Topographical Notes 

'How in all travels one may learn This benign 

nature so provides that all over the world 

you find something to imitate! 

[With drawings] 

Four braccia in length, two and a half braccia in width two and a 
quarter braccia in thickness. 

And thus are the stones which stand in the front of the mole which 
is at the harbour of Civita Vecchia. 


Half a braccio. Front of the wall of the harbour of Civita. 

c.a. 63 v. b 


[Drawing a b] 

Here the two streams of the waters clash together in the line a b, 
and in such percussion they make a complete circle, one with another, 
striking from the surface to the base. 

And this revolving mass after being formed is driven away from the 
position where it was created by the rush of the waters coming above 
it; and in such a change this revolving mass has acquired two move- 
ments, that is the natural movement round its centre and secondly that 
which it acquires from one place to another. This therefore will be a 
direct revolving movement, which when it occurs in the water or amid 
the air dislodges the soil with much hollowing of it out and scraping 
of it away. 

Where the streams of the waters are equal * the revolutions made by 
the waters as they meet will follow a straight line; but if the streams of 
the waters are unequal the shock of the waters clashing together will 

1 MS. has 'non sono equali'. 




impel the revolving movements towards the hank of the less powerful 
stream, which as it burrows down with its two sets of movements, 
namely the straight and the revolving, goes hollowing out the base- oi 
the banks, and the upper parts which were upheld by these falling 
headlong as their foundations crumble, are worn away anew by this 
eddying movement. 

When the streams of the waters are unequal these waters as they 
meet go ranging round, the less powerful stream entering with the 
branches of its lower eddies underneath those of the upper eddies 
which are made by the more powerful stream. 

When the water of greater power strikes the water of less power the 
line of eddies describes a curve, entering in convex form into the body 
of the water of greater power. 

When the curving line of the eddies enters in its convexity within 
the water of less power this water remains within its limits without 
moving; at this stage it swells up and raises itself and acquires gravity, 
and so from the weight that it has acquired it multiplies in power and 
makes headway against the water which at first overcame it, so that the 
line of eddies is curved in a contrary direction and becomes concave 
where it was formerly convex, and thus the lesser water is often driven 
by the greater and the greater by the lesser, but the lesser is driven 
farther in proportion as it is of less power. 1 c.a. 77 r. b 

Mortar-pieces for the [fleet?] at Venice, in the way that I said at 
Gradisca, in Friuli, and in the Vfeneto]. 

(Bombarde [. . .] llio [naviglio?] a Vinegia, col modo che io detti a 
Gradisca [. . .] friglioli [ ?] e in v[. . .]) c.a. 79 r. c 

Mount Caucasus the mountains of the Komedoi and the Parapanisos 
range are joined together between Bactria and India and give birth to 
the river Oxus, for it is in these mountains that it rises, and it flows 
five hundred miles to the north and as far to the west, and discharges 
its waters into the Hyrcanian sea, and it is accompanied by the Osus, 
the Dragodos, the Artamis, the Xariaspis, the Dragamaim, and the 
Margus, all very large rivers. On the opposite side towards the south 

x The most natural interpretation of this passage in conjunction with the topographi- 
cal note and the drawing is to regard it as a record of travel. In this case Leonardo 
must have visited Sardinia. 



rises the great river the Indus, which guides its waves for six hundred 
miles in a southerly direction, and while in this course it receives as 
tributaries the rivers Zaradrus, Bibasis, Vadris, Vandabal and Bilaspus, 
from the east Suastus and Coe from the west, and after having gath- 
ered these rivers into its waters it turns and flows in a westerly direc- 
tion for eight hundred miles, and checked by the Arbeti mountains it 
makes an elbow there and turns southwards, and so after a further 
course of five hundred miles it comes to the Indian Ocean into which 
it discharges itself by seven mouths. 

Within sight of the same mountain the mighty Ganges rises, and this 
river flows southwards for five hundred miles and to the south east for 
a thousand miles, and Sarabus, Diamuna, Soas, and Scilo with their 
mighty flow accompany it. It pours into the Indian Ocean by many 
mouths. 1 c.a. 95 v. b 

[With drawing] 

Canal of Ivrea, made from the river of Dora. 2 

Mountains of Ivrea in their wild part; it continues towards the north. 

