Considered one of the greatest polymaths in human history, Leonardo was an inventor, artist, musician, architect, engineer, anatomist, botanist, geologist, historian and cartographer.

He was born in the Tuscan town of Vinci on April 15, 1452, and died on May 2, 1519 (aged 67), in the French town of Amboise.

While this is all common knowledge, here are some interesting things you may not have known about Leonardo.

  • Leonardo da Vinci is named after the town in which he was born, Vinci. The scenic hilltop town lies 40 kilometres west of Florence. You can still visit Leonardo’s home in Vinci to this day.
  • Leonardo knew how to play the lyre and he made one in the shape of a horse’s head. He also invented the mechanical drum and the pianoviola.
  • Leonardo was funny and famous for his jokes. To conclude one of his manuscripts, he wrote: Eccetera, perché la minestra si fredda! (Et cetera, because the soup will get cold!)
  • There exists only one self-portrait of the talented artist, painted when he was older.
  • Leonardo is the mastermind behind the most valuable artwork in history. His work Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) is worth US$450 million (AU$640 million).
  • Leonardo never stopped learning. At 44 years old, he became the student of the famous mathematician, Luca Pacioli.
  • Leonardo was also the court designer and engineer in Milan. He designed hydraulic systems, canals and fortresses. In 2001, a bridge built from one of his designs was inaugurated in Norway.
  • It’s believed that Leonardo was a vegetarian, while it’s certain he was passionate about cooking and spices. He wrote a recipe for a refreshing summer drink with rose water and invented many culinary objects, such as a device used to slice eggs.
  • Leonardo organised spectacular parties and banquets, designing costumes, sets and special effects that had never been seen before. He was also a “wedding planner” for Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Isabella of Aragon. His Festa di Paradiso (Paradise Party) is still spoken of today.
  • Leonardo didn’t get along well with fellow Renaissance artist Michelangelo. In 1504, they challenged each other “with brushstrokes” to create the winning painting of a famous battle for the Council Hall in Florence. Neither of them won, as they both failed to finish their respective artwork.

Find out more about the Italian genius in this month’s edition of In classe, which was published in today’s edition of Il Globo and La Fiamma, and is dedicated to Leonardo’s life and accomplishments.