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Architecture, Death and Nationhood

In the nineteenth century, new cemeteries were built in many Italian cities that were
unique in scale and grandeur, and which became destinations on the Grand Tour.
From the Middle Ages, the dead had been buried in churches and urban graveyards,
but from the 1740s a radical reform across Europe prohibited burial inside cities and
led to the creation of suburban burial grounds. Italy’s nineteenth-century cemeteries
were distinctive as monumental or architectural structures, rather than landscaped
gardens. They represented a new building type that emerged in response to momentous
changes in Italian politics, tied to the fight for independence and the creation of the
nation state.
As the first survey of Italy’s monumental cemeteries, the book explores the relation-
ship between architecture and politics, or how architecture is formed by political forces.
As cities of the dead, cemeteries mirrored the spaces of the living. Against the backdrop
of Italy’s unification, they conveyed the power of the new nation, efforts to construct
an Italian identity, and conflicts between Church and state. Monumental cemeteries
helped to foster the narratives and mentalities that shaped Italy as a new nation.

Hannah Malone is a historian of architecture and modern Italy. After a doctorate at


St John’s College Cambridge, she held a fellowship at the British School at Rome and
studied fascist military cemeteries. As a Lumley Junior Research Fellow at Magdalene
College Cambridge, she is currently working on the architect Marcello Piacentini.
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Architecture, Death and
Nationhood
Monumental Cemeteries of
Nineteenth-Century Italy

Hannah Malone
First published 2017
by Routledge
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and by Routledge
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© 2017 Hannah Malone
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British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Malone, Hannah, author.
Title: Architecture, death and nationhood : monumental cemeteries of
nineteenth-century Italy / Hannah Malone.
Description: New York : Routledge, 2017. | Series: Studies in architecture series |
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2016047662| ISBN 9781472446817 (hardback : alk. paper) |
ISBN 9781315597485 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH: Cemeteries—Italy—History—19th century. | Nationalism and
architecture—Italy—History—19th century.
Classification: LCC NA6167 .M35 2017 | DDC 718/.8094509034—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016047662

ISBN: 978-1-4724-4681-7 (hbk)


ISBN: 978-1-3155-9748-5 (ebk)

Typeset in Sabon
by Florence Production Ltd, Stoodleigh, Devon, UK
To my parents,
Sinéad Hennessy and
Patrick Malone
Contents

List of figures ix
List of tables xiv
Acknowledgements xv

Introduction 1
The significance of cemeteries 2
The scope of this book 3
Sources and methods 5

1 A radical reform of burial practices, 1740–1804 9


Practical concerns and the impact of the Enlightenment 10
Egalitarian burial in Italy 14
The academies and post-mortem meritocracy 21
Two European traditions: monumental and garden cemeteries 25

2 The monumental cemetery as a new architectural type 32


A brief history of nineteenth-century Italy 32
The changes brought by Napoleonic legislation 35
The Italian monumental tradition and its sources 37
The rejection of the garden cemetery 43
New attitudes towards death and commemoration 50
The impact of social change 57
The cemetery as a cradle for bourgeois culture 66
The cemetery and the city 80
Necessary inventions 91

3 Death and Risorgimento: the politics of Italian funerary architecture 104


Instability and fragmentation 104
Divided loyalties: local patriotism 106
Nationalism and the state 107
National memory and the cult of the dead 110
Tombs of heroes 111
viii Contents
The role of archaeology 118
Temples of fame 118
The demise and revival of political commemoration 126
Church versus state 128
Cremation 130
Crematoria 133

4 Style, language and meaning 151


Classicism from Napoleon to the nation state, 1800–1861 152
The abandonment of Egyptian models 153
The Pantheon as paradigm 159
Neoclassicism and its centripetal effect 165
National unity and stylistic dissolution 166
Medievalism in the newly unified Italy 170
Milan 172
Pavia and Padua 178
Dialects of Lombardy–Venetia 183
Genoa and local pride 184
The politics of style and nationhood 192

Conclusion 200
The nature of type 200
The nature of meaning 201
The nature of power 203

Appendix: Catalogue 208


Bibliography 233
Index 255
Figures

Introduction
I.1 Map of Italy’s monumental cemeteries 4

Chapter 1
1.1 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves,
Ferdinando Fuga, 1762 15
1.2 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves 16
1.3 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves,
reusable coffin 17
1.4 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves,
recreation of a funeral 18
1.5 Giovanni Campana, project submitted to Concorso Clementino, 1795 22
1.6 Giovanni Campana, project submitted to Concorso Clementino, 1795 24
1.7 London, Kensal Green cemetery, 1832 26
1.8 Paris, Père-Lachaise cemetery, 1804 27
1.9 Verona, monumental cemetery, 1828 27

Chapter 2
2.1 Italy in 1799 33
2.2 Italy in 1815–1870 34
2.3 Brescia, monumental cemetery, main court, 1815 37
2.4 Pisa, Campo Santo, 1278 38
2.5 Brescia, monumental cemetery, loculi, 1819 40
2.6 Rome, Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura, sixth century, rebuilt
nineteenth and twentieth centuries 41
2.7 Verano cemetery, main chapel, 1860 41
2.8 Verona, monumental cemetery, view from entrance towards main
chapel, Giuseppe Barbieri, 1828 42
2.9 Rome, non-Catholic cemetery, expansion, 1822 45
2.10 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, begun 1844, expanded 1870s 47
2.11 Verona, monumental cemetery, sketch, Giuseppe Barbieri, ?1828;
the tomb of Ippolito Pindemonte is shown on the left, not in its
final location 55
x Figures
2.12 Verona, cemetery project, plan and internal portico, Luigi Trezza,
1804 59
2.13 Verona, cemetery project, plan and internal portico, Luigi Trezza,
1820 60
2.14 Naples, Poggioreale cemetery, edicole, post-1837 62
2.15 Catalogue of funerary carriages, Francesco Belloni, ?1880s 64
2.16 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, loculi 65
2.17 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, tomb of industrialist Ambrogio Binda,
Metello Motelli, 1876. The epitaph reads: ‘Work was his faith –
honesty his guide – family his comfort. He was awarded by men on
earth and will be granted a greater award by God in heaven’ 67
2.18 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Maggi-Via tomb, Giovanni Battista
Lombardi, 1859 69
2.19 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pellegrini tomb, Domenico Carli,
1888 70
2.20 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Gallino tomb, Giacomo Moreno,
1894 71
2.21 Verona, monumental cemetery, Dalla Riva tomb, Grazioso Spazzi,
1842–1845. It includes a neoclassical piangente 72
2.22 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Balucanti tomb, Giovanni Seleroni,
1861. Female relatives in modern dress perform the role of the
piangente 73
2.23 Verona, monumental cemetery, late 1800s. Inscription reads:
‘To Maria Smania. Mother and wife.’ 74
2.24 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Raggio tomb, Augusto Rivalta, 1872 75
2.25 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Badaracco tomb, 1878 76
2.26 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Facchi tomb, 1877 77
2.27 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Bomba tomb, 1885 78
2.28 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pignone tomb, Giuseppe Benetti, 1867 79
2.29 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pienovi tomb, Giovanni Battista Villa,
1879 80
2.30 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, tomb of Carlo Erba, Santo Saccomanno,
1883 81
2.31 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Celle tomb, Giulio Monteverde,
1891–1893 82
2.32 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, proposal to rotate plan, Giuseppe
Pestagalli, 1857 88
2.33 Verona, monumental cemetery, Giuseppe Barbieri, 1827 89
2.34 Brescia, monumental cemetery, avenue, 1825 90
2.35 Milan, Monumentale cemetery 92

