The Good Life France

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Amboise in the Loire Valley | Home of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci: The Amboise Connection by Pamela Shields.

The overriding comment I have to make about this book is ‘absolutely fascinating!’

Everyone has heard of Leonardo da Vinci, most famous perhaps for his paintings including the Mona Lisa which hangs in the Louvre in Paris. However Pamela Shields gives us so much more information about this amazing character. A true Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci had an absorbing interest in the human body, and through his study of corpses drew detailed drawings still studied by the medical world today. He had a mind like no other, capable of conjuring up fantastic machines which were impossible concepts in his day. Now, however, nearly 500 years after his death, many have actually been created.

The life of this intriguing man is detailed in this enthralling book. An Italian by birth Leonardo loved France and, in return was fêted and loved by the Kings of France. After a turbulent life, how fortunate that he was able to spend the end of his life at the Château Clos Lucé, just 500 meters from the majestic Royal Château of Amboise, on the banks of the mighty river Loire, adored and looked after by King François I.

In telling his story the author has given the reader a real insight into this interesting period in French history, chronicling various military campaigns, and the politics of the time. Reading through you can see clearly how the royal families of Europe interacted. The book explains how cities changed from French to Italian, to Spanish, and back again. It tells the tale of the artworks and statues of the great Renaissance maestros and how some pieces managed to surface, in subsequent centuries in unusual places. Some are still to be rediscovered.

As an expat living near Amboise I found this book totally riveting. Anyone visiting the area will be captivated by the beautiful Royal Château of Amboise and the amazing Château Clos Lucé, in whose gardens are working models of many of Leonardo’s inventions.

These wonderful buildings give the visitors a real idea of life in these times, and fans of Leonardo can see where he lived and pay their respects at his final resting place. I urge you to take this book with you, your visit will be so much more enriched by doing so, and you will also discover within its pages the secrets behind other towns nearby, and the famous ‘visitors’ to them. I have to add that this book is wonderfully illustrated by Mark Playle.

So, what does the world hold for this famous man who had such incredible insights all those centuries ago? Well homage to the great man will be paid at Royal Château of Amboise on the 500th anniversary of his death in 2019. Scientists are working on a project to be unveiled in that year – to sequence Leonardo da Vinci’s genome. They will attempt to extract DNA from some of his paintings to confirm once and for all, thatthis is his last resting place. I wonder, what would Leonardo, the artist and scientist think of what they are doing? All I can say is: enjoy reading this fascinating book about one of the most amazing men in history, and decide for yourself.

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