Moaning over Lisa’s bones – the bones of ‘Mona Lisa’ to be exhumed in Florence

Mona Lisa - will her true identity be revealed?

The Mona Lisa, presenting in the Musèe du Lourve, is labelled as the ‘Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo’*, the title giving quite a good indication of the supposed identity of the Mona Lisa.

Art historian Silvano Vinceti recently claimed that Leonardo’s famous Renaissance painting is actually predominantly a portrait of  the artist’s male apprentice, Gian Ciacomo Capriotti (nicknamed Salai).

Vinceti also credits the face to being inspired by Beatrice D’Este, a noblewoman married to the owner of the court in Milan (Duke Ludovico Sforza) where Leonardo was working prior to starting on the Mona Lisa.

Others claim that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of the artist himself. It has also been claimed that poor ol’ Lisa is not quite attractive enough to not be a portrait, otherwise Leonardo would surely have made Lisa better looking!

In Florence, where art is certainly taken very seriously, drastic measures are being taken to solve the mystery. The bones of Lisa Gherardini are to be exhumed, tested for DNA (to be compared to her know ancestors to prove it is indeed Lisa) and high-tech facial reconstruction will take place all in the attempt to solve one of the art world’s biggest mysteries.

Not only technology, but also bad filing has made this possible as Lisa Gherardini’s death certificate was discovered just several years ago which stated her death (in 1542) and burial location, the Saint Ursula convent in Florence.

As to where the ‘Mona’ comes from, it’s the Italian version of ‘ma’am’, coming from a shortened version of the Italian for ‘my lady’, with ‘donna’ being woman/lady in Italian (think, ‘Madonna’ – which in Italian traditionally refers to the Virgin Mary not the singer of ‘Like a Virgin’!).

If you’d like to see some of Leonardo da Vinci’s artworks with an art-expert tour guide, we have a skip-the-line tour of Florence’s famous museum, the Uffizi Gallery, with a small-group.

You can also choose to have this guided Uffizi Gallery tour with a private guide.

For a private art tour with a twist, our expert tour guide can take you on the search for a lost Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, “La battaglia di Anghiari”, lost for over five centuries as you become part of another great Da Vinci mystery!

Take this experience to a whole other level by visiting  a world-heritage listed landmark with the world’s leading art sleuth to track down the last truly great art mystery. In a case of life imitating art, our tour guide is also an internationally-renowned and erudite art detective who also happens to be the only real person mentioned in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’.

In Rome, we have a guided small-group, skip-the-line tour of the Vatican where you can see more of Leonardo Da Vinci’s works.

You can also have our guide all to yourself on this skip-the-line private guided tour of the Vatican.

There are many more things to do, as you can see on our website You can also email for further information.

You can see where the maker of the Mona Lisa (and, incidentally, the David) worked and played, see where Leonardo da Vinci tested his historic flying machine and the shaded hillside stone works where Michelangelo learned his craft on our Perfect Morning in Tuscany tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide (

* The title also gives a clue as to why the Italians know the Mona Lisa as ‘La Gioconda’ – which also means ‘the playful one’, owing to the somewhat mischievous smile worn by the painting’s subject.

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