Chapter 3
3.1 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Goffredo Mameli, 1891 112
3.2 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Cesare Lucatelli, 1886 113
3.3 Rome, Verano, monument to the Battle of Mentana, Virginio
Vespignani, 1867 114
Figures xi
3.4 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Zouave Achilles Bligny, 1862 115
3.5 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Monumento ai Prodi Bresciani
(Monument to the Worthy of Brescia), 1879 116
3.6 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, tomb of Giuseppe Mazzini, Vittorio
Gaetano Grosso, 1872 117
3.7 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, famedio, Giovanni Battista Resasco,
1861–1870 121
3.8 Messina, Gran Camposanto, famedio, Leone Savoja, opened 1872 123
3.9 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, famedio, Carlo Maciachini, 1870 123
3.10 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, famedio, interior 124
3.11 Bologna, Certosa cemetery, Monuments to the Fallen of the
Great War and the Fascist Revolution, 1926–1927, Filippo Buriani,
Arturo Carpi, Giulio Ulisse Arata and Erole Drei 127
3.12 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium façade, Carlo
Maciachini, 1876 134
3.13 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium interior, altered by
Augusto Guidini, 1896 135
3.14 Pisa, suburban cemetery, crematorium, 1883 136
3.15 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium, original design,
Carlo Maciachini, 1876 137
3.16 Project for a crematorium, Augusto Guidini, 1881 138
3.17 Lodi, Riolo cemetery, crematorium, original design, Paolo Gorini,
1877 139
3.18 Rome, Verano cemetery, crematorium, Salvatore Rosa, 1883 140
3.19 Pavia, monumental cemetery, crematorium, Angelo Savoldi, 1901 143

Chapter 4
4.1 Rome, tomb of Gaius Cestius, 18–12 BC and non-Catholic cemetery,
ca. 1716 153
4.2 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Bossini family chapel, 1815 154
4.3 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, Bruni family tomb, Angelo Colla
and Giulio Monteverde, 1876 155
4.4 Turin, monumental cemetery, project for main chapel, Gaetano
Lombardi, early 1827 157
4.5 Turin, monumental cemetery, project for main chapel, Gaetano
Lombardi, June 1827 158
4.6 Padua, project for a cemetery, Giuseppe Jappelli, 1827 159
4.7 Rome, project for ‘Monument to the Glory of the Monarchs’,
Giuseppe Valadier, ?1814 160
4.8 Naples, Church of San Francesco da Paola, Paolo Bianchi,
1817–1831 161
4.9 Modena, monumental cemetery, main chapel, Cesare Costa, 1858 162
4.10 Brescia, monumental cemetery, main chapel, Rodolfo Vantini, 1815 164
4.11 Possagno, Canova Temple, 1819–1831 164
4.12 Verona, monumental cemetery, entrance, Giuseppe Barbieri, 1828 166
4.13 Messina, Gran Camposanto, main chapel, Leone Savoja, 1865 168
xii Figures
4.14 Milan, Monumentale cemetery 169
4.15 Naples, Poggioreale cemetery, Conventino, 1842 172
4.16 Milan, altered version of cemetery project, Alessandro Sidoli, 1838 173
4.17 Satirical cartoon: L’uomo di pietra, 1863, illustrating unexecuted
cemetery projects for Milan by Luigi Cagnola (1809), Francesco
Durelli (1816), Giulio Aluisetti (1838, 1846) and Alessandro Sidoli
(1838) 176
4.18 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, Carlo Maciachini, 1863 178
4.19 Pavia, monumental cemetery, façade, Vincenzo Monti and Angelo
Savoldi, 1879 179
4.20 Padua, monumental cemetery, Enrico Holzner, 1880 181
4.21 Gallarate cemetery, Camillo Boito, 1865–1869 182
4.22 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, entrance façade 183
4.23 Genoa, San Lorenzo Cathedral, 1200s–1400s 185
4.24 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Ottone tomb, 1898 186
4.25 Genoa, Palazzo San Giorgio, 1260 (altered 1570, 1878) 187
4.26 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Cerruti tomb 188
4.27 Genoa, Church of Immacolata Concezione, 1871 189
4.28 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Rivara tomb, 1875 190
4.29 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Piaggio tomb, 1885 191

Conclusion
Conclusion 1 Cagliari, Bonaria cemetery, monument to Antonietta
Todde Pera, Ambrogio Celi, 1879 206

Catalogue
C.1 Certosa cemetery and sanctuary of San Luca 208
C.2 Aerial view 209
C.3 Chapel 210
C.4 Main avenue and chapel 211
C.5 Luigi Tatti’s original design of 1840s 212
C.6 Luigi Voghera’s original project of 1821 213
C.7 Portico, Ferdinando Canonici, 1830s 214
C.8 Private tombs 215
C.9 Ponti family chapel 216
C.10 Entrance façade 217
C.11 Internal portico 218
C.12 Main court 219
C.13 Entrance 220
C.14 Aerial view, 1935 221
C.15 Main court, Cesare Costa, 1858 222
C.16 Aerial view 223
C.17 Vault covering 224
C.18 Portico 225
C.19 View towards entrance 226
Figures xiii
C.20 View towards entrance 227
C.21 Original core 228
C.22 Entrance 229
C.23 Entrance façade, Gaetano Lombardi, 1827 230
C.24 View from Cannaregio 231
C.25 View from entrance 232
Tables

Chapter 2
2.1 Evolution of Italian funerary architecture 57

Chapter 4
4.1 Dominant styles and models in nineteenth-century Italian cemeteries 152
Acknowledgements

In the preface to his pioneering book on cremation of 1876, Paolo Gorini reflected
that ‘for most of my life, I have substituted, without much sorrow, the company of
the living with that of the dead’.1 Although this book also emerges from much contact
with the dead, it would not have been possible without the help of the living. The
study stems from my doctorate, and I am greatly indebted to my supervisor, Frank
Salmon, for his time and encouragement. I am also thankful for the company of a
cohort of architectural historians at St John’s College, Cambridge, comprising Richard
Butler, Aaron Helfand, Max Bryant and Otto Saumarez Smith.
Most of the material was gathered during a ‘Grand Tour’ in which I travelled across
Italy, from north to south, visiting each major cemetery. My research was greatly
facilitated by the kind assistance of numerous archivists. In particular, I wish to thank
William Baietti of the Archivio Storico del Comune in Bologna, Andrea Cipriani
and Roberta Passalacqua of the Archivio Disegni della Soprintendenza per i Beni
Architettonici in Florence, Maria Chiarlo of the Archivio Storico Comunale in Lucca,
Silvana Barani of the Musei Civici in Pavia, the staff of the Centro Documentazione
del Verano in Rome, Maria Vittoria Foghino of the Fondazione Ariodante Fabretti
in Turin, and Giuseppe Toma and Vincenzo Ferraro of the Archivio Storico della
Città, also in Turin.
This study benefitted from the contributions of academics from various Italian
universities with a common interest in Italy’s cemeteries. Meetings with Emanuela
Bagattoni and Maria Beatrice Bettazzi of the University of Bologna, Maria Canella
of the Politecnico di Milano, Annarosa Cerutti Fusco of the University La Sapienza
in Rome, Fabio Mangone of the University of Naples, and Franco Sborgi of the
University of Genoa assisted my efforts to understand issues that were particular to
their regions. In particular, Ornella Selvafolta (Politecnico di Milano) provided
valuable insights with respect to my research. Matteo Cassani Simonetti and Francesco
Pezzini kindly afforded access to their doctoral research on funerary architecture in
Ferrara and Naples, respectively.
Laura Bertolaccini of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, Nicoletta Cardano of
the Sovraintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali (Rome), Susanna Zatti, Director
of the Musei Civici in Pavia, and Roberto Martorelli and Mauro Felicori of the
municipality of Bologna met with me to discuss my research, and provided valuable
observations and information. Roberto Martorelli and Bob Freidus were generous in
giving me access to their individual collections of photographs of Italian funerary art.
The architect Paolo Giordano was also very forthcoming with regard to his work on
the Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves in Naples. Overall, the
xvi Acknowledgements
disponibilità shown to me by Italian scholars, archivists and others is evidence of the
value and significance afforded to funerary architecture as an element of their national
heritage.
I am grateful to the staff and residents of the British School at Rome, where I
was a Fellow in 2014–2015, and to the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College,
Cambridge, where I hold a Lumley Junior Research Fellowship. I wish to acknow-
ledge the financial support of St John’s College, the Kettle’s Yard Travel Fund,
the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and the hospitality of the
Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia, the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Enrica Berio and Alessandra
Banfi. Sadé Lee and Grace Harrison of Routledge greatly facilitated the completion
of this book.
I am indebted to Rosalind Polly Blakesley, Melissa Calaresu, Robert Gordon and
Deborah Howard of the University of Cambridge, who read my work and offered
important contributions. Gavin Stamp and Alessio Boschet kindly agreed to visit
cemeteries and take photographs for this book. I wish to thank James Stevens Curl,
who offered precious criticism, help and insight. I am especially grateful to Richard
Etlin, who read this work in an early form, and provided assistance and advice.
I owe my warmest thanks to my siblings, Emma and Stephen Malone, and to the
friends who patiently accompanied me on trips to cemeteries in Italy and elsewhere.
Finally, I wish to thank my parents, Sinéad Hennessy and Patrick Malone, to whom
this book is dedicated.

