A descendant of the Italian noblewoman thought to have inspired the Mona Lisa insisted her remains should be left in peace Wednesday as archaeologists began searching for her tomb.
Experts began examining the site of a former convent in Florence, where they hope to find the body of Lisa Gherardini Del Giocondo, the wife of a rich Italian silk merchant and the woman who many historians believe was the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting.
A team led by Italian art historian Silvano Vinceti are using a ground-penetrating “georadar” device to search for Giocondo’s tomb, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.
If they find enough of her remains, Vinceti is hopeful of reconstructing part of her face so it can be compared to the Mona Lisa to determine whether she really was the inspiration for the portrait, which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris.
The search centers on the crumbling three-story Saint Orsola church building that dates back to 1309 that once housed the convent where it is believed Giocondo died in 1542 at age 63. The building in central Italy became a tobacco factory in the 19th century and more recently a barracks to house refugees.
But not everyone shares Vinceti’s enthusiasm.
Natalia Guicciardini Strozzi, a member of one of Florence’s oldest noble families — and a direct descendant of Giocondo — has attacked the latest bid to unearth the secrets of the Mona Lisa and its enigmatic smile, ANSA said.
“It seems to me an act of sacrilege and not very appropriate,” said Strozzi, an actress and winemaker. ” Let my ancestor rest in peace.”
(Source: caraobrien, via )