Quit your home in town, and leave your family and friends, and go over the mountains and valleys into the country.1 —Leonardo da Vinci

I now know what people mean when they say that travel can improve your life considerably.

When I was a teen, my sister told me about an Italian artist and unique polymath who lived during the Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci. Intrigued, I began reading about this staggeringly versatile man and visionary inventor, whose copious notebooks reveal that he studied everything from architecture to geology to aeronautics. I recognized his world-famous masterpieces, the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, from pop-art parodies, and I vowed to one day visit his homeland.

But as the decades passed, my initial fascination with da Vinci gradually faded, and I shelved the trip idea. That was until I read Walter Isaacson’s 2017 biography Leonardo da Vinci. Reading about da Vinci anew reminded me of the incredible and inspiring depth in which he studied many disciplines, as well as the many ways in which he influenced me. For instance, da Vinci’s example inspired my lifelong devotion to self-education in a variety of disciplines and taught me the importance of paying attention to subtle details. These traits, in turn, have fueled my career as a journalist and photographer. . . .

1. Daniel Smith, How to Think Like Da Vinci (London: Michael O’Mara Books, 2015), 9.

2. Lisa VanDamme, “The Life and Poetry of John Keats,” The Objective Standard 14, no. 4 (Winter 2019).

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