- The uncertainty of the bridge in the background of the Mona Lisa takes another turn as an Italian historian claims to have evidence of the true bridge.
- The Romito di Laterina bridge near Laterina in the Tuscany region is distinctive because of its arches and flow of the Arno River it spans.
- Piecing together old records, photographs, and measurements of the site, the historian believes he’s found the true Mona Lisa bridge.
Every detail of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has undergone dissection. Much of that scrutiny has led to more questions than answers about the true identities revealed in the early 16th century painting. Now, Italian historian Silvano Vinceti believes he’s solved one of the biggest mysteries of the famed painting: the location of the bridge in the backdrop.
Speaking at a media conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Vinceti put the town of Laterina in the spotlight, saying the unknown bridge is really the Romito di Laterina bridge. “The distinctive form of the Arno [River] along that stretch of territory corresponds to what Leonardo portrayed in the landscape to the left of the woman depicted in the famous painting,” he says, according to CNN.
The announcement came with certainty from Vinceti, saying the Romito is “unmistakably” the bridge from the painting now hanging in the Louvre in Paris.
More From Popular Mechanics
But more than the flow of the Arno, Vinceti had other visual aids to accompany his theory, which puts the Ponte Buriano bridge, just a few miles from the Romito, out in the cold as the previously believed official Mona Lisa bridge. And the theory about the Ponte Bobbio bridge, well north of the area in question, now takes a distant third place in Mona Lisa bridge theory.
Vinceti’s claims come backed with investigations into the Romito, tied closely to the actual depiction in the painting. The Mona Lisa bridge has four arches, which Vinceti says was likely the case for the Romito, although only one arch remains from the ruined bridge. Basing his calculations off the surviving arch and using drones to measure the span and foundations, he surmises four arches were an ideal match for the span. The Ponte Buriano has six arches and the Ponte Bobbio even more.
He added that documents in Florence’s state archives showed the bridge as an active route connecting Arezzo, Fiesole, and Florence between 1501 and 1503, the same years da Vinci lived in the Fiesole region and around the time he’s believed to have painted the work, according to The Guardian.
The news was met with excitement from people in the town of about 3,500 residents, according to Simona Neri, Laterina’s mayor. But down the road in Buriano, residents may not take the findings well. The town has marketed itself to tourists as the home of the Mona Lisa bridge, with plenty of signs around the area. At least it’s a short trip between the two rival towns.
Tim Newcomb is a journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. He covers stadiums, sneakers, gear, infrastructure, and more for a variety of publications, including Popular Mechanics. His favorite interviews have included sit-downs with Roger Federer in Switzerland, Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, and Tinker Hatfield in Portland.