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What is Mona Lisa smiling about?

Here at Siena Ristorante Toscana, we don’t just love Tuscan cuisine and wines. We all love all things Tuscan, including its many famous Renaissance artists.

This fall, we’ve been enjoying Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the Tuscan Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci (titled simply Leonardo da Vinci).

The book reminded us of the painter’s iconic painting, which is known in English as the “Mona Lisa.”

The word mona meant madonna in Renaissance Italian, literally, my lady (mia donna).

The subject for “My Lady Lisa” is believed to have been Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. And that’s where the painting gets its other name, La gioconda, which means the jolly (or gay) lady. You might think that she’s called gioconda because of her enigmatic smile. But the name actually comes from her family name.

So what’s she smiling about anyway? And is she smiling at all?

One thing we’ve learned about Leonardo da Vinci as we read the new biography is that he, his life, and his works are a never-ending mystery.

Buon weekend a tutti! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Image via the Wikipedia entry for the Mona Lisa (Creative Commons).

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