Florence researchers are about to excavate the bones of the woman they believe served as the model for Mona Lisa. Their hope is that facial reconstruction will prove once and for all if Lisa Gherardini was the subject of the Leonarda da Vinci portrait that has mesmerized viewers for centuries. The painting has long also been known as La Gioconda, linking it to Gherardini's husband, Francesco del Giocondo, who commissioned da Vinci to paint his wife.
Digging will begin later this month at a convent in central Florence where Gherardini was buried in 1542,
The team will be led by Silvano Vinceti, an art historian who last year announced that he had found the remains of the Renaissance genius Caravaggio, although his claim was disputed by other scholars.
The team will use ground-penetration radar to search for forgotten tombs inside the building. If they discover human remains, they will sift through the bones to identify any that are compatible with a woman of Gherardini's age,