How can we read nature in its many forms? How can we understand the intricate relationship between humans and the environment? Centuries ago, Leonardo Da Vinci gained insight into the rules of nature. His studies on botany, unknown to many, began with observation. And as an observer, Leonardo relied on his experience. He studied shapes, structures and processes of transformation, and discovered that leaves grow following laws aimed at maximizing light supply, that plants use strategies to absorb water from the earth and transfer it to their extremities. He understood that the number of circles in the trunk define the age of a tree. Forty years ago, Aboca was founded, following Leonardo’s example and embracing his systemic and ecological vision, his profound respect for all living forms, his view of the relationship between humans and nature – not as dominant and dominated but as a harmonious connection. The company – which always has an eye on environmental protection – was founded on the principle of balance between humans and nature. Its research on medicinal plants and the scientific study of their use, made it a world leader in the creation and marketing of products based on plant molecular complexes for health and wellbeing.
Sansepolcro and Aboca Museum
We are in Sansepolcro, a treasure trove located in the upper Tiber Valley. Its foundation is rooted in mythology: it seems, in fact, that two pilgrims returning from the Holy Land built an oratory here in 934 to preserve the relics of the Holy Sepulchre. The nucleus of the village would appear to have risen right on this oratory. Its old town center is surrounded by 16th-century walls interrupted by a Medici fortress, and its alleys, lined with elegant stone buildings, steeped in Renaissance atmosphere. The town was the birthplace of Piero della Francesca, the painter who invented perspective. The Civic Museum, located in the frescoed building that hosts the Piero della Francesca Foundation, houses an extraordinary collection of paintings, and the building itself can also be visited. The Aboca Museum, created to recount centuries of studies of plants and their application in medicine and homeopathy, is set in this rich historical and cultural context, inside the Palazzo Bourbon del Monte. Here, botany comes to life. You are pervaded by odors and perfumes and your sense of smell is stimulated by herbs, spices, flowers and plants.
A short distance from Sansepolcro and the Aboca Museum are two other gems worth visiting. Moving from Sansepolcro into the region’s inland area is the first: Anghiari. An Italian Touring Club Orange Flag village (the quality certification that rewards the tourist and environmental excellence of small inland villages), Anghiari is high up on a spur between the Sovara stream and the Tiberina valley and reveals its medieval past in its perfectly preserved urban layout: alleys and squares, Renaissance buildings and medieval houses. The village is mainly famous for the battle fought here in 1440, where the Florentines defeated the Visconti militia and which Leonardo was tasked with capturing in a mural which unfortunately has not survived. A visit to the Museum of the Battle and Anghiari will clarify what happened during the bloody event, which is inextricably linked to the history of the town. Then, there is Arezzo, one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany. Wonderfully portrayed by Roberto Benigni in his Oscar-winning film Life Is Beautiful, Arezzo has magnificent places to photograph. Starting with Piazza Grande, with its irregular shape and the slope that follows the lie of the land. A meeting place for business and deals in the Middle Ages, its tradition is still perpetuated today. The square still holds major events, such as the Saracen Joust (the game of chivalry in which the four districts of the city compete), and the Antiques Fair. Then there are the medieval buildings and houses, the towers, the colonnade of the Palazzo delle Logge, and Piazza San Francesco with its basilica, which preserves admirable works by Piero della Francesca: the Bacci chapel with its cycle of frescoes and Stories of the True Cross.