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Mulino del Ronzone: a cultural revival in Leonardo Da Vinci lands

In Vinci, a town in the outskirts of Florence, thanks to the cultural association SUONAMIDITE Onlus, a significant project is blooming: the Mulino del Ronzone, Art and Music Production Centre as a coworking residential site. Already restructured and refurbished with low-environmental construction systems, it is located in lands that used to be owned by Ser Piero’s family in the 1600’s –  the real surname of Leonardo da Vinci.

The main character of this initiative is mainly music, but more importantly the art. The idea was inspired by the Vinci landscape, a location that evokes the historical bond between past, present and future. Mulino del Ronzone might act as a poetical inspiration for musicians and artists –  travelling through Leonardo da Vinci persona and origins – but can also flood visitors with its astonishing architecture and lands, worth visiting and exploring.

Mario Costanzi, the project- manager of SUONAMIDITE Onlus, and his team have launched the fundraising campaign to help the Mill further develops. The campaign is available by clicking bit.ly/Mulino_Vinci on Produzioni dal Basso platform where you can participate and see the current donations.

To this, we had the honour to ask some questions to Mr Costanzi about this outstanding cultural project.

1-What’s the mission of “Suonamidite” and where are you guys based?

Suonamidite is a non-profit organisation that believes in music as a connection between people, as an environment of relationships and social growth, and in contrast to loneliness, personal and social unease. It also deals with any form of art and dissemination of culture.

Our activities mainly take place in the hinterland of the town of Empoli, near Florence. We perform in schools and nursing homes. We have also undertaken actions in other locations: Genoa, L’Aquila and Milan.

2- I understood you are now working on another exciting project in Vinci, Tuscany. Before going in-depth about it, do you mind drawing Vinci from a tourist and artistic perspective?

Vinci is a small town on the slopes of a hill chain called Montalbano. We are in the hill West of Florence, the old hunting areas of the Medici family, where we find many ancient trophy buildings built by Florentine nobles. From an environmental perspective, the surrounding is marvellous, rich in olive groves and vineyards of great importance. Vinci lands are distinguished from dry stone terracing that facilitates the olive harvest, small streams and lush woods.

Some of the greatest artists of the Florentine Renaissance walked through these places: Pontormo in Empoli and Leonardo in Vinci, to name just two.

3 – Coming back to the project … It looks like you have found a gorgeous mill close to Vinci….

Yes, it is beautiful! It is owned by some private individuals who, knowing the Association, have entrusted the mill to us asking to use it in order to pursue our mission to disseminate art and culture, with a particularly keen eye on music.  The mill origins go back to around the 1400s,  on the land belonged to Leonardo’s descendants until the mid-19th century. It is on the banks of the Balenaia brook and was a mill and an olive press. The current owners have refurbished it, bringing it to its current state of excellent conservation and full use.

4 – How will this recreational place be structured? What would you like to have inside?

The heart will be the music production studio, which is coming to light these days. Low environmental impact construction systems are made with recycled materials through the collaboration with artisans of the area, such as blacksmiths and carpenters. Then there will be the possibility of hosting artistic workshops, seminars, exhibitions and small performance-type events since the structure has a very suggestive courtyard that can become a microscopic arena.

5 – How did you come up with this idea?

The idea originated from the desire to use the structure while respecting the memory and utopia of Leonardo da Vinci, who wanted art as a vehicle to how nature could be understood and narrated, and therefore the life itself. In a location closed to Leonardo’s persona, we could only recreate the magic of sounds, colours and ideas that always reflected the Florentine genius’s background.

6 – Considering the purpose of your charity Suonamidite and the vision of the mill project, why do you think Vinci is the best place for this project?

Vinci is a magical place for the surrounding nature and its history. It is a well-known place, not least for the name itself, which brings us precisely to Leonardo. It is an area where it is possible to build social experiences. Human relationships are an essential aspect, where crafts and craftsmanship skills still exist, in which there is a peculiar education in culture and art. To notice, it is not far from significant centres such as Empoli and Florence and is close to primary communication routes that run along the side of the River Arno.

7– How are you funding the project?

To finance the project, we have allotted the funds for all the activities of this last period. We have also started crowdfunding campaigns; then we are trying to involve institutions, businesses and foundations.

8 – Who’s helping you with all of this?

Many friends are helping us and this is amazing because it makes us feel connected with the territory. The companies we are working with also see us more as partners than clients which becomes an advantage.

9 – Is there something similar close to you or – more in general – in Italy?

There are several experiences of residential production facilities in singular locations. I must say that ours has the particularity of being managed as a project, not only as a recording studio but as a real multifunctional art centre. To this, by considering the proximity of the town of Vinci, the land to which Leonardo’s family belonged, it makes it truly unique!

10 – Could the project be part of a potential cultural tourism tour (i.e. bike tour, gastronomy etc.) whilst maintaining the scope of the activity and remaining as a destination product?

Yes, of course; we also provide different touring experiences connected to our crowdfunding campaign. We are part of a team of locals non-profit organisations, we work to enhance tourism experiences and promote the town of Vinci.

11 – Is the Mulino del Ronzone simple to reach from Vinci and other locations such as by car, public transportation and on a walk?

We are 1.5 Km far from the historical centre of Vinci, about 20-30 minutes walking. The place is easily reachable by car, and there is none public transportation from Vinci. Nevertheless, all the people that join us by reservation simply calling or emailing us will have the “honour” to be taken to the mill by one of our friends in Vinci or someone of the mill-staff.

12 – Is the Mill also structured with different accessibilities for people with disability?

We are working on this. The place doesn’t have restricting structures, while the ground floor is fully accessible as the performance area.

13 – You mentioned activities with schools. Are you considering to organise educational activities for children, for example, small and interactive tours to explore Leonardo da Vinci’s life?

We are planning several different activities in collaboration with teachers and institutions of Vinci and surroundings, to allow children to practice the way Leonardo used to see and explore the nature and inner secrets of life. We have many years of experience with schools, and most of our musical production dedicates the attention to teaching children how to live in tune with the world around. Furthermore, everything about climate change and similar is planned to be integrated as part of our educational activities.

14 – Free space to convince and explain people abroad to visit the mill and Vinci.

Here you will find everything: The Tuscany landscape highlights some of the best features, as well as linking with history right here at our mill; an old farmhouse that shows the signs of centuries and the life that passed over time. The studio is constructed with attention to the acoustic, environment, technology and aesthetic design. Last but not least, the Italian genius combined with art and nature… What else can you desire??