Visitors look at a portrait drawing of Italian Renaissance painter, scientist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci during a permanent exhibition on Da Vinci, on the exact day commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death, in Rome, Thursday, May 2, 2019....
Visitors look at a portrait drawing of Italian Renaissance painter, scientist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci during a permanent exhibition on Da Vinci, on the exact day commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death, in Rome, Thursday, May 2, 2019....

ROME - Events have begun in Italy and France to celebrate the Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vince on the 500th anniversary of his death. In his Tuscan hometown, Italian experts presented a lock of hair believed to belong to the artist, which they announced would undergo DNA testing.

For the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death on Thursday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella traveled to France where he met his counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Together the heads of state paid homage to the Italian genius by laying wreaths at his grave at the Amboise Chateau in the Loire Valley, and visiting the Clos Luce manor house where the artist lived during the last three years of his life.

Ginevra de' Benci, original portrait painting by L
Tourists take pictures of Ginevra de' Benci, the original portrait painting by Leonardo da Vinci of the 15th-century Florentine aristocratic teenager. The National Gallery of Art in Washington bought it in 1967 for $5 million, a huge price at the time. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet)

Tensions arose in recent months between Italy and France over a request by France for some of Leonardo’s works to be loaned by Italy for an exhibit at the Louvre later this year.

But President Mattarella made clear during his visit that Italy and France have historical ties and a solid friendship.

In Italy, exhibits about da Vinci are being planned all over the country. In his home town of Vinci, an exhibit called “Leonardo Lives” opened Thursday. Ahead of the opening, Italian experts presented what they said is a lock of hair from the artist and announced they would carry out a DNA test on the specimen.

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They said the relic known as "Les Cheveux de Leonardo da Vinci" had been hidden until now in an American collection. The experts also produced documents they said are evidence the lock of hair comes from ancient France.

Additional exhibits about the artist, scientist and inventor are being held at the Rome airport, which is called Leonardo Da Vinci, Milan, Turin, Florence and Venice. At the Vatican Museums a special exhibition is being held featuring Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished painting “St. Jerome in the Wilderness.”

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Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, said that after two years, the restoration of the ancient tapestry that was inspired by da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” also has been completed for this anniversary and is now on display for the public to admire.

Also, to mark the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death, Italy has issued 300,000 cards with four new philatelic stamps, which were printed using well-known drawings and paintings by the artist, including the drawing of an eye, the “Adoration of the Magi”, the “Portrait of a Musician” and the head of a young girl known at the “Scapiliata.”