Thursday, June 5, 2014

Amboise, the King o' France and Leo

Amboise has charisma oozing out of every crevasse, courtyard and stone within it's charming borders.  Once home of the French Royal Court, the town is a mixture of  15th and 16th century buildings (and of course, TROGLO's)
Wine and cheese and birthdays, oh my!
I choose Amboise as one of our hubs, unsuspecting it was the heart of the Early French Renaissance. nor that it has been inhabited since neolithic times. I mean, even the Visigoths visited here! The castle, as we know it, became a hub sometime around 1489, a bastion of enlighten thinkers and artists.
High above on the ramparts.
The real surprise of this small village, with it's tiny, twisty alleyways and crazy beautiful buildings, is that Leonardo Da Vinci lived the last 3 years of his life here. I guess I always thought he died in Italy, but at the age of 64, Charles VIII, the King of France, asked him to come, stay, work, paint and generally, just hang out and do what he wanted. Chuck gave Leo a Chateau with a generous allowance and a secret tunnel that connected to the castle. It is unimaginable to me that at age 65, in the late 1400's, Leo crossed the Alps on the back of a donkey. Of the personal items that he could put in the donkeys trunk (which was probably about the size of the Fiat we have rented) he brought the Mona Lisa. I always thought the French had stole her, like they stole most of the art in the Louvre.
Leonardo's Chateau
We toured his last home, viewing his last works and those of his students. Harvey was fascinated with his inventions. IBM had gifted the Chateau Leo's inventions in working model forms bringing his flying machines, swinging bridges, geared vehicles, to name a few, to life.
More of Leonardo's personal items.
The room where Mona Lisa first lived in France
It has been a rainy day and the Chateau full of school children. We wind our way back down the narrow street to the Carrefour and buy the fixin's for French chili to be cooked in our new gite, in which the kitchen is in a cave. A lovely bottle of Samuer (white wine) and a bar of dark chocolate, and we are out the door for a warm and dry evening.

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