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Good News for Laterina

Updated: May 20, 2023

The mystery behind a stone bridge depicted in the Mona Lisa has finally been solved, with an art historian identifying it as a crumbling ruin on the banks of a Tuscany river.

Mona Lisa painting
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

The painting has been definitively identified to depict Italian noblewoman Lisa del Giocondo and it is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic and has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

Whilst Mona Lisa's face is often described as enigmatic, the possible location of the bridge featured in the painting has, perhaps until now, eluded researchers and art historians. But, drones and painstaking sleuthing have been used to match the bridge featured in the background of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting (in the bottom right hand corner) to a real one spanning the Arno River near the village of Laterina.

All that remains of the Romito bridge today is a single arch, after it was badly damaged, probably by flooding, in the 18th century.

A digital reconstruction has shown it would have had four arches, just like the one in the portrait. On the opposite side of the riverbank, the foundations of what would have been the fourth arch can still be seen in the undergrowth.

The findings could transform the fortunes of tiny Laterina, where the bridge crosses the river Arno. Simona Neri, the local mayor, hopes the discovery - if confirmed - could encourage tourism.

The claim about the bridge was made by Silvano Vinceti, a historian who has written several books about Da Vinci.



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