Note
1 Paolo Gorini, Sulla purificazione dei morti per mezzo del fuoco. Considerazioni, sperimenti
e proposte (Milan: Natale Battezzati, 1876), VII.
Introduction

With the passing of the centuries, ideas, laws and customs change. Cemeteries
show their history as well as anything else.1
Scipione Piattoli, Saggio attorno al luogo
del seppellire (1774)

Over the course of the nineteenth cemetery, Italy witnessed the creation of cemeteries
of unparalleled size and grandeur that were quite unlike earlier Italian graveyards and
contemporary burial grounds elsewhere in Europe. Their construction responded,
in part, to a period of turbulent social and political change that was marked by the
emergence of the bourgeoisie, the fight for political independence and the establishment
of a unified Italy. Through their architecture, the new cemeteries expressed struggles
for power between major cities within the fledgling nation state, but also efforts to
construct a new national identity through a shared memory of the dead. As microcosms
of an evolving social and political order, they embodied tensions between regions,
competing social groups, and the interests of Church and state. They also reflected
myths and collective memories that continue to define Italy as a nation.
This book traces the development of monumental cemeteries in nineteenth-century
Italy and aims to show how funerary architecture mirrored the evolution of a society
and its politics. It addresses the impact of the Risorgimento, or the struggle for Italian
freedom and unity in the period between the Restoration in 1815 and the establishment
of the capital in Rome in 1870. It explores processes that were inherent in an evolving
social structure, and through which Italian cemeteries were invested with the aspira-
tions of a rising bourgeoisie. Against the backdrop of a burgeoning nation, the
architecture of Italy’s monumental cemeteries is shown to have acted as a conduit for
the social and political forces that spurred its creation.
From the Middle Ages until the late eighteenth century, Italy’s dead were generally
buried in churches, monasteries and overcrowded graveyards inside urban boundaries.
Whereas the Reformation gave rise to suburban cemeteries in Northern Europe, in
Italy, the dead continued to be buried in cities, although a small number of suburban
burial grounds were created for the poor.2 The nineteenth century brought radical
changes that were centred around the prohibition of church interment and the removal
of cemeteries to the outskirts of cities. Those changes followed from a marked
reformation of funerary practices that originated in France in the 1740s, and which
was matched by substantial developments in Italian burial customs. A Napoleonic
decree of 1804, which prohibited burial within French cities, constituted a milestone
in reforms that were extended to Italy through the French occupation of the early
2 Introduction
1800s. In conjunction with a wide range of local factors, French legislation prompted
the creation of new burial grounds and strategies that paved the way for the construc-
tion of large, monumental cemeteries on the fringes of a number of Italian cities.
Italian cemeteries built during the nineteenth century differed from earlier graveyards
in that they were suburban, secular, public, planned and mainly multi-denominational.
They were also relatively unique within Europe given their size, monumentality and
the extent of public investment. In part, their creation resulted from demands exerted
by expanding urban populations. More importantly, however, their development
was driven by underlying political and cultural factors associated with the Enlighten-
ment, the emergence of an Italian bourgeoisie, the weakening of clerical power, rising
standards in hygiene, and developments in urban planning. Political changes also
played a role in the formation of funerary architecture, as it emerged against a back-
ground marked by the fall of the French regime in Italy in 1814–1815, the Restoration,
and Italian unification in 1860. Essentially, the monumental cemeteries of nineteenth-
century Italy constituted a new architectural type, which expressed the power of cities,
political contexts associated with the emergent nation state, and social and artistic
factors that followed from the redistribution of wealth and the rise of the middle
classes.

The significance of cemeteries


The aim of this book is not simply to present a historical account of the evolution of
Italy’s monumental cemeteries. Rather, it is intended to expose how architecture is
shaped by sociopolitical and cultural conditions, and how the imperatives that spring
from such conditions are interrelated and mutually supportive. In that regard, the
nineteenth-century Italian cemetery offers an ideal case study in that it demonstrates
how networks of social, cultural and political forces can influence architecture. This
is partly because monumental burial grounds were awarded a remarkable degree of
significance within contemporary Italian society. They represented a new building type
that emerged as the direct result of political change and developments in Italy’s social
structures. In addition, over the course of the nineteenth century, a number of factors
lent importance to the commemoration of the dead. Death was awarded ideological
status through its association with key elements of Italian culture such as romanticism,
nationalism and individualism, and through the power accorded to the bourgeoisie
through funerary art and architecture. The role of cemeteries was enhanced as burial
was elevated to be a medium of expression and status within the social practices of
the middle classes. In that respect, the Italian monumental cemetery was shaped by
a combination of private and public initiatives that were expressed in the making of
individual tombs and of the architectural frameworks within which they were set.
Those frameworks involved the integration of the individual into a social context,
and the amalgamation of private and collective memories. As ‘cities of the dead’,
the monumental cemeteries mirrored the physical and social structures of their parent
cities, and yielded purified images of the societies that they served. As a new archi-
tectural type, they mirrored conditions associated with the state, as well as political
imperatives that were specific to local regions and cities. Architecturally, they reflected
developments in town planning and offered distilled expressions of contemporary
Italian architecture. Above all, however, they expressed the nature of a particular socio-
economic and political order. As spaces of social interaction, they helped reinforce
Introduction 3
that order; for instance, by acting to express and promote the ambitions of the bour-
geoisie, or to mirror and maintain an emergent national consciousness. In that sense,
funerary architecture had a reciprocal relationship with Italy’s sociopolitical contexts
in that it both reflected and helped underpin a network of social and political
transformations. As a Milanese journalist wrote in 1856, ‘more than any other public
monument, the cemetery encapsulates characteristics that make it the most noble and
complete expression of a population’s architecture and ideals’.3

The scope of this book


The book covers the major cemeteries of nineteenth-century Italy, as well as a number
of eighteenth-century projects that were groundbreaking in terms of the evolution of
funerary architecture (see the Catalogue for basic facts and descriptions). The most
significant burial grounds of the 1800s were monumental in the sense that they
embodied large, axial and planned frameworks, which accommodated major elements
such as gateways, arcaded galleries, chapels and private monuments. However, a
number of Italy’s monumental cemeteries also incorporated areas that followed
a picturesque tradition. Thus, monumentality cannot be defined on the grounds of a
strict adherence to classical planning, but on the basis of relative size, the importance
of a cemetery with respect to a city and its community, and the fact that it gained
from significant investment by the local council.
A map of monumental cemeteries shows that they are concentrated in the north
and centre of the Italian peninsula. As discussed below, socio-economic and political
differences may explain why only a limited number of major nineteenth-century burial
grounds were created in southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. Those differences may be
assessed in terms of an attachment to cultural and religious traditions, the relative
absence of a middle class, the course of the Risorgimento, and the subsequent nature
of power and nationalism in those areas. Sicily and Sardinia were the only regions of
Italy that were not occupied by Napoleon and were therefore excluded from the direct
influence of the French with respect to burial reform. However, there are exceptions;
for instance, the monumental cemeteries in Naples, in the Sardinian city of Cagliari
and in the Sicilian city of Messina. Nonetheless, the restricted geographical distribu-
tion of monumental cemeteries might be taken to indicate that their emergence was
dependent on the existence of a particular set of sociopolitical circumstances.
The relationships between monumental cemeteries and the conditions under which
they were created are addressed in four chapters that focus, in turn, on issues relating
to context, society, politics and style. In Chapter 1, the background against which
Italian cemeteries of the nineteenth century emerged as a new architectural type is
examined with respect to the reformation of burial practices in the second half of the
eighteenth century. New light is shed on the ties between Italy and the rest of Europe
in terms of the forces that promoted burial reform, and particularly influences that
stemmed from Austria and France as occupying forces. Yet, in spite of foreign
involvement, the nineteenth century saw the emergence of a distinctly Italian approach
to funerary design. Factors such as the Risorgimento gave rise to a monumentality
that set Italy’s cemeteries apart from those of its European counterparts. Thus, in
Chapter 2, attention is focused on the ties that bound the cemetery to the society that
it served, and which shaped its role as a microcosm of the city and its underlying
social structures. Parallels are drawn between developments in town planning and the
4 Introduction

