Italian princess ancestor of 'Mona Lisa' says remains should be left in peace

The Italian princess ancestor of the women believed to have inspired the Mona Lisa has said her remains should be left in peace as archaeologists began the hunt for her body.

Natalia Guicciardini Strozzi, a member of one of Florence's oldest noble families, said that searching for and exhuming the remains of Lisa Gherardini was "a sacrilegious act".

Gherardini was the wife of a rich Florentine silk merchant and is believed by many art historians to have been the model for Leonardo da Vinci's best known painting, which today hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

A team of Italian researchers began the hunt for her skeleton beneath a convent in Florence, using ground-penetrating radar to search for evidence of old tombs.

They hope to find Gherardini's remains and to gather enough skull fragments to be able to reconstruct her face.....

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