The great weight of the barge which passes through the river which 
is supported by the arch of the bridge does not add weight to this 
bridge, because the barge weighs exactly as much as the weight of the 
water that the barge displaces from its position. c.a. 211 v. a 


Valley of Chiavenna 

Above Lake Como in the direction of Germany lies the valley of 
Chiavenna where the river Mera enters the lake. Here the mountains 
are barren and very high with huge crags. In these mountains the water 

1 MS. Comedorum. Ptolemy refers to the Komedoi as the inhabitants of the hill 
country that lay to the east of Bactriana. 

Ptolemy is obviously the authority from whom Leonardo has derived his lists of 
tributaries. Those of the Oxus appear in Leonardo as Osus, Dragodos, Artamis, Xarias- 
pis, Dragamaim and Margus, and these are given by Ptolemy qs Okhos, Dargoidos, 
Artamis, Zariaspis, Dargamanes and Margos. 

For the Indus Leonardo has Zaradrus, Bibasis, Vadris, Vandabal and Bilaspus. 
Ptolemy has Zaradros, Bibasis, Adris, Sandabal and Bidaspes. (See McCrindle, Ptolemy: 
Ancient India edit. Majumbar, Calcutta 1927.) 



birds called cormorants arc found; here grow firs larches and pines, and 
there are fallow deer, wild goats, chamois and savage bears. One cannot 
make ascents there without using hands and feet. In the season of the 
snow the peasants go there with a great trap in order to make the bears 
fall down over these rocks. The river runs through a very narrow 
gorge: the mountains extend on the right and the left in the same way 
for a distance of twenty miles. From mile to mile one may find good 
inns there. Higher up the river there are waterfalls six hundred braccia 
high which are very fine to see, and you may find good living at four 
soldi for your bill. A large quantity of timber is brought down by this 

Vol S a sin a 

Val Sasina runs in the direction of Italy. It has almost the same shape 
and characteristics. The mappello 1 grows here plentifully : there are 
great floods and waterfalls. 

Valley of Trozzo 

In this valley firs pines and larches grow plentifully; and from here 
Ambrogio Fereri has his logs brought down. 

At the head of the Voltolina are the mountains of Bormio which are 
terrible and always covered with snow. Here ermines breed. 


At Bellagio 

Opposite the castle of Bellagio is an insignificant stream which falls 
from a height of more than a hundred braccia from the spring where it 
rises sheer into the lake with inconceivable din and uproar. This spring 
flows only in August and September. 

The Voltolina 

The Voltolina as has been said is a valley surrounded by lofty and 
terrible mountains; it produces a great quantity of strong wine but has 
so great a stock of cattle that the peasants reckon that it produces more 

1 The meaning of this word is unknown. The Italian for maple is acero. 



milk than wine. It is this valley through which the Adda passes which 
first flows through Germany for more than forty miles. In this river is 
found the grayling 1 which feeds on silver of which much is to be 
found in its sand. 

Everyone in this district sells bread and wine, and a jug of wine is 
never more than a soldo, veal is a soldo the pound, and salt ten denari 
and butter the same and eggs a soldo for a quantity. c.a. 214 r. e 


At Bormio 

At Bormio are the baths; eight miles above Como is the Pliniana, 
which rises and falls every six hours, and as it rises it supplies two mills 
with water and there is a surplus, and as it falls it causes the spring to 
dry up for a distance of more than two miles. It is in this district that a 
river falls with a great impetus through a mighty chasm in the moun- 
tain. These journeys should be made in the month of May, and the 
largest bare rocks which exist in these parts are the mountains of 
Mandello near to those of Lecco and Gravidonia; towards Bellinzona 
thirty miles from Lecco are those of the valley of Chiavenna; but the 
greatest is that of Mandello, which has at its base a gully towards the 
lake that descends two hundred steps, and here at all seasons there is 
ice and wind. 