Figure I.1 Map of Italy’s monumental cemeteries


Source: CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), via Wikimedia Commons. Modified
by the author.

evolution of funerary architecture, and between social changes and their impact on
funerary sculpture, which accommodated the needs and ambitions of the rising middle
classes. In Chapter 3, the importance of Italian cemeteries is explored with respect to
the way in which they came to express political forces of the 1800s, for example, in
relation to conflicts associated with nationalism and regionalism. Nineteenth-century
Italian cemeteries also accommodated efforts to foster a ‘cult’ of the dead for political
ends, especially through the idea of the pantheon and its role as a secular temple
Introduction 5
dedicated to national and local heroes. They also provided an arena within which
conflicts between Church and state were acted out, especially in relation to the
building of crematoria and the struggle between anticlerical and liberal forces that
characterised the adoption of cremation in the nineteenth century. Chapter 4 focuses
on funerary architecture and the power of style to express cultural and sociopolitical
meanings. A number of examples are used to expose causal links between developments
in politics, culture and style. The objective is to demonstrate the impact of contextual
factors on the planning and architecture of Italy’s nineteenth-century cemeteries. Thus,
for example, whereas neoclassicism dominated Italian funerary architecture before
the establishment of the nation state in 1861, it is possible to explore why the period
beyond unification saw the rise of medievalism and local architectural traditions – a
transition that may be largely attributed to political changes. Finally, connections are
drawn between the social, cultural and political mechanisms that shaped Italy’s
monumental burial grounds.

Sources and methods


Cemeteries are generated through the interaction of various and complex influences,
of which the most significant may be ascribed to social customs, political pressures
and artistic trends. While Italy’s monumental cemeteries were created against the
backdrop of the Risorgimento and other major determinants, their emergence cannot
be fully explained by reference to any individual force. There is a tendency in the
literature to isolate specific factors such as, for example, cultural traditions, legisla-
tion or artistic canons. However, whereas this may reflect the urge to work within
disciplinary boundaries, the resulting literature can be reductive and fragmentary. In
order to provide a more comprehensive study, this book adopts an interdisciplinary
approach and brings together material drawn from different areas of interest; notably,
art and politics. Although this is essentially a book of architectural history, it aims to
trace the genesis of particular architectural forms in order to uncover forces that
stemmed from a generative context, which is the province of different disciplines.
It is also the case that, despite being accorded an important place in seminal surveys
of funerary architecture, Italy’s monumental cemeteries have not received much
attention from anglophone scholarship.4 Contemporary developments in other Euro-
pean countries, and particularly in France, are better known.5 However, this book
deviates from established theory with regard to the influence attributed to France as
it highlights the differences between the landscaped cemeteries of Northern Europe
and the monumental funerary architecture of Mediterranean countries. Within the
field of art history, Italy’s nineteenth-century cemeteries are covered by a relatively
large and varied range of Italian texts.6 Whereas that material constitutes a useful
source of information, it tends to be marred by two weaknesses. It is generally restricted
to particular cities and regions and does not offer a national overview of Italy’s
monumental cemeteries. Moreover, and with some exceptions, approaches to the topic
are generally descriptive rather than analytical. It is important, therefore, that this
book places the subject within the political and social contexts of nineteenth-century
Italy, and addresses both the nature of cemeteries and the conditions under which
they were built. Thus, insights into the production of the burial grounds and their
reception by the public have been drawn from a stock of nineteenth-century
guidebooks, art historical surveys, journal articles and pamphlets.7 In addition, sources
6 Introduction
from art history have been integrated, or cross-referenced, with work from other
strands of history. That allows recognition, for example, of the fact that more recent
political studies refute the traditional interpretation of the Risorgimento as a
teleological process, which led inevitably to national unification. Such studies highlight
the conflicts and pressures that underpinned the making of the new nation state, which
had a bearing on the evolution of funerary architecture.8 Similarly, studies that are
rooted in the history of science cover the reformation of burial practices in the
eighteenth century and its relationship to advancements in medicine, hygiene and town
planning.9 Equally, there is work that traces the growth of the middle classes in
nineteenth-century Italy and social factors that had a marked impact on the
development of burial grounds.10 The emergence of Italy’s monumental cemeteries
can also be viewed through the wider lens of cultural history. Within that field, for
example, the works of the historians Philippe Ariès, John McManners, Michel Vovelle
and Thomas Laqueur cover factors such as changing attitudes towards death and the
afterlife in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.11
The significance of cemeteries and how they functioned with respect to the politics,
society and culture of nineteenth-century Italy touches on three main areas of theory.
The first concerns how social meanings are expressed, or carried, by architecture and
the city – on which, different insights are offered by theorists such as Jan Mukařovský,
Maurice Halbwachs and Walter Benjamin.12 On a more immediate level, work by the
architect Aldo Rossi is especially relevant in that it touches directly on the social
meanings that are embedded in the architecture of Italy’s monumental cemeteries.13
Second, this book draws on theory that covers particular mechanisms which operate
within the realm of cultural production, as explored, for example, by Jürgen Habermas,
Henri Lefebvre and Pierre Bourdieu. Analysis of those mechanisms suggests, for
instance, how architecture is the product of tensions or conflicts within society.14
Third, there is the expanding field of memory studies that spans across history, archae-
ology and anthropology, and which is a source for theory that is fundamental to
understanding the meanings ascribed to funerary architecture.15 In particular, work
on memory, monuments and commemoration provides a basis for the exploration of
cemeteries as carriers of cultural messages, which contribute to the construction
of social identities, and public and private memories.
This book also reflects the work of urban and architectural historians who address
the relationships between architecture and its underlying social conditions, such
as Brian Ladd, Nancy Stieber, Eve Blau and Lucy Maulsby.16 Given that in order to
locate funerary architecture within a determining context, it is necessary to adopt an
approach that is sensitive both to influences associated with art, culture and politics,
and to forces that operate at the level of the individual, the locality and the state,
microhistory presents an ideal solution. As an investigative tool, it can stretch across
different fields, and between micro- and macro-forces.17 In this case, microhistory takes
the form of case studies that are used to explore the origins of cemeteries as evidenced
in buildings and archival documents. In that they were generally constructed on behalf
of municipalities, Italy’s nineteenth-century cemeteries are well documented in state
and local archives, which contain architectural drawings, minutes of municipal
meetings, competition briefs, and documents relating to design and construction. Thus,
case studies can be used to identify patterns in the evolution of funerary architecture,
to correlate the ‘macro’ with the ‘micro’, or to trace the connections between major
forces such as romanticism or the Risorgimento, and the ‘micro’ events of everyday
Introduction 7
life. Concrete examples can shed light on the effects of major political events, local
allegiances, professional rivalries, and the individual roles played by architects,
intellectuals and local councillors. It is important to underline how burial grounds
resulted from struggles between different forces and agents, and how they acted as
stages on which issues relating to power, political unification, nationhood and identity
were acted out.18 Through a microhistorical approach, it is possible to expose how
the messy realities of life complicated, and even contradicted, the master narratives
of history. A microscopic focus can reveal discrepancies between the myths of Italian
patriotism and the actions of individuals and urban authorities, how local priorities
and personal gain might take precedence over national goals, and how pragmatic and
economic interests might hold sway over high culture and political ideals.
Given that the monumental cemeteries of nineteenth-century Italy emerged largely
as the result of changes within Italian society and the evolving political landscape of
the new nation, this book aims to demonstrate how funerary architecture reflected
the nature of those changes. It focuses on the relationships between what was built
and underlying generative forces. The intention is to expose the meanings embedded
in Italy’s cemeteries, to uncover the processes through which they emerged, and to
reveal the relationships between funerary architecture and those processes. To that
end, the book crosses disciplinary borders and draws on a diverse range of sources
and theory. Its method unites a study of major contextual forces with a microhistorical
observation of case studies. The aim is to gain insight, not only into the funerary
architecture and history of nineteenth-century Italy, but also into the relationships
between architecture, politics and society.

