New theory on Mona Lisa

  • The Guardian, Tom Kington, Rome
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 11, 2011 01:54 IST

A small town in northern Italy is basking in new-found celebrity after an Italian art historian claimed it featured in the background of the world's most famous painting - Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

A bridge and a road glimpsed over the shoulder of the Mona Lisa, often believed to be imaginary, belong to Bobbio in northern Italy, according to Carla Glori, who says that a numerical code recently discovered on the canvas backs her conclusions.

"The twisting road from the painting can be found there, as is the arched bridge that Da Vinci would have seen from the windows of the town's castle," said Glori. She reached her conclusion while investigating the possibility that Bianca Giovanna Sforza, the daughter of Ludovico Sforza, the 15th century duke of Milan, sat for Da Vinci, and not Lisa del Giocondo in Florence, as is widely believed.

A group of Italian researchers last year claimed that Da Vinci had painted the number 72 in tiny figures under an arch of the bridge, a reference Glori said is  to 1472, when the bridge was almost destroyed by flooding before being rebuilt.

But Silvano Vinceti, the head of researchers, said he believed the number was instead a veiled reference to the mystical theories Da Vinci picked up on in Florence.


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