In Dan Brown Inferno, the word cerca trova is mentioned quite a number of times and play a key role in the storyline of the book. To understand the significance of the word and the history behind, we will need to step into the Hall of the Five Hundred, located right in Palazzo VecchioIn, Florence.
In the Hall of the Five Hundred lies one of the murals painted by Vasari, the “Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana”. This mural is actually a painting painted over a wall, that is why we called it a mural instead of a painting. The size of this mural is tremendous large. To give you a sense of the sheer size of this mural, let’s take a look at some of the photos.
Notice in the right corner of the complete view of the mural, there is a person trying to strangle another person, with both his hands on his neck while the person is lying down on his back.
Notice the same duo fighting in the foreground as mentioned above. This is how big the mural is. Actually the mural measures 52 metres by length and 23 metres by height. I can only imagine the time and effort spend on this mural just by looking at the sheer size. It has to be at least 500 normal paintings worth of area. Perhaps that is why this hall is called the Hall of 500. Actually the name came from the purpose of the hall, which is used as a court to host the Grand Council of 500 members in the past.
This particular portion of the mural is called “The Victory of Cosimo I at Marciano in Val di Chiana” (also called the Battle of Scannagallo in the Val di Chiana in 1554). A closer look at this part of the mural.
Notice the red circle at in the murals. That is actually where the flag which bears the words, cerca trova is located.
Because of the sheer size and height of the painting, it will not be easy to spot the words cerca trova in the actual mural. However, after many years, people began to spot the words and figure out what does it stand for. In some forms of translation, it means “He who seeks, find.” instead of “Seek and you shall find.”
Many speculates that this mural actually hides another painting in the walls of this hall, thus the reason for the phrase cerca trova. The painting, as mentioned in the book is the Battle of Anghiari, sometimes also refered to as “The Lost Leonardo”.
To date, the painting is still not found despite several attempts to extract the painting from within the wall. However, many evidence show that the painting is indeed behind the wall but getting to the painting will actually damage the mural and parts of the building which is consider very valuable as well. We do think the painting is meant to be found through the hint that Vasari had put in place to protect the legacy of Leonardo. However, Vasari had become a legend by himself and his work is considered to be too valuable to destroy at this stage, even though the intention of the work is to allow descendants to find the Lost Leonardo. Perhaps Robert Langdon should have found this painting instead, thrilling the impossible find to the people.
Seek and you shall find.