January 16, 2008

Mona Lisa's Smile Re-veiled

'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.’

What’s the secret behind Monalisa's smile, everyone asks? Lisa del Giocondo, wife of Florentine businessman Francesco del Giocondo – uncovers a researcher, who apparently has evidence behind the identity of the woman behind Mona Lisa's iconic smile. So what’s the evidence everyone asks? Well, some book-margin notes written by a friend of Leonardo da Vinci while the artist worked on the masterpiece.

So, why am I so interested in this? I spent days...tracing the house of Mona Lisa in Florence, the place where she modeled for Leonardo Da Vinci and also where she was reportedly buried and it was no easy task.

October 2007, Florence, with just a list of places mentioned in history and some deeply buried records obtained from Google search, I set out to discover Sant'Orsola. With no Italian to help, I spent 2 days trying unsuccessfully, to trace the place.

Finally, a broken sign board, hidden behind a shop gave me some direction to where Mona Lisa was supposedly buried.


I couldn’t believe my luck whenI stood at the Convent of Sant'Orsola, where Mona Lisa spent her final years before she died in July 15, 1542. But to my discovery, I found there standing, nothing more than a mall.

After the first milestone, my curiosity grew – it was time to find her birthplace – which, according to many websites was a place just across the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge. A walk over the bridge was awesome - A sheet of paper in my hand read out the documentary of Leonardo's scholar, Giuseppe Pallanti, which spoke of Mona Lisa being born in a house that once stood in Via Sguazza, a side street of Via Maggio, where Florence's antiques dealers do their trade.


Interestingly, I was in a different world while I walked through the thin lanes of old Florence where, I, at once, spotted the closed down and battered house, where the most talked about, most visited and the most analyzed beauty with the secretive smile was once born.


Was it only me who was experiencing this different feeling? Did it really matter to those, who live in these lanes? To my surprise, most of them were not even interested in Mona Lisa or the great maestro Leonardo, whereas for me, this trip to Florence was a walk through and back in history.

11 comments:

mridula said...

Reading news stories is one thing and getting first hand account of people's experiences, quite another. I prefer the second one and considering I am myself a journalist, it is a compliment! It was wonderful to see those pics of the lane, the house and ur commentary on how u got there. Congrats on making the journey.

journalist said...

Thank you so much for the comment. Beleive me it was an experience of life time. When you go to Florence you realise what a genius Leonardo was though - i never had my doubts on his talents...

pawan said...

If only Monalisa could read this. The smile would simply widen.
Good post. A good account of a traveller and ofcourse, a journalist.

pawan said...

If only Monalisa could read this. The smile would simply widen.
Good post. A good account of a traveller and ofcourse, a journalist.

Sapna said...

hey.. an interesting journey to undertake.. makes for a good read.. can't believe such indifference in maintenance of such an historically important place..

Titir said...

You made history come alive for me.For people who may never visist those hallowed lanes,steeped in history,it was a rare glimpse at the past.I envy you!!

Madhur said...

Sir this is Interesting to say the least, also the historians beieve that from the Fontana Trevi there is a line that goes straight to the grave of Leonardo is that correct????
Florence must have been beautiful

journalist said...

Yes Florence is really beautiful....and especially the old city- across ponte vecchio bridge - the scene is awestrucking.......i loved it more than the over crowded venice......

Khushbu said...

reading your post makes me want to go there and relive what you saw... and experienced... :) and fall in love ;-) hmmm with the place.... and not just the thought... had Leonardo been alive... He would have been touched with just the thought of someone going all out to trace his footsteps that made sense to him at one point of time.

Alter Ego said...

Wow so good see those pictures..atlast someone who went beyond 'sight seeing' and tried to explore a new place unlike all the tourists..and with success!..congrats.

swats.... said...

you sound like an investigator!!! i could actually visualise you having the map in ur hand, trying to break the clues and find something unusual...wow...nice one dinesh!