When King Francis I of France brought the great Leonardo da Vinci to live in France in 1516, 500 hundred years ago this year, it was like hiring Warren Buffett to be your personal financial advisor or bringing in Steve Jobs to be your techie.


Known throughout Europe as an extraordinary mind and artist, Leonardo was justifiably considered the genius of his day. The French king, who was passionate about art, installed Leonardo in a beautiful house, dating from 1471, the Chateau de Clos Luce. Today a compelling and beautiful museum, it is surrounded by lush gardens and grounds. The king appointed Leonardo “painter, architect and engineer to the King.”


The house, in the royal city of Amboise, had an underground passage to the royal palace, and Francis and his mentor and advisor spent many productive hours together.


Today, the chateau and it grounds are a jewel of the town, a mecca for visitors intrigued not only by da Vinci and his art, but also by his visionary genius. Filled with period furnishings, and with artifacts and models based on the artist’s amazing notebooks, the rooms include kitchens and bedrooms, a library and the artist’s design, painting and study studios. All are human-scale and inviting, and the great spirit of this genius is everywhere.


Daytrippers from Paris and visitors exploring the Loire region are in for a treat. The artist’s spirit and genius are everywhere in evidence. Among all the grand chateaux of the Loire region, this one, smaller in scale but infused with genius, exerts its own special feel, a site not to be missed.


When Leonardo moved to France, he brought several paintings with him, The most iconic, his Mona Lisa, has pride of place in in Louvre in Paris, a source of pride in France—and loss in Italy.


To learn more about Leonardo’s house and the beautiful city of Amboise, check out: [email protected] and www.leschateauxdelaloire.com.

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