Italia Slow Tour
Menu Search Search
Accept Google cookie.
Please allow cookies for view the video by clicking Accept on the banner.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus

Find it at the Ambrosiana Library of Milan

Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus can be found in the Ambrosiana Library of Milan.

The Ambrosiana Library is one of the world’s oldest public libraries and it is also a picture gallery with a great collection that includes Titian, Luini, Botticelli, Bramantino.

The Codex contains a lot of drawings and writings by Leonardo da Vinci and it is called Atlanticus because it was created on sheets that were used for making atlases!


Watch the full web serie Milan & Leonardo da Vinci

Cover pic courtesy of Mario Taddei (via Wikimedia)

Visit Ambrosiana Library official website

Visit Turismo Milano official website


Video full text: The Codex Atlanticus

Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus can be found in the Ambrosiana Library.
But why is it called Atlanticus?
The Ambrosiana Library is one of the world’s oldest public libraries.
So that’s another major accomplishment for Milan.
Let’s have a quick look at it before we go and see Leonardo’s Codex.
Because it’s also a picture gallery, and what a gallery!
The entire renaissance collection is in here. It includes Titian, Luini, Botticelli and Bramantino.
But let’s keep moving.
This is Luini, the one that’s also in the church of San Maurizio, Leonardo-style!
OK, so this is Botticelli.
This isn’t the Codex, but a book by Pacioli on the Divine Proportion.
Leonardo drew some pictures on the subject and this is the resulting solid.
This is Leonardo’s “Portrait of a Musician’’.
Has anyone ever tried playing the music we see here?
I don’t think so, but it’s a playable melody for sure.
Let’s have a go! There’s undoubtedly some sort of “Leonardo-style” brainwave in there.
Where’s the Codex then?
This is the Ambrosiana Library, and the Codex Atlanticus is in here!
It’s called Atlanticus because it was created on sheets that were used for making atlases.
There are all these drawings and writings.
Here, for example, is a canal that Leonardo had come up with for Milan,
where he expanded its canal system.
This is a study for a fortress.
Leonardo drew many fortifications and other things for use in war.
That’s the sort of thing that was in vogue then, in the court of Ludwig the Moor.
Different diagrams of scaffolds for construction sites.
Practical things, diagrams:
what did builders need to do, once upon a time, when building something? This!
And then there are technical drawings, gear mechanisms, mechanical contraptions.
He even applied mechanics to a loom.
And here we have a wing and a mechanical study of the structure of a bird’s flight.
Not only do birds hover in the air, with a propulsion all of their own,
but they also manage to glide.
Leonardo studied the particular mechanics of bird flight,
because he wanted, sooner or later, to make man fly.
And this is his famous handwriting, it was really small,
a bit because he must have been insane, but also to save on paper.
The sheets were expensive and weren’t easy to find.
One incredibly peculiar thing about him was that he used ‘mirror writing’, starting from the right,
and the only way to read what he wrote is by using this, a mirror.
It’s perfectly legible – it says that the Valtellina and its surrounding areas are very beautiful and pleasurable.
So, Leonardo was a tourist guide as well!


Visit Milan: helpful hints

Italian name: Milano


Milan has got three airports:

  1. Malpensa Airport is the largest international & intecontinental Airport in Northern Italy. 30 miles Northwest from the city centre. Connections:
    Train Malpensa Express: trains leaves every 30 minutes in each direction, connecting the Airport to Milan Grand Central Station or Cadorna Railway Station. Terminals 1 and 2. It takes 45 min, price: 14 €
    Shuttle Bus: Malpensa Shuttle and Malpensa Bus Express connect the airport to Milan Grand Central Railway Station and Milan’s Underground Network. Terminals 1 and 2. It takes 60/70 min, price: 8 €
  2. City Airport Linate is an international airport connecting Milan with main European cities, located just 4 miles from the city centre. Connections by shuttle: Atm Bus n. 73 from Milano Duomo M1 – M3 (Piazza Diaz, direction: San Babila), first ride at 5.35 am, last one at 00.35. Frequency: every 10 min, price 1,5 €
  3. Milan Bergamo Airport Orio al Serio is mainly low cost flights Airport, located 30 miles Northwest from Milan. Connections only by Shuttle: There are 4 different bus companies,  pricing changes from 5 up to 8 €


ATM is Milan public transport service both for bus, tram and subway. Single ticket costs 1.50€ for 90-min ride. Consider daily/weekly subscriptions. You can buy tickets also texting to 48444. Milan Subway is the longest in Italy, covering 95 km: Donwload and check the map.

Moving in town can be nice also by bike: Milan has got a powerfull bike sharing service providing both regular and e-bikes. Here is the experience of our Ambassador Kim Harding with BikeMi service and a useful video of our Ambassador Roxana explaining how does it work. Car Sharing is also good with many different companies to choose.

Try also the local urban railway train, called Passante Ferroviario, check the experience of our Ambassador Roxana Iacoban travelling by local train in town.

What to do in Milan

Milan is the Italian financial center and one of the European capitals of Fashion. Known for its nightlife as well.

Some tips on Italia Slow Tour: watch our web serie about Leonardo da Vinci’s places, climb on top of the Duomo, visit Prada Foundation, Museums and Art Galleries, taste some fine gelato and try the local Aperitivo and – not joking – enjoy a sailing trip (!!) or some time deep in the nature close to some actual farms and fields.

Where to sleep

Accomodations are quite expensive in Milan, fares rise up and hotels get full according to the rich event calendar of the city (see: Fashion Week, Salone del mobile, Big concerts, Theatre and Sport events, etc.). If you are not specifically interested in any of those, try to travel during other periods to save some money.

Italia Slow Tour recommends:

  • Hotel Cervo in Garibaldi District if you want to stay close to city centre and enjoy the nightlife
  • Hotel Concorde located on the Green Way Milan-Lecco to Lake Como, if you want to move around adn travel by bike

Shopping in Milan

The famous Fashion District involves the following streets/areas: Via Montenapoleone, via Manzoni, via della Spiga and Corso Venezia. The so called “Quadrilateral of Fashion”. Here you can find all kind of brands and shops. Easy to reach by Subway (stop at Montenapoleone station).

Don’t miss the Street Markets! Almost every day you can find one: best are the ones in Viale Papiniano (on Tuesday) and Via Fauchè (on Saturday). More on the official website of weekly street markets. If you are into sustainable local products, Milan has got 8 actual farms in town and a green Earth Market.

If you are interested in Outlet Shopping, in the outskirt of Milan you can find 4 different Fashion Outlets, in a radius of 62 miles. Here you can find everyday a lot of famous high quality Italian brands on sale, with prices cut off up to 50%. All the outlets are connected to the center of Milan by Shuttle Bus:

  1. Serravalle Designer Outlet – Shuttle departure from Milan Central Station or Cairoli square
  2. Fidenza Village Outlet Shopping – Shuttle departure from Piazza della Repubblica 5, at the corner with Turati st.
  3. Vicolungo The Style Outlets – Shuttle departure from Cairoli square
  4. Rodengo-Saiano Franciacorta Outlet Village – Shuttle departure from Cairoli square


Italia Slow Tour


Leave a Reply

Latest videos

Watch all videos

For better experience on this site you must accept the use of cookies. more information

On this site we use Google cookies to allow you to watch videos from our YouTube channel on the pages of our site, by clicking accept you allow the use of these cookies allowing you to have a better experience.