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The mistery of Caravaggio’s body

Mysteries & Legends

The mistery of Caravaggio’s body

Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, which was the town in the Province of Bergamo he came from, lived a life nothing short of adventurous. In fact, it seems that on top of being a great artist - the reason his reputation has reached the present day - he was also a 'hothead'. As expected, the death of somebody regarded as a 'damned painter' could not fail to be shrouded in much mystery.

We know for certain that, in July 1610, he set off from Naples on a boat carrying three of his paintings and with these he was supposed to arrive in Porto Ercole. Mistaken for a criminal near Rome, he had to abandon his boat with his paintings and continued on foot. He reached Porto Ercole exhausted and, contrary to a long-standing belief, didn’t disappear into thin air but instead died there. Surely, the legend of the mysterious disappearance was definitely more fascinating and in line with his personality. However, there still remain two mysteries to solve: the cause of his death and the whereabouts of his body.

Establishing the cause of his death was not possible without a body to examine. But several extravagant conjectures had been brought forward: syphilis, a fatal sunstroke and, most likely, poisoning caused by paint lead. In 1956, however, bones were found during excavations in a garden in Porto Ercole, some of which are believed to belong to Caravaggio. An expert team was able to identify the artist’s remains using carbon dating and DNA testing. Was it really his body? Well... yes, more or less! There was an 85% match with the DNA of some folks from Bergamo with the same surname. Clearly there is no real scientific evidence, but people in Porto Ercole have no doubts this story corresponds to the truth. A memorial has actually been built housing the 'coveted' skeleton. Meanwhile, there remains another mystery to solve: where did the paintings on the boat end up? See you in the next episode…!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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