35 living descendants of Leonardo Da Vinci’s family have been identified. Although Da Vinci didn’t have any children, a project – started in 1973 – sort to create his family tree starting from the children of his siblings. Art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato, from the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci, have been putting the pieces together for the past 40 years. The museum, in Leonardo’s hometown, Vinci in Tuscany, was founded by scholars and artists to study the complexity of Da Vinci as artist, scientist, inventor and designer.
Their research took them to France and Spain, and among the 35 descendants they traced is director Franco Zeffirelli.
Zeffirelli is an invented name meaning ‘little breezes’ because as he was born out of an affair between his mother and Ottorino Corsi, from Vinci, and both of them were married, he couldn’t be given either of their names. His mother was inspired by the name of her favourite aria: “Zeffiretti lusinghieri” from Mozart’s Idomeneo.
The Corsi family were in Vinci for generations. Zeffirelli now lives in Rome but most of the 35 descendants still live in Tuscany.