In Vol Sasina 

In Val Sasina between Vimognio and Introbbio on the right hand 
where you enter the road to Lecco you come upon the Trosa, a river 
which falls from a very high rock and as it falls goes underground and 
so the river ends there. Three miles farther on you come to the build- 
ings of the copper and silver mines near to the district known as Prato 
San Pietro, and the iron mines, and various strange things. La Grignia 
is the highest mountain in these parts and it is without any vegetation. 

c.a. 214 v. e 

1 MS. has 'il pescio temere'. I have followed Richter's suggestion 'temolo'. 




The reason is that if you were to place together the mouths of the 
rivers which come into this Mediterranean sea you would find that 
there was a greater volume of water than that which this sea pours 
through the straits into the ocean. You see that Africa discharges into 
this sea such of its rivers as flow to the north, among these being the 
Nile which waters three thousand miles of Africa, the river Bragada, 
the Mauretanus and others like these. Europe pours there the Don and 
the Danube, the Po and the Rhone, the Arno and the Tiber. It is clear 
therefore that these rivers together with an infinite number of lesser- 
known rivers make up a greater breadth depth and current than are 
found in the eighteen miles of ocean straits which divide Europe from 
Africa at their western extremities. And if you should wish to say that 
the rivers which empty themselves into the ocean act differently, it is 
certain that the aforesaid rivers almost all have their origin in moun- 
tains near to this ocean, and if these mountains were to empty them 
there there would be no river in the vicinity of as great current as the 
Nile and the Danube, and if moreover there were a resemblance, con- 
sider that these rivers, in emptying themselves into the ocean, can give 
it but little increase so as to restore the current towards the east, unless 
it always is that the clouds contain a greater volume than that which 
the rivers place there, and these clouds becoming constricted compress 
the air with swift movement within the other air, like a hand which 
squeezes a sponge with water amid the other water, so that that which 
flies away gives place to the rest. 

Water moves within water with the same facility as air moves within 
air although it is more . . . [t . . .] [?] as is seen in its circles. 

Current only exists in the seas which communicate with the ocean; 
the Caspian sea and the swamps have no current; while the Indian 
Ocean flows eastwards the western Mediterranean flows westward. 

c.a. 215 v. d 

Write to Bartolomeo the Turk about the ebb and flow of the Black 
Sea and ask whether he knows if there is the same ebb and flow in the 
Hyrcanian or Caspian Sea. c.a. 260 r. a 




The Mediterranean Sea a vast river interposed between Africa Asia 
and Europe gathers within itself about three hundred principal rivers, 
and in addition to these it receives the rains which fall upon it over 
a space of three thousand miles. It gives back to the mighty ocean its 
own waters and the others that it has received, and without doubt it 
gives less back to the sea than those it receives; for from it descend 
many springs which flow through the bowels of the earth and vivify 
this terrestrial machine. This is necessary by reason of the fact that the 
surface of this Mediterranean is more remote from the centre of the 
world than the surface of this ocean, as is proved by my second [rule]; 
and in addition to this the heat of the sun is continually evaporating a 
portion of the water of the Mediterranean, and as a consequence this 
sea can acquire but little increase from the aforesaid rains, and is but 
little diminished through the water that has been added to it being 
poured into the ocean, or from it being evaporated by the heat of the 
sun or the course of the parching winds. c.a. 263 v. b 

The watery sphere desires perfect roundness, and that part which 
projects above its general surface cannot continue, and in a short time 
becomes smooth; and if you should wish that the water should be 
drawn aside in order to allow space for the earth and uncover it, and 
that in this way it should remain spherical, this would be impossible 
because the water that flows from Syria would be low, and at the 
island Aritella which is four hundred miles distant from the strait of 
Gibraltar it would be the high sea, which is three thousand four hun- 
dred miles distant from the shores of Syria, and at this island the water 
is very shallow, and beyond it there is little depth to be found. 

c.a. 264 r. b 

Amboise has a royal fountain which has no water. c.a. 296 r. a 

[Mechanical drawings with various numbers, 'minutes of the hour', 

'hours', 'moon'] 

Clock of the tower of Chiaravalle, which shows the moon, the sun, 
hours and minutes. c.a. 399 v. b 



Why there is water in the bigh parts of the mountains: 
From the straits oi Gibraltar to the Don is three thousand five hun- 
dred miles, that is to say one mile and one sixth, allowing a fall of 
one braccio per mile tor all water that moves at a moderate rate of 
speed. And the Caspian Sea is considerably higher, and none of the 
mountains of Europe rises a mile above the surface of our seas. One 
might therefore say that the water which is in the summits of our 
mountains comes from the heights of these seas, and from the rivers 
which pour themselves down there and which are higher, f 50 r. 

