It the year 1973 the Florence Rotary Club, approaching the 50th anniversary of its foundation, decided to found a prize to be awarded to young scholars who intended, also with the aid of the prize, to continue their studies and work  in their particular field even though they had already acquired special merit. To confirm the precise intention of making the prize open to every artistic,  scientific and literary discipline, it was decided to name it after Leonardo da Vinci, who symbolizes the most elevated expressions of the human spirit and whose genius has left profound marks in many fields of knowledge and culture.
Inspired by the universally renowned figure of Leonardo, it was decided to render the prize appropriate to one of the main Rotarian vocations, that of internationality seeking and obtaining the ready, enthusiastic adherence of  other European Rotary Clubs. The first was the Tours Rotary Club which is in  the region where Leonardo ended his days, followed by the Rotary Clubs of  Athens and Vienna. Thus the prize, which was inspired by the greatest cultural  intentions, is formed of links initially shaped in light of the knowledge and culture of Athens, then the civilizations of the Florentine and French Renaissances and finally the culture of Central Europe with Vienna as its capital.

At the end of 1974 this “INTERNATIONAL LEONARDO DA VINCI AWARD” was founded. A special commission of the President of Florence  Rotary Club, promoter of the prize, and composed of the Presidents of Athens, Tours and Vienna Rotary Clubs had provided, among other things, precise statuary  characteristics: the amount to be awarded to the winner at the time was to be two million lire or its equivalent in foreign currency. Today the amount is approximately ten thousand euros. The awarding of the prize takes place annually in the cities of the participating Rotary Clubs.