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TODAY   |  August 09, 2013

DNA test to prove real identity of Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world. Now historians want to do a DNA test on the bones of a woman they believe inspired the masterpiece. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> davinci's masterpiece the mona lisa cap evacuated everybody that looked at her. michelle is at the louvre to explain. good morning.

>> this is her home and people are always amazed how small this painting is and how incredibly alive she looks. well, this morning in italy, an old crypt is being opened to help see if the real mona lisa really was who historians think she was.

>> reporter: how much does the world want to know just whose smile the mona lisa so delicated captured after these 500 years? enough to open a century's old grave in florence this morning holding the two sons of a merchant's wife who historians believe he painted in the early 15 hundreds. they want a dna test to see if some of these bones piering out through earth and time in a grave might really be hers. then they could do a reconstruction of her face and see what she looks like.

>> there's speculation in all sorts of ways, psychologically, historically, personally. all that's really known is that leonardo didn't hand it over . he worked on it slowly. it became something that obsessed him.

>> maybe the only people not obsessed with these are princesses at the palace and thousand year old winery in the quite tus can country side .

>> for us, it's quite clear.

>> they are 15th generation direct descendants of lisa. maybe even look like her.

>> our smiles are too big. we can't do it.

>> you can't stop smiling long enough.

>> but to them, no history. their family history and exiting documents tell them the mona lisa is their lisa. at first the excavations bothered them but now they too have caught the fascination.

>> we are curious to see how she really looked and how good was leonardo at painting her.

>> the latest of the mona lisa lean toward the scientific. doctors wondering if her mouth was closed because she was missing her front teeth or maybe she they turned black if he was getting treatment for syphilis. now this will tell us more about the real woman behind this immortal work of art, savannah.

>> michelle kosinski in paris. i have to say, i didn't see the syphilis angle coming. why don't you give us your feelings in french.

>> you put me on the spot. i can't do that right now.

>> can you say anything in french? [ speaking french ]

>> not enough for the segment. you could have given me a heads up on that. i would have got my french translation app.

>> you're telling me your fluent in french.