Florence, Italy

Leonardo spent his early years as an Apprentice to Verrocchio in Florence. During these years, he often worked creating pageants which is believed to be the inspiration for his helicopter design. True to his interdisciplinary nature, Leonardo also spent his years as an apprentice learning about a wide variety of other topics including painting, botany, and engineering. Around the late 1470s, Leonardo also became interested in hydraulic engineering and took particular interest in studying Archimedes’ screw, the physical principles of which are very similar to those behind his helicopter design. Living in Florence gave Leonardo ample access to scholarly works that he could consult and learn from to continue to pursue his varied interests.


The Young Leonardo: Art and Life in Fifteenth-Century Florence

Feinberg, Larry J. The Young Leonardo: Art and Life in Fifteenth-Century Florence. Cambridge University Press, 2014.


Latitude: 43.769560400000
Longitude: 11.255813600000

Timeline of Events Associated with Florence, Italy

Date Event Manage

da Vinci's Aerial Screw Sketch

circa. 1467 to circa. 1472

Leonardo Works on Theatrical Productions During Apprenticeship

During his years as an apprentice in Florence, Leonardo spent much time working on creating pageants and theatrical performances for the Medici family. This work included creating costumes and scenery and devising new designs for stage machinery and special effects. Among the special effects used in these pageants were devises that allowed performers and props to be suspended through the air. Many scholars suggest that a number of Leonardo’s devices for human flight were actually created for or inspired by stage mechanisms for theatrical purposes. Many believe that the famous helicopter, or aerial screw, was actually a originally designed as a ingegni, or devise for changing scenery. During his early work in theater, Leonardo learned much about engineering, design principles, and creativity that he would continually apply to his other works.


Isaacson, Walter. Leonardo Da Vinci: the Biography. Simon & Schuster, 2018.