elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Queer Places: Camposanto Monumentale, Pisa

Address: Il Camposanto
Piazza del Duomo,
Pisa PI

The Campo Santo, also known as Camposanto Monumentale ("monumental cemetery") or Camposanto Vecchio ("old cemetery"), is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square in Pisa, Italy.

"Campo Santo" can be literally translated as "holy field", because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Fourth Crusade by Ubaldo de' Lanfranchi, archbishop of Pisa in the 12th century. A legend claims that bodies buried in that ground will rot in just 24 hours. The burial ground lies over the ruins of the old baptistery of the church of Santa Reparata, the church that once stood where the cathedral now stands.

The term "monumental" serves to differentiate it from the later-established urban cemetery in Pisa.

The outer wall is composed of 43 blind arches. There are two doorways. The one on the right is crowned by a gracious Gothic tabernacle. It contains the Virgin Mary with Child, surrounded by four saints. It is the work from the second half of the 14th century by a follower of Giovanni Pisano. This was the original entrance door. Most of the tombs are under the arcades, although a few are on the central lawn. The inner court is surrounded by elaborate round arches with slender mullions and plurilobed tracery.

The cemetery has three chapels. The oldest ones are the chapel Ammannati (1360) and takes its name from the tomb of Ligo Ammannati, a teacher in the University of Pisa; and the chapel Aulla, were there is an altar made by Giovanni della Robbia in 1518. In the Aulla chapel we can see also the original incense lamp that Galileo Galilei used for calculation of pendular movements. This lamp is the one Galileo saw inside the cathedral, now replaced by a larger more elaborate one. The last chapel was Dal Pozzo, commissioned by archbishop of Pisa Carlo Antonio Dal Pozzo in 1594; it has an altar dedicated to St. Jerome and a little dome. In this chapel in 2009 were translated the relics of the Cathedral: the relics include among the others eleven of the twelve Apostles, two fragments of the True Cross, a thorn from the Crown of Thorns of Christ and a small piece of the dress of the Virgin Mary. Also in the Dal Pozzo chapel sometimes a Mass is celebrated.

On the south wall, under the frescos by Taddeo Gaddi, there is to monument to Conte Francesco Algarotti (d. 1764) by Carlo Bianconi, Mauro Tesi e Giovanni Antonio Cibei. In 1762 Francesco Algarotti moved to Pisa, where he died of tuberculosis. Frederick the Great, one of his previous lovers, paid for a monument to his memory on the Camposanto of Pisa (Pisa's cemetery), still visible today.

Francesco Algarotti's Life

Count Francesco Algarotti (11 December 1712 – 3 May 1764) was a Venetian polymath, philosopher, poet, essayist, anglophile, art critic and art collector. He was "one of the first Esprits cavaliers of the age," a man of broad knowledge, an expert in Newtonianism, architecture and music and a friend of most of the leading authors of his times: Voltaire, Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens, Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis and the atheist Julien Offray de La Mettrie. Lord Chesterfield, Thomas Gray, George Lyttelton, Thomas Hollis, Metastasio, Benedict XIV and Heinrich von Brühl were among his correspondents.
Algarotti was born in Venice as the son of a rich merchant. His father and uncle were art collectors. Unlike his older brother Bonomo he did not step into the company, but decided to become an author. Francesco studied natural sciences and mathematics in Bologna under Francesco Maria Zanotti and in 1728 he experimented with optics. (Zanotti became a lifelong friend.) First he travelled in the North of Italy, but moved to Florence, and Rome. At the age of twenty, he went to Cirey and Paris, where he became friendly with Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet. Two years later, in 1736, he was in London, where he was made a fellow of the Royal Society. He became embroiled in a lively bisexual love-triangle with the politician Lord John Hervey (1696-1743), and this latter friend Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762). Algarotti left for Venice, Italy and finished his Neutonianismo per le dame ("Newtonism for Ladies"), a work on optics (1737), dedicated to Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle. Both Lord Hervey wrote to him "je vous aime de tout mon coeur [I love you with all my heart]" than Lady Mary "je vous aimerai toute ma vie [I will love you forever]". Lord Hervey mildly reproached Algarotti for not writing more often; Lady Mary sent anguished letters imploring more replies. Lord Hervey wisely managed his love scar, lady Mary maddenly sent "cris du coeur [cries from the heart]". Lord Hervey became jealous, Lady Mary crazy from pain. But at the time Algarotti was in a relationship with a young man from Milan, Firmano, with whom he undertook a travel in the south of France.
In the meantime Algarotti had made acquaintance with Antiochus Kantemir, a Moldavian diplomat, poet and composer. He was invited to visit Russia for the wedding of Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick. Lord Hervey's letters have sentences like "whether you stay or go, do not forget me , mon cher : I will never forget you my whole life". Algarotti thanked him with a dedica on six of the 10 letters in which is divided one of his more famous work, Viaggi di Russia [1739-1751] (Russian Travels).
In 1739 he left with Lord Baltimore from Sheerness to Newcastle upon Tyne. Because of a heavy storm the ship sheltered in Harlingen. Algarotti was discovering "this new city". Passing through London, Algarotti spent 3 months with Lord Hervey at his home, before going back to Russia, from where he wrote to Lord Hervey asking to not forget him and to continue to love him. Lord Hervey complied; Lady Mary, instead, being a problem to her husband's reputation, with his consent went to Venice, hoping to meet Algarotti as soon as he was back from Russia.
Returning from Saint Petersburg to London, Algarotti and Lord Baltimore visited Frederick the Great (1712-1786) in Rheinsberg. Algarotti had obligations in England and came back the year after, again with Lord Hervey for 8 months. But then Frederick the Great called for him to Königsberg where he was crowned. Algarotti left for the last time Lord Hervey, they never met again.
Frederik, who was impressed with this walking encyclopedia made him and his brother Bonomo Prussian counts in 1740. Algarotti accompanied Frederick to Bayreuth, Kehl, Strasbourg and Moyland Castle where they met with Voltaire, who was taking baths in Kleve for his health. In 1741 Algarotti went to Turin as his diplomat where he met again Lady Mary. The couple stayed together for two months, but it ended badly, and Algarotti went to Berlin, while instead Lady Mary moved to the South of Italy.
Frederick had offered him a salary, but Algarotti refused. After two years, in 1742, they separated. First he went to Dresden and Venice, where he bought 21 paintings, a few by Jean-Étienne Liotard and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo for the court of Augustus III of Poland.
In 1747 Algarotti went back to Potsdam and became court chamberlain, but left to visit the archeological diggings at Herculaneum. In 1749 he moved to Berlin. Algarotti was involved in finishing the architectural designs of Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff who had fallen ill. In February 1753, after several years residing in Prussia, due to his tubercolosis and seeking the warmer weather, he returned to Italy, living most of the time in Bologna. In 1759 Algarotti was involved in a new opera-style in the city of Parma. He influencing Guillaume du Tillot and the Duke of Parma. In 1762, always seeking a warmer climate, he went to Pisa where he died in 1764.


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