MONA LISA: ‘Tis the season to be Jolly as ‘La Gioconda’ plays tricks on us again!

Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork of Mona Lisa is possibly one of the most intriguing and debated art works in history.

And the theories and ‘findings’ are almost as wonderful as the artwork itself – especially the latest one to emerge this week.

Just who was she? What lies behind this woman’s enigmatic smile? Is there some hidden meaning behind this seemingly straightforward portrait?

These are the questions that have plagued scholars and artists for centuries.

It has been claimed that Mona Lisa is actually Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘friend’, Gian Ciacomo Capriotti (nicknamed Salai).

Then there are claims that noblewoman Beatrice D’Este inspired the artist. Some think the world’s most famous smirk is because the work is really a self-portrait of da Vinci himself!

Whoever it is, luckily poor ‘Lisa’ is not around to hear the theory that it must be a real portrait because the only reason an artist would paint such a less-than-beautiful face is if it were a real subject he were depicting. Ouch!

So intense is the intrigue over who she really is that a search for Mona Lisa’s bones is presently underway.

The latest discovery concerning the Mona Lisa is even more crazy – or should that be, bananas? Turn the Mona Lisa on its side, and there at her right shoulder is the form of an ape.

And a lion. And a buffalo. And possibly a snake or crocodile are in there too – a veritable zoo!

To make this animal discovery was New York artist Ron Piccirillo. Whilst he believed this would be the greatest art theory to emerge in the last 500 years, art historians and scholars seem somewhat less than taken with the theory.

The complete title of the painting, completed around 1503–1519, seems to leave little doubt as to who the enigmatic Mona Lisa was: ‘Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo’.

In Italian, the Mona Lisa is known as ‘La Gioconda ‘ – a play on her married name, which just happens to translate to something akin to ‘the jolly/playful one’. And despite the many new theories that continue to emerge, it is yet still she who has the last laugh.

If you’d like to see some other 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.

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 on the Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour.

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

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