The river is one of the places where the presence of the Tuscan genius left more traces.
During Renaissance, the Duchy of Milan was one of most culturally and technologically advanced Italian city-states: this was mainly due to the complex canals’ system that since Roman times irrigated the Milanese plain, making it one of the most fertile territories of Europe. On this dense network of canals, several industries and businesses were established: water provided energy for mills, spinning mills and forges; and it acted as communication route for the transport of goods and people from Valtellina and Switzerland to Milan. The Muzza canal that brings Adda water from Cassano d’Adda to Lodi countryside was built in 1220; Naviglio Piccolo or the Martesana, from Trezzo to Milan, was completed in 1457.
Adda and Ticino rivers came into Milan through the inner pit of the canals, the Tombone of San Marco and the Darsena of Porta Ticinese: on their sides several industrial activities were established.
Leonardo stayed in Milan for two long periods: from 1482 to 1500 and again from 1506 al1512. His friendship with the Milanese nobleman Girolamo Melzi often led him to the country estate of the family in Vaprio d’Adda, where he knew the son Francesco who will follow him as student up to his death in France.
During his living along the banks of the river, Leonardo led studies and experiments for his treatise “Delle Acque” and portrayed the landscapes of the Adda course: the river between Monasterolo and Trezzo (Windsor, Royal Library), the Martesana and the promontory of Concesa (Windsor, Royal Library), the ferry between Vaprio and Canonica (Windsor, Royal Library), the castle of Trezzo (of which he drew up the map), the Adda Forra – with the famous Three horns view (painted in the background of the Virgin of the Rocks, and, maybe, of the Mona Lisa). Moreover he designed and implemented improvements and technology upgrades for hydraulic locks and the Paderno Canal connecting lake Como with the city of Milan (Atlanticus Codex).