Tomb opened to find Mona Lisa

Sunday World - - News -

FLORENCE: Re­searchers have opened a cen­turies-old tomb in a search for re­mains that could con­firm the iden­tity of the woman whose enig­matic smile Leonardo da Vinci im­mor­talised in the Mona Lisa, one of the world’s most fa­mous paint­ings.

On Fri­day, a round hole, just big enough for a per­son to wrig­gle through, was cut in the stone church floor above the fam­ily crypt of Floren­tine silk mer­chant Francesco del Gio­condo, whose wife, Lisa Gher­ar­dini, is thought to have sat for the Re­nais­sance mas­ter in the early 16th cen­tury.

The­o­ries abound about who the real Mona Lisa was, but Sil­vano Vinceti, a writer and re­searcher who heads Italy’s National Com­mit­tee for the Pro­mo­tion of His­toric and Cul­tural Her­itage, plans to test DNA in the bones and try to match it with those of three women buried at a con­vent nearby.

His­to­ri­ans say Gher­ar­dini whose mar­ried name, Gio­conda, is used in Italy to re­fer to the Mona Lisa spent her last years at the Saint Or­sola con­vent, where the hunt for her bones be­gan last year.

Once a DNA match is made, Vinceti said, an im­age of Gher­ar­dini’s face could be gen­er­ated from the Saint Or­sola skull and com­pared with the paint­ing.

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