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The mystery of Da Vinci’s birthplace

Leonardo da Vinci was not born in Anchiano, the Italian village that is popularly recongised as the Renaissance master’s birthplace, says the scholar Martin Kemp. The Leonardo expert told an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this week that he is working on a new book on the artist with the archive researcher Giuseppe Palanti. “We now know who Leonardo’s mother is,” he added, then asked the crowd, “Has anybody been to the Casa de Natale at Anchiano?” When no one raised their hands he said, “That’s probably a good thing. It’s not his birthplace.” While the revelation might be met with a shrug from art historians, who have long known that Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a wealthy Florentine notary, it is likely to come as a shock to the community of Anchiano, just outside the town of Vinci, which became a pilgrimage site for art lovers after being identified as Leonardo’s hometown. In 2012, the farmhouse in which the artist is believed to have been born reopened after a major restoration with new displays. Further details await the publication of the book, Kemp said.