Notes
1 All translations are by the author unless otherwise specified.
2 On developments in Northern Europe, see: Philippe Ariès, The Hour of Our Death (London:
Allen Lane, 1981), 318–19; Howard Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life (London: Yale
University Press, 1991), 367; James Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture: An Introduction
to Funerary and Commemorative Buildings in the Western European Tradition, with Some
Consideration of Their Settings (Stroud: Sutton, 2002), 150–3.
3 Anon. [Carlo Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano II’, Il Crepuscolo VII,
16 (20 April 1856), 258.
4 Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life; Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture. On the
sculpture of Italy’s nineteenth-century cemeteries, see Sandra Berresford et al., Italian
Memorial Sculpture 1820–1940: A Legacy of Love (London: Frances Lincoln, 2004).
5 Richard A. Etlin, The Architecture of Death: The Transformation of the Cemetery in
Eighteenth-Century Paris (London: MIT Press, 1984) and Symbolic Space: French
Enlightenment Architecture and Its Legacy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
6 Those works include dissertations, articles, monographic studies and guidebooks to
individual cemeteries. See the Bibliography for details.
7 See, for instance: Ercole Gasparini, Progetto di unire i portici di San Luca colle loggie del
cimitero comunale di Bologna (Bologna: Sassi, 1811); Ferdinando Canonici, Storia e
descrizione dell’antica Certosa di Ferrara (Rovigo: A. Minelli, 1851); Ottavio Cagnoli, Cenni
statistici sul nuovo cimitero in Verona. Pubblicati con tavole da Ottavio Cagnoli tutto il
MDCCCLI (Verona: Vicentini e Franchini, 1852); Ippolito Andreasi, Cenno storico-artistico
sul Comunale Camposanto nell’antica Certosa di Ferrara (Ferrara: Michelangelo Maccanti,
1855); Ferdinando Resasco, La Necropoli di Staglieno: Opera storica descrittiva-anedottica
(Genoa: Fratelli Pagano, 1900).
8 Denis Mack Smith, Il Risorgimento italiano. Storia e testi (Bari: Laterza, 1968); Stuart Woolf,
A History of Italy 1700–1860: The Social Constraints of Political Change (London:
Methuen, 1979); Lucy Riall, The Italian Risorgimento: State, Society, and National
8 Introduction
Unification (London: Routledge, 1994); Derek Beales and Eugenio Biagini, The Risorgimento
and the Unification of Italy (London: Pearson Education, 2002); Christopher Duggan, The
Force of Destiny: A History of Italy since 1796 (London: Allen Lane, 2007).
9 Grazia Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi: Le origini settecentesche del cimitero extraurbano
(Bologna: Il Mulino, 2001); Diego Carnevale, ‘Idee e progetti per la riforma cimiteriale
nella Napoli napoleonica: Tra riflessione medica ed esperienze tecniche’, Medicina nei secoli.
Arte e scienza 23/3 (2011) and L’affare dei morti. Mercato funerario, politica e gestione
della sepoltura a Napoli (secoli XVII-XIX) (Rome, Collection de l’École française de Rome,
2014).
10 Paolo Macry, Raffaele Romanelli and Biagio Salvemini, Le borghesie dell’Ottocento: Fonti,
metodi e modelli per una storia sociale delle élites (Messina: Sicania, 1988); Marco Meriggi,
‘La borghesia italiana’, in Borghesie europee dell’Ottocento, ed. Jürgen Kocka (Venice:
Marsilio Editori, 1989); Adrian Lyttelton, ‘The middle classes in Liberal Italy’, in Society
and Politics in the Age of the Risorgimento, ed. John A. Davis and Paul Ginsborg
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Raffaele Romanelli, ‘Political Debate, Social
History and the Italian Borghesia: Changing Perspectives in Historical Research’, Journal
of Modern History 63, no. 4 (1994); Alberto Mario Banti, Storia della borghesia italiana
(Rome: Donzelli, 1996).
11 Michel Vovelle, Mourir autrefois: Attitudes collectives devant la mort aux XVIIe et XVIIIe
siècles (Paris: Éditions Gallimard/Julliard, 1974); Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes toward
Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present (London: Marion Boyars, 1976) and The Hour
of Our Death; John McManners, Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to
Death among Christians and Unbelievers in Eighteenth-Century France (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1985); Thomas W. Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History
of Mortal Remains (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). On the intersection
of cultural history and visual studies, see: Lynn Hunt, The New Cultural History (London:
University of California Press, 1989).
12 Jan Mukařovský, Structure, Sign, and Function: Selected Essays (New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 1977); Maurice Halbwachs, La mémoire collective (Paris: Éditions Albin
Michel, 1997); Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (London: Belknap Press of Harvard
University Press, 2002).
13 Aldo Rossi, L’architettura della città (Milan: Clup, 1987).
14 Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, ed. Randal
Johnson (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993); Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation
of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press, 1991); Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).
15 Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966); David
Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985);
Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989);
Mario Isnenghi, ed., I luoghi della memoria: Strutture ed eventi dell’Italia unita (Rome:
Laterza, 1997); Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval
Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Alois Riegl, ‘The modern cult of
monuments: its essence and its development’, in Historical and Philosophical Issues in the
Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Los Angeles, CA: Getty, 1996); Halbwachs, La mémoire
collective; Françoise Choay, The Invention of the Historic Monument (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2001).
16 Brian Ladd, Urban Planning and Civic Order in Germany, 1860–1914 (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1990); Nancy Stieber, Housing Design and Society in Amsterdam:
Reconfiguring Urban Order and Identity, 1900–1920 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago
Press, 1998) and ‘Microhistory of the Modern City: Urban Space, Its Use and
Representation’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 58, 3 (September 1999);
Eve Blau, The Architecture of Red Vienna, 1919–1934 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999);
Lucy M. Maulsby, Fascism, Architecture, and the Claiming of Modern Milan, 1922–1943
(London: University of Toronto Press, 2014).
17 Giovanni Levi, ‘On microhistory’, in New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Peter Burke
(Cambridge: Polity, 2006).
18 Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, 30–4; Maulsby, Fascism, 9–11.
1 A radical reform of burial
practices, 1740–1804

