He became renowned for the very innovative devices he used for the rebuilding of the towers belonging to the noble families of the city. Between 1458 and 1467 he worked at Florence for Cosimo de' Medici the Elder and at Milan, before returning to his native city. Here he created the plans for the Palazzo Bentivoglio, but the edifice was not finished (by Giovanni II Bentivoglio) until 1484-1494. In 1467 he worked for king Matthias Corvinus in Hungary.
In 1475 at the invitation of Ivan III he went to Russia, and built the magnificent Assumption Cathedral (Uspensky Sobor, also known as Dormition Cathedral) in Moscow from 1475-1479, taking inspiration from the eponymous cathedral in Vladimir. This is the work he is best remembered for.
According to some accounts, he was thrown into prison by Ivan III when he asked to return to Italy, and died in captivity. According to other accounts, he participated as a military engineer and artillery commander in the campaigns against Novgorod (1477-1478), Kazan (1482) and Tver (1485).