This week saw the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, with both scholarly and popular interest in the man and his work showing no sign of abating half a millennium after his passing. Among the many articles marking this occasion was one published by RTV Slovenia, in conjunction with a documentary shown by the national broadcaster, which added some local interest to the story of one of the original Renaissance men.
According to Alessandro Vezzosi, an Italian researcher, da Vinci visited the lands that eventually became known as Slovenia in 1500, when Venetians ruled what today is Slovenian Istria, the Posočje region between Bovec and Tolmin, as well as the area of Idrija. He was sent as a military engineer by the Venetian Republic to consider how to prevent an attack by the Turks through the Vipava Valley into the lowlands of northern Italy.
Da Vinci thus devised a plan that would prevent Turkish invasions of the Venetian Republic by using a system of dams and allowing the flooding of certain valleys, as well as designing a movable artillery defensive system in the Posočje region, and sketching a picture of the bridge over the Vipava River.
However, while the Atlantic Codex reveals that da Vinci undoubtedly visited and studied the confluence of the Vipava and Soča rivers, present-day Gorica, and surrounding areas, his plans for the building of a Venetian defensive line remained, like so many of his ideas and inventions, unrealised.