A petition has been signed by art historians to prevent the drilling of holes into a fresco in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. The fresco may contain artwork by acclaimed Italian Renaissance polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Da Vinci's Battle of Anghiari is a fabled lost painting which many believe is still hidden beneath frescoes painted at later dates, in the Hall of Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) in the Palazzo Vecchio.

The painting is believed to depict a scene in which four men, riding war horses, engage in a battle for the possession of a standard, at the Battle of Anghiari in 1440.

It is believed the artist started painting his fresco during the 1500s but was forced to abandon the project due to complications arising from his experimental oil painting technique.

The unfinished painting, along with a second painting by Michelangelo, together adorned the same room at the Palazzo for almost a decade.

In the mid-16th century, however, due to the restructuring of the halls, many of the unfinished works were lost. These included Da Vinci's Battle of Anghiari.

There have been several debates, over the years, about the existence of the unfinished works behind the Palazzo walls. Florentine officials finally gave their permission, last week, to hunt for the lost paintings by drilling holes through the walls.

However, many experts were appalled by the idea and stated the hunt was nothing but fantasy.