[Of sand-hills. Libya] 

Describe the mountains of 'flexible dry things'. Treat that is of the 
formation of the waves of sand borne by the wind, and of its hillocks 
and hills as it occurs in Libya; you may see examples in the great sand 
banks of the Po and the Ticino and other large rivers. f 61 r. 

Map of Elephanta * in India which belongs to Antonello the mer- 
chant, f cover 2 r. 

At Santa Maria at O. in the valley of Ravagnate in the mountains 
of Brianza 2 the rods of the chestnut are nine braccia and fourteen : 
five lire for a hundred of nine braccia. 

At Varallo Pombia near Sesto upon the Ticino the quinces are large 
white and firm. g 1 r. 

[Water of a mill at Florence] 
[Drawing] Small mill at Florence. 

This water in its general descent turns a right angle; but in the 
floods it goes straight. And its percussion is so powerful that as it bur- 
rows down it carries the stones in its course, rolling over the strand 

1 Elephanta is the name of an island in the harbour of Bombay named from a colossal 
statue that stood on it and containing Brahmanic rock caves of vast dimensions which 
served the Hindus as temples, the largest, hewn out of hard trap rock, being one hundred 
and thirty feet across with columns and sculptures. The note may be due to the fact of 
some account of these caves having come to the knowledge of Leonardo. His interest 
in rock caves is shown from a passage in the Arundel Manuscript (b.m. 155 r.). 

2 MS. 'Nella valle di ranvagnan ne monti brigantia'. I have followed the translation 
of Richter. Ravaisson-Mollien points out however that Leonardo on the following page 
of the MS. mentions Monte Viso, which is not far from the mountains of Briancon 
(Brigantio), and hazards the conjecture that there may be a locality of a name resembling 
ranvagnan in a valley of this region. 



formed by the other stones; and so the water following the leap out of 
its surface leaves the driven stones on the extremity of the mountain. 
But when the bed or the floods fail the water cannot pass the already 
formed hill of shingle, and consequently it turns in its first course 
made by the fall of the other water, which is found in excess at the 
fishing pool, which forms this hollow at the place where the water 
falls. i 75 t 2 ?] v - 

The shepherds in the Romagna make at the base of the Apennines 
certain huge hollows in the mountains of the shape of a horn and 
they set a horn by its side so that this small horn becomes one with 
the cavity already made and by means of it a very loud noise is pro- 
duced, k 2 r. 

Rhodes contains five thousand houses. l cover v. 

[Notes made in Romagna] 
Dove-cot at Urbino. 30 July 1402 (1502). l 6 r. 

[With sketch of wave] 

Made by the sea at Piombino. 

The water a b c is a wave which has traversed the slope of the shore 
and which as it turns back meets with the wave that comes upon it; 
after striking each other they leap upwards and the weaker yields to 
the stronger so that it traverses again the slope of the said shore. 

l 6 v. 


Acquapendente belongs to Orvieto. 


l 10 v. 


[With drawing] 
Fortress of Cesena. l 15 v. 

[ With drawing of bell] 
Siena. l 19 v. 

[With architectural drawings] 
Steps of Urbino. l 19 v. 

The foundation must be as broad as the thickness of any wall upon 
which this foundation rests. l 20 r. 



[With drawing] 

Bell of Siena, that is the manner of its movement and the position 
of the attachment of its clapper. l 33 v. 

[With architectural drawing] 
St. Mary's Day, the middle of August, at Cesena, 1502. l 36 v. 

[With drawing] 
Stairs of the Count of Urbino — rough. l 40 r. 

At the Fair of San Lorenzo at Cesena, 1502. l 46 v. 

[With drawing] 

Window at Cesena. 

