Lonely Planet Writer

Da Vinci’s forgotten vineyard is Milan's not-so-hidden treasure

Until just a few years ago many had never even heard about Da Vinci’s vineyard, a place it’s said he spent his free time while painting the groundbreaking Last Supper. Now the secret’s well and truly out. Since opening to the public in 2015, the vineyard’s been gaining popularity and is a hot spot on any tourist itinerary.

The garden of Casa degli Atellani. Image by Casa degli Atellani

Da Vinci was just 30 years old when he was given this vineyard in 1498 by his patron the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza. It would have had special meaning for Da Vinci who came from a long line of winemakers. Even after he was forced to leave Milan during the French invasion, Da Vinci never forgot his beloved vineyard, and on his deathbed bequeathed it to his favourite pupil and a cherished servant.

DaVinci painted the Last Supper here. Image by Casa degli Atellani

Years later the vineyard passed into various hands and was largely forgotten. It was only rescued from obscurity thanks to the discovery of some remaining vine roots, which incredibly had survived a bomb raid in WWII and remained around 500 years after Da Vinci’s death. Genetically tested and identified as Malvasia di Candia, this precious information allowed Da Vinci’s vineyard to be recreated in all its original glory.

The vineyard lay undiscovered for years. Image by Casa degli Atellani

The vineyard is part of the garden at the Casa degli Atellani, a magnificent 15th century Renaissance palazzo where Da Vinci also stayed while painting the Last Supper. For avid Da Vinci fans this allows you to get the complete experience. You can visit the Last Supper just down the road at the Santa Maria delle Grazie basilica, go for a stroll in his vineyard and then retire to your apartment in the Casa degli Atellani, just like Da Vinci himself might have done.

Words: Stephanie Ong