Road to Milan, 1482.

The fifteenth century was about to set in, the Pazzi Conspiracy had ended and Lorenzo de Medici, lord of Florence, had sent some Florentine artists to the three corners of Italy to reconstruct the broken relationships with other cities: Botticelli, Perugino, Rossini and others to Rome, Verrocchio and some students to Venice and Leonardo to Milan.

At that time the Italian city states lived in a whirlwind of highly fleeting alliances and rivalries. Lorenzo had therefore decided to send Leonardo to Ludovico Sforza’s court, known as “il Moro”, Duke of Milan, as a cultural sign of diplomatic alliance; a silent agreement sealed with the genius of Da Vinci.

So Leonardo and one of his disciples, the seventeen year old Atalante Migliorotti, walked along the dusty road that led from Florence to Milan. Atalante was part of the gift sent to Ludovico, a young and promising music apprentice with a singular instrument, which that was the only he could play. Lorenzo had had Leonardo forge a silver lyre in the shape of a horse skull and with a mighty timbre.

The journey lasted a week. Leonardo had patented an odometer to calculate the distance between the two cities. The instrument counted the turns of a wagon wheel with an ingenious system: each complete rotation activated a mechanism that pushed a small stone into a container, that emptied to measure the distance.

The wagon carried much of Leonardo’s heritage: books, notes, various paintings including depictions of St. Jerome, a portrait of Atalante, several anatomical reproductions, technical tools and engineering tools.

Leonardo saw Florence move away, until it disappeared. His gaze turned away, he thought of the possibilities of Milan and the projects that he continued to trace in his mind: engineering works and military machines for the Moro army. He didn’t think about painting; the idea of ​​painting bored him and in the same letter, which he would later send to ask Ludovico for a job, he would not mention this virtue in any way.

The walls of Milan were getting closer and so was the court of the duke. The Sforzesco Castle was frequented by artists, actors, painters, mathematicians, astrologers, animal handlers and musicians. Leonardo was entranced by the atmosphere, the new life in Milan looked sparkling. He could finally actually work on the military machines built in his imagination, as well as realize the great engineering works that until now had only taken shape in his notebooks.

Leonardo would eventually make his debut at the palace while doing other things. He will first organize large parties, fireworks and lights for the celebrations of the Duke, and then rejoin the dowry he was trying to escape: Painting.