Leonardo da Vinci and the Flight

The original Codex manuscript as a multi-medial and 3D experience
21/01 - 07/05/2017
Musei Capitolini,
Palazzo Caffarelli

Based on the story of Daedalus and Icarus, flight is a dream integral to the history of civilisation.  The Codex on the Flight of Birds - the manuscript that contains details of all the intuitive theories da Vinci elaborated on the subject – is now in Rome, in the Capitoline Museums, for the first time ever.  

Da Vinci’s “Codex on the Flight of Birds” manuscript is usually held in the Royal Library in Turin. It is where he wrote down – and illustrated – all his observations on the flight of birds, turning them into a veritable science on flight which became the basis for his designs for flying machines.

His analysis of the flight of birds was carried out in a strictly mechanical fashion complete with plans, notes and drawings detailing the physiognomy of birds, air resistance and air currents.


Da Vinci’s codex comprises 18 folios and two covers.  In addition to notes on the flight of birds, the pages contain explanations on how to coin medals and prepare colours.  The written pages are accompanied by a series of accurate drawings: winged animals (kites being the most represented bird), geometric shapes, mechanical and architectural drawings.
 Seven drawings of plants and people in sanguine (red chalk) make the Codex even more valuable.

The pages of the Codex contain a mystery.  Folio 10v seems to reveal a self-portrait of da Vinci himself.  It was when the Codex was displayed during an exhibition of da Vinci’s works at the Royal Hunting Lodge in Turin that the science journalist, Piero Angelo, pointed out the close resemblance of this face to the most famous self-portrait of the Master that was part of a 2015 exhibition hosted by the Capitoline Museums.

The journalist made use of the sophisticated technology used by police forensic experts (RIS) from Parma to electronically age the face in the manuscript, evincing in this way, the similarity between the two.

The Codex is displayed in a specially made clima box that maintains the ideal level of relative humidity whilst still allowing visitors to admire the work in its entirety.  Multi-media touch screen equipment makes it possible to scroll through and navigate the manuscript in high definition virtuality as well as to “read” it thanks to a transcript in both Italian and English. The exhibition is further enriched by a few anastatic (print from etched zinc plate) copies of the Codex, foremost of which is a valuable French edition dating to the end of the 19th century, all also usually held by the Royal Library of Turin.

The TeCIP Institute, which is part of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and a partner in the organization of the exhibition, contributed the specially made multi-medial material and 3D images that enable the public to get an idea of the prototypes da Vinci designed.  Experiencing the images has a profound emotional impact on visitors as they explore the Tuscan master’s genius ideas.

The Italian Space Agency has also provided the exhibition with an installation that revisits the most important milestones in manned and robotic space flights including the Exomars missions to the red planet, the Vega satellite launches and the manning of the International Space Station.

Thanks to the technology used, visitors will have the feeling, for a few minutes, that they have left reality behind them and find themselves back in space and time, becoming acquainted with what it was that the Tuscan genius had hoped the people of his era would experience for themselves. 


Musei Capitolini
, Palazzo Caffarelli
Opening hours

January 21 - May 7, 2017 
Open daily, from 9.30 to 19.30;
Last admission 1 hour before closing time

N.B For eventual openings/closures please visit the page dedicated to the announcements

Entrance ticket

Every first Sunday of the month free admission for residents in Rome and in the metropolitan city area. 

Regular Fees including the exhibitions "Leonardo da Vinci and the Flight. The original Codex manuscript as a multi-medial and 3D experience (until 7 May)","Michelangelo capolavori ritrovati (22 April - 7 May)" : 
Adults: € 15,00 
Concessions: € 13,00 
Roman Citizens only (by showing a valid ID): 
Adults: € 13,00;
Concessions: € 11,00;

Capitolini Card (valid 7 days) "Capitoline Museums + Centrale Montemartini + exhibitions ("Leonardo da Vinci and the Flight. The original Codex manuscript as a multi-medial and 3D experience (until 7 May)","Michelangelo capolavori ritrovati (22 April - 7 May)")" combined ticket: 
Adults: € 16,00;
Concessions: € 14,00; 
Roman Citizens only (by showing a vaild ID): 
Adults: € 15,00;
Concessions: € 13,00;

Concessions and free admission

Tickets can be purchased with also credit cards and ATM.



Online tickets
Just show your printed receipt at turnstiles of the Capitoline Museums and the Ara Pacis Museum; no need to go to the ticket office.

Audio and video guides
Video guides in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian: € 6.00;
Audio guides for children (recommended age: 6-12 years) in Italian and English: € 4,00.


+39 060608 (every day from 9:00 to 19:00)

Other information

Claudio Giorgione e Giovanni Saccani

Promoted by
Roma Capitale - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

In cooperation with
MasterCard Priceless Rome

Media patner
Il Messaggero

Security service
Travis Group

Organized by
Zètema Progetto Cultura

Web site
Giovanni Saccani e Claudio Giorgione

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