Whereas ancient Roman law dictated that the dead were buried outside the city, the
tradition of isolating burials was abandoned in the Italian peninsula during the early
Middle Ages.1 Instead, the dead were interred in churches and churchyards that were
generally located inside urban boundaries. Burial in sacred places, and particularly in
proximity to relics, was thought to enhance the possibility of salvation. Relative
distance from the main altar established a hierarchy of the dead within the church,
while the poor were usually interred in mass graves in the surrounding grounds.
However, in Italian lands, a deep-seated process of reform that challenged Christian
traditions began under the Austrians in the 1740s and continued under the French in
the early 1800s. As funerary practice shifted from the city to the suburbs, responsibility
for the dead was largely transferred from the Church to municipal authorities.
Meanwhile, burial reforms gave rise to both built and unrealised projects that
foreshadowed Italy’s monumental cemeteries of the 1800s. Across Europe, reformation
in the eighteenth century spurred the emergence of two models of funerary design, in
the form of monumental burial grounds that were largely architectural, and garden
cemeteries within which the landscape was a dominant element. That split between
opposing models defined the later evolution of European funerary architecture in the
nineteenth century.
The momentous changes in Italian burial customs in the 1700s sprung from a
complex network of social, cultural and political forces that drew, in part, from the
spirit of the Enlightenment. Eighteenth-century Italy witnessed a period of intellectual
renewal that was characterised by the questioning of accepted truths, the rejection of
the official culture of the Catholic Reformation, and the implementation of reforms.2
Markedly cosmopolitan in nature, the Italian Enlightenment was driven by efforts to
align Italy with mainstream European culture, within which France exercised a major
influence. Even prior to Napoleon’s entry into Italy in 1796, there were localised
attempts to reform burial traditions that echoed French efforts to prohibit church
interment.3 Moreover, following the occupation of Italy by the French in 1797, the
modernisation of Italian funerary customs was linked directly to innovations in
France. The Napoleonic Edict of Saint-Cloud (1804), which prohibited burial within
cities, marked a major point in the reformation of burial practices. That legislation
was introduced into the north of the Italian peninsula in 1806 and was extended to
the south in 1809. Traditionally, historians have held the Edict of Saint-Cloud to be
the foundation of the modern burial ground in Europe.4 In fact, although French
legislation helped to define the nature of Italian cemeteries of the nineteenth century,
it is important not to overestimate its influence. In the 1700s, or before the French
10 A radical reform of burial practices
invasion and the Edict of Saint-Cloud (1804), efforts to create new cemeteries in Italy
outstripped those of France, where developments were hampered by relatively high
levels of social and political unrest. Events in Italy were also greatly influenced by the
Austrians, who wielded power within the north of the peninsula from 1706 until the
end of the eighteenth century. Indeed, church interment was prohibited in Modena
(1774), Tuscany (1780) and Lombardy (1784), as territories that were under direct
or indirect Austrian control.
Within Italy, Austrian burial reforms of the late 1700s were more radical than
elsewhere in the Holy Roman Empire, where the Reformation and efforts to prohibit
church interment had already given rise to suburban cemeteries.5 Austrian reforms
embodied what might be recognised as Jansenist sentiments in that they encouraged
a more personal and introverted attitude to the afterlife – an attitude that reflected
Protestant attempts to alter the nature of commemoration in Northern Europe. Thus,
the influence of the French Enlightenment in eighteenth-century Italy was flanked
by influences that reflected Jansenism, legislation imposed by the Austrians, and
the enlightened absolutism of Austrian and filo-Austrian rulers.6 Between 1765 and
1790, enlightened absolutism played a fundamental role in the Italian Enlightenment,
as Italian intellectuals saw authoritative princes as the only force capable of bringing
change. In fact, within northern Italy, the reforms initiated by the Austrians and
affiliated local rulers such as the Duke of Modena were as important, if not more
important, than the egalitarian and anticlerical influences that stemmed from France.
Thus, the Napoleonic Edict of Saint-Cloud of 1804 was established in Italy at the end
of a period of roughly 60 years of burial reform. It served to homogenize funerary
legislation throughout the peninsula, but its real significance lay not so much in its
novelty or immediate effectiveness, but in its subsequent impact on the design
of cemeteries. Whereas the suburban cemeteries created in the eighteenth century
as ‘overspill’ burial grounds were generally reserved for the poor, the importance of
nineteenth-century burial reforms lay mainly in the fact that later Italian cemeteries
were grandiose, accommodated all social classes, and were administered by
municipalities.

Practical concerns and the impact of the Enlightenment


The political contexts in which burial reform evolved in Italy during the second half
of the eighteenth century were strongly influenced by enlightened absolutism. In fact,
culturally, the reformation of burial practices followed from forces that sprang from
the Enlightenment, such as a growing interest in hygiene and debates that were wound
around the value of antiquity, the dignity of man, secularisation, anticlericalism and
egalitarianism. Evidence of those influences can be found in contemporary pamphlets,
treatises and poems, and in newspaper articles that advocated the end of church
burial and the construction of public cemeteries.7 Hygienic concerns were a major
factor as, from the mid-1700s, burial within churches and settlements gave rise to
fears of contamination and infection. Urban burial grounds, which had been in use
for centuries, were under pressure due to the rise in urban populations and increasing
number of deaths that resulted from migration from rural areas – a process that
gathered momentum towards the end of the eighteenth century. While overcrowding
was seen as a threat to public welfare, burial reform also reflected a wider interest in
public health, and efforts to render the city more hygienic through the suburbanisation
A radical reform of burial practices 11
of cemeteries, hospitals, slaughterhouses, prisons and other institutions that were
considered to be ‘unhealthy’.8 The rationalism of the Enlightenment, and the resultant
need to classify and reorder urban and social functions, dictated that the dead be
separated from the living and relegated to new and purpose-built locations. Thus,
writing to the podestà (mayor) of Venice in 1806, the head of the police described
the risk to hygiene:

It is indispensable . . . to establish a place of burial . . . outside of Venice . . . The


custom of burying in Churches is intolerable . . . in a City that would become a
vast sepulchre, if ever a contagious germ were to come from the breast of so many
stacked cadavers.9

