ROME (CBS/AP) — Centuries later, researchers still want to know exactly who was the model behind that famous Mona Lisa smile.

Italian excavators say they will dig up bones in a Florence convent in hopes of identifying the remains of a Renaissance woman long believed to be the model for the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

CBS News Correspondent Sabina Castlefranco tells KNX 1070 even with carbon dating and DNA extraction, it’s unclear if researchers will even find the tombs containing the remains.

The researchers hope that the project, which was launched on Tuesday, can help answer some of the enduring mysteries surrounding Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, including whether the woman, Lisa Gherardini, was indeed the model.

Project leader Silvano Vinceti said the excavations in the Convent of St. Ursula, in central Florence, are scheduled to begin at the end of April.

Lisa Gherardini was the wife of a rich silk merchant named Francesco del Giocondo.

Tradition has long linked her to the painting, which in Italian is known as “La Gioconda.”

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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