April 06, 2011
FLORENCE - Grave hunters, centuries-old mysteries, and historical records spread out across Europe. Da Vinci's ghosts are there too. This is not a Dan Brown novel, though. In Florence, Italian researchers have undertaken the hunt for the remains of Mona Lisa, the woman who was the model for Leonardo da Vinci's "La Gioconda," the most famous and most analyzed picture of all time. This week, members of Italy's respected National Historical and Cultural Preservation Committee have launched an official project to find the famous lady's grave.
There are many bizarre theories about Mona Lisa's real identity. Some believe she was Isabella d'Este, the Marchesa of Mantua, who had begged the master for a portrait. Others have suggested Isabella Gualanda, who was a favorite of Giuliano de" Medici, co-ruler of Florence with his brother Lorenzo the Magnificent. And then there are those who think she was Leonardo's mother, or even Leonardo himself. According to this theory, he portrayed himself as a woman as a hidden reference to his own homosexuality.
But others think that there is no mystery at all. Historian Giuseppe Pallanti wrote in his well-documented book "Mona Lisa Revealed – The True Identity of Leonardo's Model," that all these guesses are useless. In the mid-16th century, Giorgio Vasari may have provided the solution to the mystery in his encyclopedia of artistic biographies entitled "Lives."
"Leonardo undertook to paint, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa. He struggled for four years, and then he left it unfinished," Vasari wrote. The artist is believed to have worked on the painting from 1503 to 1506.
According to Vasari, La Gioconda was the noblewoman Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, who was the heir of one of most important families in Florence. Francesco's family worked in silk wholesale in Italy and France, and had a close relation with Leonardo's father, the notary Sir Piero.
Vasari knew Francesco del Giocondo's home quite well, which should leave little doubt about identification. Researchers have also found a note written in the German town of Heidelberg by Agostino Vespucci, who was an assistant to Niccolò Machiavelli. Vespucci wrote that Leonardo was as talented "as the Greek painter, Apelles," in portraying the Florentine.
According to some accounts, Lisa Gherardini was born in 1479. In 1538, after her husband's death, she entered a convent where she died a few years later. "On July 15 1542, she died and was buried in Sant" Orsola," reads the parish registry. The hunt for her grave will therefore start from this ancient convent.
The crypt, the cloister and the church will be explored. When (and if) her remains are found, they will be carbon-dated and the DNA examined. The researchers hope to hit the jackpot: finding her skull. It would allow them to reconstruct her facial features – as had happened with the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. A three-dimensional model could be compared to Leonardo's portrait in the Louvre.
There is, however, another disturbing possibility. Last October, the English journalist Chris Johnson, editor of Mercury Press Agency Ltd, wrote an article quoting Pallanti who said that Sant'Orsola tombs were excavated in the 80s to build an underground car garage. All the rubbish and debris were taken to a landfill site. Could the last resting place of the Mona Lisa be a local garbage dump?
Read the original article in Italian
photo - (uhuru)
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 18, 2021
Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.
[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.
• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.
• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.
• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.
• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.
• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.
• Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good
Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials
.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."
— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.
📈💥 IN OTHER NEWS
Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians
The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:
⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.
☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.
🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.
Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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