A for the frame of linen cloth, b for the window of wood; and the 
angle rounded off is a quarter of a circle. l 47 r. 

Porto Cesenatico on the sixth day of September 1502 at fifteen hours. 

How bastions ought to project beyond the walls of towns to be able 
to defend the outer slopes so that they may not be struck by the 
artillery. l 66 v. 

The fortress of the harbour of Cesena is at Cesena four points to the 
south-west. l 67 r. 

[With drawing] 

Grapes carried at Cesena. 

The number of the men who dig the trenches takes the form of a 
pyramid. l 77 r. 

Make a harmony with the different falls of water as you have seen 
at the fountain of Rimini, as you have seen on the eighth day of Au- 
gust 1502. l 78 r. 

[With plan] 
Fortress of Urbino. l 78 v. 

[With drawing] 
Cart of Cesena. l 82 r. 

First day of August 1502. 

At Pesaro, the Library. l cover r. 



[The Arno] 

No simple reflex movement is ever as much raised as the commence- 
ment of the falling movement. 

To guard against the percussion of the Arno at Rucano and to turn 
it with a gentle curve towards Ricorboli, and to make the bank so 
wide that the fall of its leap may be above it. l 31 r. 


Width forty braccia, height above the water seventy braccia, length 
six hundred braccia, that is four hundred above the sea and two hun- 
dred resting on land thus forming abutments to itself. 1 l 66 r. 

In Romagna where all the dullards congregate they use carts with 
four equal wheels, or they have two low in front and two high ones 
behind, and this is a great restraint on movement because more weight 
is resting upon the front wheels than upon those behind as I have 
shown in the first of the fifth 'Concerning Elements'. 

And these first wheels move less easily than the large ones, so that 
to increase the weight in front is to diminish the power of movement 
and so to double the difficulty. 
[Diagram ] 

Here the larger wheel a has three times the leverage of the small 
wheel; consequently the small one finds three times as much resistance 
and to add a hundred pounds [necessitates adding] two hundred more 
to the small [wheel] a; look how this works. h 72 r. 

[A note on relative positions of towns between Bologna and Forli] 

Imola sees Bologna at five points from the west towards the north- 
west at a distance of twenty miles. 

Castel San Pietro is seen from Imola midway between west and 
north-west at a distance of seven miles. 

Faenza is as regards Imola exacdy in the centre between east and 
south-east at a distance of ten miles. 

1 The time references in this manuscript point to this note as having been written 
in or about the year 1502. The project seems to have gone no farther. Richter records 
how four years later when Michelangelo suddenly left Rome he entertained the idea of 
going to Constantinople where, as both Vasari and Condivi state, his services had been 
requisitioned to make a bridge to connect Constantinople with Pera. 



Forli is as regards Faenza exactly in the centre between south-cast 
and east at a distance of two miles from Imola and ten from Faenza. 

Forlimpopoli is in the same direction at twenty-five miles from 

Bertinoro is as regards Imola at five points from the east towards the 
south-east, at a distance of twenty-seven miles. l 88 v. 

From Bonconvento to Casanova 10 miles; from Casanova to Chiusi 
9 miles; from Chiusi to Perugia 12 miles; from Perugia to Santa Maria 
degli Angeli and then to Foligno. l 94 v. 

[With drawing] 

Solid rock of Mugnone hollowed out by the water in the form of 
vessels. It seems a work done with the hand, because it is so exact. 

b.m. 29 v. 


The cutting of Abyla and Calpe in the straits of Cadiz reduces 
considerably the rivers which descend from the Alps and run to the 
north. And this is proved by reason of the fact that before this cutting 
in the mountains of Cadiz was formed the surface of the Mediter- 
ranean Sea was very high, and surpassed the height of three parts of 
the Alps, and the penetration of the sea through the passages and 
veins of the earth was very high and abundant; and after this cutting 
of Cadiz the surface of the Mediterranean Sea there was lowered, and 
the aforesaid high passages remained emptied of their waters, and the 
rivers lost the abundance of their streams. b.m. 168 v. 

[With drawings] 

When two rivers together intersect that will be of less depth which 
is of slower course. 

