It was 1506 and Leonardo Da Vinci, according to legend, tested his flight machine on top of Monte Ceceri, a stone’s throw from Fiesole, in the province of Florence. It was not he who flew, but Tommaso Masini, known as Zoroastro da Peretola, on a trajectory pointing towards Florence. On October 13th, 500 years later, that flight was replicated thanks to the work of the students of the Florentine faculty of architecture, who designed, through the study of Leonardo’s drawings, the so-called Nibbio, a small work of art in paper and wood, a flying machine similar to those Leonardo’s wings that flew over Florence. A flying machine with a 3.5 meter wingspan that flew last weekend (without people) along the same trajectory.

The “flight” of Leonardo replicated by the students, the myth lives again 500 years later

“Among the various contributions of the University of Florence to the Leonardian year celebrations – says Professor Francesca Mugnai, of the Department of Architecture of the University of Florence – the Nibbio is the first work of a group of students of the School of Architecture. It is a small architectural artifact dedicated to Leonardo and studies on flight, the result of a happy didactic experience founded on that “test of things” that Leonardo himself placed at the origins of knowledge. Located in the Park of Monte Ceceri, where it will remain for three months, the work is also the result of a reflection on the memory of places and architecture as a possible bridge between time and space.”

The flight was held in the land that today is part of the Fattoria di Maiano. The owner Francesco Miari Fulcis said: “Thanks to the collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture the re-enactment of an extraordinary moment that took place on the top of this hill was staged”. According to legend, the flight of Zoroaster from Peretola on Leonardo’s car (the first human flight in history) lasted a few seconds gliding for about a thousand meters, landing abruptly in Camerata, located between Fiesole and Florence. The flight prophecy was reported by Leonardo himself in the third cover of the «Code on the Flight of Birds», written around 1505 and now preserved in the Royal Library of Turin.