Science and Art — Technology and Inspiration

Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci was today’s destination. And again we had the usual map problems, which way is up??? Navigating with the sun has helped. But we have now learned a quicker way of solving it.  When seeking our museum destination we have found that we just need to look for the groups of school children going to the same place! That was our successful method today.

Museo della Scienza

Museo della Scienza courtyard

Leonardo da Vinci was in Milan long before Giovanni Grancino (born-April 15, 1452 – died-May 2, 1519). He was not only an artist but also an extremely intelligent scientist. We were both captivated by the evidence of this creative genius. From painting, sculpture, designs of war tactics (such as flooding a field to deter the enemy and then damning the water so that it could be used again), to his documented experiments in water resources management, da Vinci was a man before his time. Leonardo’s genius lies in his notebooks and sketches that he has left behind. In them he explains his understanding and designs with a vast range of concepts and problems, including the secrets of anatomy, engineering, acoustics, energy, water conservation, art and even life itself.

Leonardo da Vinci

This museum also went beyond the life achievements of da Vinci to other technological advances right up to the computer age with a room dedicated to Steve Jobs. Interestingly enough that room was right next to a mock up of a 17th century violin making workshop! The tools and the varnishes have not changed in the past 400 years. Although power saws are now used to cut down the trees and prepare the wood in slabs for string instrument construction the fundamental technology has not changed.

From this room we went to the museum’s musical instrument collection. None of their stringed instruments were as old or in working/playing condition as my Grancino! We also discovered a small concert hall in the centre of the building where they frequently have performances on historical instruments. Here is a place that might be very receptive to having performances of “Peggy’s Violin” just as I believe the museum at the Castello Sfozesco would be another possible venue. Both locations seem to draw large numbers of school children (as we witnessed) and both locations have very extensive and interesting historical musical instruments in their collections.

Ruins of San Giovanni in Conca

On our return to our hotel this afternoon we headed once more to Via Larga. Just to walk down it one more time from the lower end of the street! This led to another discovery just at the bottom end of the street right in the middle of an intersection. It appeared to be the remains of a church wall. From further investigation we discovered that this was the current remains of a much-storied historical church called San Giovanni in Conca. This structure would have been present during Giovanni Grancino’s time. Interestingly enough it dates as far back as the 4th century AD, and was located in a residential quarter of an ancient Roman City. In the 13th century this structure was reconstructed to become the private chapel of the Visconti.

Cripta Di San Giovanni in Conca under the intersection.

There are further connections here with the Sforzesco Castle and some of the family is even buried here. Like much of Via Larga the church was demolished in the bombing of World War II and what we saw today were the remains of the walls, the crypt and the apse of this once Gothic Façade.

History here in Milan is evident everywhere, unlike Mississauga, which was only incorporated as a city in 1974 and was just farmland up until the mid 20th century. Milan, like the rest of Italy, has so much civilized history that the story of a 310-year-old violin is just a snapshot in the grander picture. Perhaps children in Milan hearing this story will be more interested in their own history captured in the Grancino now living in a country that is so new! In 1702, the Grancino violin was made in Milan while the Iroquois and Algonquin First Nations Peoples were living along the Credit River Valley in Mississauga.

Our time in Milan is almost over! And one search has not yet been really completed. I was hoping to find an image of the street where Giovanni Grancino worked in 1702. So far the only one I have been able to find is this one, from around 1745. It is of the San Giovanni in Conca.

San Giovanni in Conca ca. 1745.

This blog today is being posted a bit later than previous days as Olivia and I trekked a bit farther away to a more distant restaurant that she had researched. Well worth it! Check it out for YOUR next trip to Milan:

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