When Rifredi b meets with the sluggish Arno, this Arno raises its 
bed, and the stream of Rifredi wears it away and makes sudden depth. 

b.m. 271 r. 

They do not know why the Arno never keeps its channel. It is 
because the rivers which enter it deposit soil where they enter and take 



it away from the other side, thus forming a bend in the river there. 

The course of the Arno is six miles from La Caprona to Leghorn, 
and twelve through the marshes which have an expanse of thirty-two 
miles, and sixteen up from La Caprona which makes forty-eight; by 
the Arno from Florence there is a space of sixteen miles; to Vico is 
sixteen miles and the canal is five; from Florence to Fucechio is forty 
miles by the water of the Arno. 

Fifty-six miles by the Arno from Florence to Vico; and by the 
Pistoia canal is forty-four miles; therefore it is twelve miles shorter by 
the canal than by the Arno. 1 Windsor: Drawings 12279 

The direction of Imola from Bologna is five points north-west of 
west and its distance is twenty miles. 

The direction of Castel San Pietro from Imola is midway between 
west and north-west at a distance of seven miles. 

The direction of Faenza from Imola is exactly midway between 
east and south-east at a distance of ten miles, so also is that of Forli 
from Imola at a distance of twenty miles, and of Forlimpopoli from 
Forli at a distance of twenty-five miles. 

The direction of Bertinoro from Imola is two points south-east of 
east at a distance of twenty-seven miles. Windsor: Drawings 12284 


You should make steps on four sides by which to ascend to a plateau 
formed by nature on the summit of a rock; and let this rock be hol- 
lowed out, and supported with pillars in front, and pierced beneath 
by a great portico, wherein water should be falling into various basins 
of granite and porphyry and serpentine, within recesses shaped like a 
half-circle; and let the water in these be continually flowing over; and 
facing this portico towards the north let there be a lake with a small 
island in the centre, and on this have a thick and shady wood. 

Let the water at the top of the pillars be poured down into vases 

1 Vasari refers to Leonardo's interest in the project of a canal from Pisa to Florence. 
Documents showing his activity in project of turning the Arno in war with Pisa in 1503 
are given in Gave, Carteggio Inedito, and by Milanesi, Arch. Stor. Ital., Serie III, Tom. 



standing at their bases, and from these let there be flowing tiny 

From the coast. — Setting out from the coast of Cilicia towards the 
south, you discover the beauty of the island of Cyprus, which . . . 

Windsor: Drawings 12591 r. 

From the southern sea-board of Cilicia may be seen to the south the 
beautiful island of Cyprus, which was the realm of the goddess Venus; 
and many there have been, who, impelled by her loveliness, have had 
their ships and rigging broken upon the rocks which lie amidst the 
seething waves. Here the beauty of some pleasant hill invites the 
wandering mariners to take their ease among its flowery verdure, 
where the zephyrs continually come and go, filling with sweet odours 
the island and the encompassing sea. Alas! How many ships have 
foundered there! How many vessels have been broken upon these 
rocks! Here might be seen an innumerable host of ships; some broken 
in pieces and half-buried in sand; here is visible the poop of one, and 
there a prow; here a keel and there a rib; and it seems like a day of 
judgment when there shall be a resurrection of dead ships, so great is 
the mass that covers the whole northern shore. There the northern 
winds resounding make strange and fearful noises. 

Windsor: Drawings 12591 v. 

Of the waters of the lake of Viterbo which are changed into vapour : 
How the fire of Mongibello 1 is fed thousands of miles away from 
its mouth. Leic. 18 r. 

How at Bordeaux, which is near Gascony, the sea rises about forty 
braccia before it ebbs, and the salt waters flood the river for more than 
a hundred and fifty miles; and the vessels which have been laid up 
to be caulked are left high and dry on the top of a high hill above 
where the sea has receded. 

How above Tunis there is a greater ebb than [elsewhere] in the 
Mediterranean, namely about two braccia and a half; and at Venice 
the fall is two braccia; and in all the other parts of the Mediterranean 
the fall is little or nothing. 

How within a short time the river Po will cause the Adriatic Sea to 
dry up in the same way as it has dried up a great part of Lombardy. 

1 Mount Etna. Leic - 2 7 v -