complete some unfinished works.

The vineyard will be open by early May for guided tours. But it will be too soon for visitors to sample the Malvasia di Candia grapes, or their valuable wine.

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