Did you know Florence is the birthplace of the Mona Lisa? Indeed both the masterwork by Da Vinci and its subject, Lisa del Giocondo, have their origins in the city of Florence. The enigmatic Lisa del Giocondo was a member of an old Florentine family and the model for the painting that was begun in 1503 or 1504 in Florence. The painting was eventually given by Da Vinci to King Francis I of France, which explains how it ended up in Paris.
However, in 1911, an Italian employee of the Louvre named Vincenzo Peruggia quietly stole the painting during opening hours and hid in a broom closet until the museum had closed, at which point he snuck off with the painting. Peruggia, a staunch Italian patriot, apparently believed the painting belonged in its birthplace and smuggled it to Italy where he hid it in an apartment in Florence and eventually tried to sell the work of art to the Uffizi Gallery. Although the museum did not accept Peruggia’s offer, the Mona Lisa was exhibited at the Uffizi for a few weeks in 1914, before it was returned back to the Louvre!