01:59 GMT13 April 2021
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    Two Italian researchers say they have identified 35 people who are likely to be the living descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance master, artist, inventor and author of the mysterious Mona Lisa, even though his remains have been missing since the 16th century. It took them 43 years.

    After four decades of searching, two Italian researchers, Alessandro Vezzosi, Leonardo scholar and director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, and Agnese Sabato, historian and president of the Leonardo da Vinci association, say they have tracked down 35 indirect descendants of the Renaissance master, even though his remains went missing in the 16th century during religious wars.

    The Renaissance master, engineer, mathematician, philosopher and naturalist died in 1519 in Amboise, France.

    Historians say they have recreated 15 generations of Da Vinci's genealogy even though the absence of remains meant they had no access to his DNA.

    The team used the documents left by Da Vinci’s grandfather, Antonio, as a starting point since the artist left no known children.

    Antonio recorded Leonardo’s birth, indicating his son Ser Piero as Leonardo’s father, without any mention of his mother.

    Historians, however, found in one of Antonio’s notes dated 1457, some indications that Leonardo’s mother could be Caterina, the wife of Achattabriga di Piero del Vaccha da Vinci.

    “We checked documents and tombs as far as France and Spain,” Vezzosi told the website Discovery News. “We even found an unknown tomb of Leonardo’s family in Vinci."

    Leonardo’s potential descendants are all living around Florence and nearby villages such as Empoli and Vinci.

    They include a baker, a policeman, an accountant, a retired blacksmith and Oscar-nominated director Franco Zeffirelli.

    One of the alleged descendants is Giovanni Calosi, who told La Stampa that his mother used to talk of having documents and letters that were written backwards and could only be read in a mirror, recalling Leonardo’s use of mirrored script.

    “I heard this story about our Da Vinci blood from my mother, but our family believed it was a legend," Giovanni Calosi told Discovery News.

    “We never gave any importance to those documents, which were lost or sold," said Calosi. "What we thought was a legend passed down through generations turns out to be the truth."



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