The prince, the PM and the Mona Lisa





Two Tuscan beauties have given a tantalising clue as to why Tony Blair cannot resist returning to the hospitality of Prince Girolamo Guicciardini Strozzi outside San Gimignano.

The home of the prince, a professor of international law, has a swimming pool and tennis court, and the estate is comfortingly buried in dense woods.

But perhaps what really keeps the Prime Minister coming back are the enigmatic yet strangely familiar smiles radiating from the prince's two charming daughters, Natalia and Irina. Because now an Italian genealogy expert, Domenico Savini, has revealed that the Strozzi family descends directly from Lisa Gherardini, otherwise known as Mona Lisa.

"It's a matter of great emotion and great pride to learn that we are descended from La Gioconda," said Natalia Strozzi, 30, an actress. The subject of Leonardo's most famous painting is known as "La Gioconda" in Italy. "We had a vague knowledge of this family story, but the fact that it's been documented proves that it is true, which makes us take it more seriously." And what about the celebrated smile? "Yes," she went on, "once in a while a smile like that flits across our father's face, and that's the most convincing proof there is."

Italian researchers have been closing in on Mona Lisa in recent weeks. Not only have her descendants (by the female line) been identified in the Strozzi family, but one of the most tenacious Leonardo researchers, Giuseppe Pallanti, claims to have unearthed church documents proving beyond doubt where she lived and died.



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