The celebrations have already begun. May 2nd will mark the 500th anniversary of the death of one of the world’s most influential people, Leonardo da Vinci. There are plans for celebrations and retrospectives in many cities throughout the country. Leonardo was a driving force behind the Renaissance and worked in numerous fields, including painting, sculpture, architecture, science, mathematics and astronomy. His most recognizable artworks to most are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. The Italian Tribune will launch a multi-part series devoted to Leonardo next month.
The official kickoff began at the Galleria Colonna in Rome, with a speech by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who called Leonardo an immortal genius who still has the power to surprise us today. “The fascination and mystery of the multiform and eclectic genius of Leonardo is incredible,” said Conte. “There is no discipline that did not see him involved, from the arts to philosophy to anatomy.”
The indisputable comments were echoed by the Cultural Minister Alberto Bonisoli. “As one of the key figures of the Renaissance, Leonardo is always evoked and is always present. His personality is vertical, because it draws its roots in culture, but flies high and experiments, moved by a great curiosity. He also has a horizontal approach because he deals with almost everything, from hydraulics to physics and from military fortifications to bronze fusion,” said Bonisoli
At this point, there are 78 separate events throughout Italy that are planned to honor da Vinci. Minister Bonisoli chose three to mention specifically – “The first, at the Royal Museums in Turin, is entitled ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Drawing the Future;’ the second is at the Academy Galleries in Venice and the third, which has just opened at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome. I’d like to stress how Leonardo invented science before science because he was a scientist before the scientific method had been invented.”
The major exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale is dedicated to the scientific genius of Leonardo da Vinci. As hinted by Bonisoli, the show is entitled “La scienza prima della scienza” (Science before Science). The exhibition traces the technological and scientific work of da Vinci and reflects on how “the myth of Leonardo” was developed. There are more than 200 pieces on display of his scientific work. These include the embryonic concepts for the development of what are now the parachute, helicopter and tank. The exhibition devotes an entire room to da Vinci’s military genius with several reproductions of his designs, including his famous giant crossbow.
At the Galleria Colonna, Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio announced that an app called ‘Leonardo 500’ is now ready for all the events taking place across Italy this year. “We decided to create a Leonardo 500 app to monitor and make known all the initiatives on Leonardo, also for our own tourists. The app is available in several languages and will show addresses and web sites where you can get information,” Said Centinaio
Finally, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini addressed the crowded room and stunned the audience by stating, “I announce that we’re working with the French Ambassador to take back the Mona Lisa. It would be more convenient for everyone who wants to see her up close.”
After a moment of awkward silence, he continued, “Joking apart, obviously, we don’t need more international crises.”
The current Italian government has clashed with France on numerous issues recently, ranging from illegal immigration to the building of the Lyon-Turin train line and the loan of art works for this year’s da Vinci events.
Salvini indicated his intent to visit Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco in Milan soon. He then made a veiled reference to the current opposition that he faces with the French government, “As for the Mona Lisa, as long as she is in Paris, that will take a bit longer,” said the Interior Minister.