The suburbanisation of the dead in the 1700s was also spurred by advancements
in medicine and science, the identification of foul odours as carriers of infection, as
well as broader social concerns and political intentions. The discovery of gases
prompted the notion that miasmas emanating from putrefying corpses were harmful
to the living. Hence, in line with earlier reforms, the Napoleonic legislation of the
early nineteenth century dictated that new suburban cemeteries should be located
on elevated sites swept by winds, which would offset the concentration of noxious
vapours. Previous decrees of the eighteenth century went as far as to forbid the
construction of chapels and monuments within burial grounds on the basis that they
would impede the movement of air and the purifying action of the wind. In the mid-
1700s, trees and plants were also thought to hinder ventilation and were explicitly
prohibited within Italian burial grounds. Yet, by the end of the century, new studies
advocated the purifying effects of vegetation and trees reappeared in cemetery
projects.10
A preoccupation with hygiene also gave rise to a preference for circular plans without
corners that might harbour infection. Across Italy and France, a significant number
of designs for circular cemeteries were created in the late 1700s. In certain areas of
Italy, circular formats continued to exercise a strong appeal in the first decades of the
nineteenth century. For example, between 1804 and 1820, the municipal architect for
Verona, Luigi Trezza (1752–1823), created three unexecuted circular designs for burial
grounds (see Figures 2.12 and 2.13 in Chapter 2). In 1810, Raffaele Stern (1771–1820),
the architect charged by the Napoleonic government with the design of a new cemetery
for Rome, was asked by the French authorities to convert a square plan into a circular
format.11 However, in 1811, Stern’s circular design was abandoned, and when
Giuseppe Valadier (1762–1839) took over the project, he sought to combine circular
and rectangular formats in a square design with semicircular exedras. Ultimately,
few circular projects were built and Valadier’s alteration points to the impracticality
of circular plans.
In reality, the dead posed a minimal threat to the safety of the living.12 The health
risks of overcrowded urban graveyards were exaggerated to provide a justification
for reform, which suggests that political interests were more influential than concerns
for public health. Behind reasons of hygiene lay attempts to remove control of the
dead from the Church and to transfer any associated income to municipalities. A
pamphlet written in 1774 illustrates how anticlericalism played a major part in efforts
to shift power over the dead from the clergy to local councils. It points to the greed
of the clergy as a motivating factor behind the tradition of church interment, and that
12 A radical reform of burial practices
statement is echoed in a collection of anonymous letters published in Bologna in 1802
in defence of new legislation regarding funerary practices.13 Paradoxically, from the
sixth century onwards, the Vatican tended to oppose interment within church grounds
on the basis that it detracted from the dignity of church property – an idea that was
reinforced by the Catholic Reformation of the sixteenth century.14 Yet that position
clashed with the economic interests of the general clergy and exposed a marked
divergence between a ‘high clergy’, who actively discouraged church burial, and a
‘low clergy’ that was wedded to the preservation of traditional powers and economic
privileges. This was particularly evident in Rome, where the papal prohibition of
interment within churches, instituted in 1817, was flouted by parish priests who
continued to profit from church burials until 1871.15 In fact, it was not until Rome
was brought under the government of a united Italy in 1870 that the custom of church
burials was finally suppressed. It is also interesting that burial reforms introduced
from the mid-eighteenth century met with a mixed reaction from the clergy. Some
of the keenest advocates of modernisation and reform were clergymen, and the
suburbanisation of new cemeteries was advocated by some as signalling a return to
the customs of early Christianity. As other clergymen firmly resisted any loss of
authority and associated burial fees, Catholicism provided a platform on which the
reform of burial customs was both promoted and opposed.16 An official document of
Bologna’s Napoleonic government of 1801 describes ‘clergymen masking their private
interests as religious concerns, whispering in the ears of the most credulous and
servile’.17 In contrast, a document written in Venice in 1806 states that ‘religion has
ordered an end to the custom of church burial’.18 Similarly, a pamphlet produced in
1835 in support of Pope Gregory XVI (1765–1846) interprets the Pope’s involvement
in Rome’s Verano cemetery as a bid to re-establish suburban burial as an early
Christian practice, thereby downplaying both the Verano’s origins as a Napoleonic
institution and associations between burial reform and the French Enlightenment
(Catalogue 22). That pamphlet refuted those who ‘murmur into the ears of the inept
populace that this [suburban burial] is a novelty’ by stating that ‘cemeteries are not
a discovery of modern philosophy, but rather an ancient institution of Christian
piety’.19
The Church was not essentially averse to the suburbanisation of cemeteries, but
rather to the secularisation of funerary practices and to the idea that leadership in
issues relating to burial might spring from ideological forces associated with the
Enlightenment, or any force that was alien to the Church. The French historian Michel
Vovelle, writing in the 1970s, suggested that changing attitudes to death in the
eighteenth century may be connected to the relative decline of Christianity.20 There
is evidence that, as the Christian view of death gave way to eighteenth-century
concepts of mortality, death was generally regarded with a sense of foreboding.
Equally, as the role of memento mori lost ground in the Christian imagination, the
proximity of the living to the dead was no longer perceived to be spiritually beneficial.
Instead, the dead served to provoke anxieties associated with mortality, as was
evidenced in 1775 when an anonymous Italian writer described the ‘stupendous
coldness and scandalous insensitivity’ towards the dead in contemporary society.21
The nature of that ‘insensitivity’ was examined by another French historian, Philippe
Ariès, who, in 1976, described the eighteenth century as a period dominated by
sentiments associated with the ‘death of self’, by which he meant the individual’s fear
of dying.22 Whereas this is a questionable generalisation, an obsession with the
A radical reform of burial practices 13
inevitability of death may have reinforced efforts of the middle and upper classes to
remove the dead from public view. However, in Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, there
is also evidence of more ‘positive’ motives behind burial reform such as, for instance,
a desire for social equality and human dignity. As the historian Thomas Laqueur has
argued, the suburbanisation of burial was not a sign that the dead had lost their power
and status, or that the living had become disenchanted with death.23 Rather, it meant
that the dead were deployed to serve other political, social and cultural ends, as their
role shifted from the religious to the secular sphere.
Egalitarianism constituted a major ideological force in the reformation of funerary
practices. The erosion of religious and aristocratic privileges associated with burial
can be interpreted as a symptom of a wider process of social change that began in
the late eighteenth century, and which foreshadowed the emergence of a different social
order. Within Italy, the new burial laws represented a threat not only to the clergy,
but also to the nobility whose status had hitherto been endorsed by funerary rituals.
That threat sprang from the fact that reform was driven by deeper forces, which
underpinned the transformation, and liberalisation, of a sociopolitical system. That
some members of the elite met burial reform with resistance was evidenced in Bologna
in 1801, when a group of aristocrats failed to convince the Napoleonic government
to maintain the practice of interment within family chapels, as opposed to burial in
Bologna’s new public cemetery. Their claim that it was ‘a disgrace to bury all social
classes together’ was supported by the alleged appearance of an otherworldly spirit,
who informed a group of local dignitaries that the nobles will have ‘no peace’ in the
new cemetery.24 In that same year, an aristocrat was denied permission to bury his
nephew on an estate outside Bologna on the basis that it would be unfair to grant the
‘son of a wealthy family’ the right to be buried outside the public cemetery, as it would
imply ‘a treatment at odds with civic equality’.25 While this denial was a politically
inspired attack on a member of the government that preceded French occupation
in 1796 (the petitioner, Girolamo Legnani, was a former senator), it also exemplifies
the anti-elitist rhetoric that helped fuel the reformation of funerary customs. On the
other hand, although church burials were forbidden across the entire Italian peninsula
from 1809, until the late 1800s many members of the elite were buried on country
estates, or in churches and religious institutions. In Lombardy, communal graves were
banned within cities in 1767, but church burial continued to be available to the
wealthy. This was justified in a pamphlet published in 1773 on the grounds that the
aristocratic tomb ‘raro foetor emanat’ (rarely smells).26 Similarly, in Tuscany, despite
the creation of suburban cemeteries in the late eighteenth century, traditional privileges
persisted as the upper classes continued to be buried in urban churches until the mid-
1800s. The antagonism of the nobility and clergy to burial reform hindered the
construction of new cemeteries with the result that a survey, conducted between 1880
and 1885, established that 59 cemeteries were still in use within built-up areas across
Italy.27
In the eighteenth century, burial reform and the creation of new cemeteries were
the subject of complex power struggles between political, religious and social groups
that endeavoured to manipulate funerary practices according to their own interests.
Reforms aimed at equality and social mobility generally stemmed from established
elements of Italian society, and most of the major advocates of burial reform, as well
as many of its opponents, were members of the clergy and upper classes. Insomuch
as it was socially progressive, the reformation of funerary practices was essentially a
14 A radical reform of burial practices
‘top-down’ revolution that was largely implemented by intellectual, political and
economic elites. In contrast, available evidence suggests that the ‘masses’ viewed the
suburbanisation of burials as a deviation from tradition.28 For instance, in 1774, the
diplomat Scipione Piattoli (1749–1809) expressed a scornful disregard for the opinions
of the general populace and their attachment to traditional forms of burial.29 Similarly,
in 1851, the architect Ferdinando Canonici (1780–1873) denounced the objections
of an ‘incredulous, ignorant and misled populace’ to the new cemetery of Ferrara.30
In the face of that ‘ignorant populace’, eighteenth-century Italian legislation embodied
provisions that were, in theory, aimed at greater social equality and a dignified burial
for all individuals. Ambitions for a more just and meritocratic society led architects
and social reformers to envisage a new type of cemetery within which the dead
would be awarded equal burial rights, or perhaps where distinctions might be based
on merit rather than wealth or social status. In that respect, it is possible to identify
two archetypal responses to social change in Italian funerary projects of the eighteenth
century. One was broadly egalitarian, although the manner in which that egalitarianism
was expressed was particular to Italy, and the resultant projects might involve little
more than communal graves in a walled suburban field. The second common response
was confined to unrealised academic or ‘paper projects’, which were grandiose,
idealistic and based on the notion of meritocracy.

Egalitarian burial in Italy


In the latter half of the eighteenth century, a new type of cemetery emerged in Italy
that promoted the ideal of equal burial rights for all, regardless of social distinctions,
merit, status or wealth. The new burial grounds conformed to legislation that served
to minimise social differences and to prohibit, or severely restrict, the construction of
funerary monuments. In Italy, as in France, traditional burial rituals were outlawed
by radical measures of the 1700s that closed cemeteries to the public and limited
attendance at the funeral procession to undertakers and priests. That legislation was
intended to reduce contamination and to restrict funerary rituals, which promoted
social differences and the power of the clergy. Death was seen as the ‘Great Equalizer’,
as reflected in the design by Ferdinando Fuga (1699–1781) for the Cemetery of the
Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves (Cimitero delle Trecentosessantasei Fosse) in
Naples, which was initiated in 1762 (Catalogue 17).31
As its name suggests, that cemetery provided 366 separate but communal vaults,
one for each day of the year, including leap years. On any given day, the dead were
placed into the appropriate vault, which would not be reopened until the following
year – a system that limited the risk of infection from putrefying flesh. From 1875,
corpses were loaded into a reusable metal coffin that was permanently attached to a
movable winch. At the beginning of each day, that apparatus was moved so that the
coffin, which was suspended vertically below the winch, could be lowered through a
small opening in the roof of the appropriate vault. When the coffin came into contact
with the remains already in a vault, a hinged section opened on impact and the corpse
was released. The device was intended to offset the ignobility of being thrown into a
vault without a coffin. The method of burial and the use of common graves nullified
distinctions between individuals, and the daily rotation between the submerged cells
reflected a view of death as ‘a necessary consequence [. . .] of the universal mechanism
established by the Eternal Author of nature’.32
A radical reform of burial practices 15

Figure 1.1 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves, Ferdinando Fuga,
1762
Source: The author (2012)

The Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves was relatively stark,
decidedly ‘mechanistic’ and markedly different from academic funerary projects that
embodied a monumental or high architecture. While innovative in terms of public
health, the cemetery was developed during an outbreak of cholera and was used
exclusively to accommodate the poor. It was established as part of a programme of
urban improvements that was backed by the enlightened reformism of King Charles
of Bourbon, and which continued after 1759 under his successor Ferdinand IV.33 While
Fuga’s cemetery was intended to resolve the issue of burying the poor, Charles also
commissioned Fuga to build the Albergo dei Poveri (1751), a vast poorhouse that was
meant to alleviate urban poverty by accommodating all of the city’s destitute, that is
an estimated 8,000 people.34 The success of the Cemetery of the Three Hundred and
Sixty-Six Graves is evidenced by the fact that it remained in use until 1890, and was
recommended as a model by the French architectural theorist Antoine-Chrysostome
Quatremère de Quincy (1755–1849).35 It was also highly praised by his Italian
colleague Francesco Milizia (1725–1798) in 1797, and was later adopted as the basis
for partially executed plans for cemeteries in Rome that were initiated under the
Napoleonic regime in 1811.36
Whereas work began on Fuga’s cemetery in Naples in 1762, it was not until the
1770s that burial reform began to affect a wider section of Italian society. The new
cemeteries of the late eighteenth century were generally developed under conditions
associated with an enlightened absolutism that was coloured by egalitarian principles.
Burial reforms were primarily, although not exclusively, concentrated within Tuscany,
Lombardy and other territories that were directly or indirectly controlled by the
16 A radical reform of burial practices

Figure 1.2 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves
Source: Courtesy of Paolo Giordano
A radical reform of burial practices 17

Figure 1.3 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves, reusable coffin
Source: The author (2012)

Austrians. In fact, Modena led the way in the application of egalitarian principles.37
In 1771, the Duke of Modena Francis III d’Este (1698–1780), whose dukedom was
a vehicle for influences that originated from the Habsburg regime, ordered the
construction of the suburban burial ground of San Cataldo, which was completed in
1773 (Catalogue 15). In 1774, the Duke went further and prohibited interment within
the city of Modena for reasons of public health. Although burial within existing chapels
on private estates was still permitted, the construction of new chapels was forbidden
throughout the duchy. This removed a privilege previously enjoyed by the landowning
classes and would eventually lead to the burial of all citizens within the public
graveyard. The plan instigated by the Duke determined that the new burial ground
was to be little more than a field enclosed by a dry moat. Guidelines established in
1774 that banned architectural embellishments on the basis that they might impede
ventilation also hindered the maintenance of social divisions. In fact, recognition of
class distinctions within Modena’s new burial ground was to be limited to the
designation of three separate communal graves, one destined for the aristocracy,
18 A radical reform of burial practices

Figure 1.4 Naples, Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves, recreation of a
funeral
Source: Courtesy of Paolo Giordano

another for the clergy and a third for those who distinguished themselves in battle,
or in the arts or sciences. The rest of the population was to be buried in mass graves,
which constituted a fourth element of the graveyard. In addition, the Duke opposed
the construction of a chapel within the new burial ground, supposedly in order to
preserve its secular nature. Limitations were also placed on funerary rituals ‘regardless
of the gender, class, or status of the dead’.38
Earlier, in 1765, the Duke of Modena had opposed plans for suburbanisation on
the grounds that urban interment was not harmful to the living.39 His subse-
quent reversal of that policy hints at the existence of political motives that were not
related to egalitarianism, hygiene or public welfare. As previously suggested, concerns
for public health provided a screen for political motives. Whereas, in Naples, the
Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves was established for the burial
A radical reform of burial practices 19
of the poor, the case of Modena shows how burial grounds created under the influence
of the Austrians affected a broader section of society and embodied efforts to erode
the privileges of the upper classes. In that respect, the Duke’s involvement with the
cemetery at Modena demonstrates the difficulties inherent in interpreting the notion
of egalitarianism within the political structures of eighteenth-century Italy. The
cemetery at Modena was socially inclusive in that, for example, it accommodated
both the executed and the executioner, whose remains had been previously excluded
from burial grounds. However, it is clear that the egalitarian nature of the project
did not follow solely from an ambition for social justice, but also from a strategy to
strengthen the power of the Duke at the expense of the local nobility and clergy. In
fact, the entire citizenry of Modena was designated for burial in the new cemetery
of San Cataldo with the exception of the Duke’s family – a separation that might be
taken to signal the Duke’s authority and political strategy. This episode raises the
question of whether idealism, or power, was the primary motivation for absolutist
reformers.40
Whether dictated by pure opportunism, or by a sense of supremacy that was tinged
with egalitarian ideals, the Duke’s plans met with resistance from Modena’s Tavola
di Stato, a governing body of local noblemen. Letters sent from the Duke to the
Tavola in 1774 show how Francis III, who in the letters is awarded the title of ‘Sua
Altezza Serenissima’ (‘His Very Serene Highness’), became increasingly irritated as
the aristocracy continued to obstruct his project.41 Modena’s governors attempted
to impose a list of noble families that might be excluded from the new graveyard.
When that condition failed to meet with the Duke’s approval, they proposed that
private monuments should be allowed within the burial ground. Again, their demands
were rejected by the Duke, who argued in strong terms that the nobles should
surrender their right to a family chapel in the name of ‘public health, which should
be the primary concern of all citizens’.42 Francis III’s attempts to centralise control in
other areas of government were also met with opposition. Typically, in eighteenth-
century Italy, the hostility of privileged groups impeded enlightened reformism.
The Duke commissioned the abbot Scipione Piattoli to write a pamphlet in support
of his reforms, which was published in 1774 under the title of Saggio intorno al luogo
del seppellire. Piattoli, then only 25, was at the beginning of a controversial career
during which he left the Church to become a Freemason, and worked as a tutor,
diplomat and as an advisor to the King of Poland and to the Tsar of Russia. He is
thought to have inspired the character of Abbé Morio in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace
(1869), and was renowned for his commitment to social reform and his opposition
to the old aristocratic order – a reputation that brought about his imprisonment in
Austria in 1794. In a scathing attack on the privileges of the elite, his pamphlet of
1774 denounced the principle by which society distinguished between the tomb of a
nobleman and a plebeian, whom Piattoli claimed to be equal as individuals with
a common human nature. Piattoli also argued that grandees should be remembered
for their illustrious deeds rather than for their capacity to create funerary monuments.
In a vehement counter-attack on Piattoli’s pamphlet, the friar Nicola Zannini argued
that to bury aristocrats, commoners and clergymen as equals would be to defy a natural
hierarchy created by God.43 For Zannini, the Duke of Modena’s ban on tombs within
family chapels represented a ‘usurpation’ of the rights of the aristocracy and their use
of private property. In response to Zannini’s accusations, another pamphlet written
in 1774 argued that ‘the Duke [Francis III] may dispose of the belongings of his subjects
20 A radical reform of burial practices
without it constituting usurpation . . . if it is required in the interests of public health’,
as under that condition the Duke ‘may forgo the interests of individuals’.44 Thus,
egalitarianism and the spirit of the Enlightenment were symptomatic of an ideological
context within which the rights and ambitions of the upper classes might be
subordinated to the public interest. However, by extension, those rights might also
be subject to the political ambitions of the Duke, or of any despot with the power to
define the public interest.
Both pressure from elites and practical difficulties eventually forced Duke Francis
III to compromise with respect to the nobility and to alter the layout of the cemetery
of San Cataldo. In 1777, the wealthy were granted permission to bury their dead in
a location of their choice outside of the city. Meanwhile, the cemetery of San Cataldo
was used for the burial of the poor until 1778, when it was adapted to accommodate
monuments, a chapel and the demands of a hierarchical social order. However, within
the political context of the late eighteenth century, the new cemetery at Modena
represented a significant attempt to realise a specific interpretation of ‘egalitarianism’.
It was not unique in that, in 1776, legislation was introduced in the Republic of Lucca,
which established that all citizens must be buried within the city cemetery, with the
exception of those with family chapels.45 Equally, in the territories occupied by the
Austrians, legislation was imposed to promote greater equality in the burial of all
citizens, despite resistance from the upper classes and the clergy. In Tuscany in 1782,
the Austrian Grand Duke Peter Leopold (1747–1792) laid down guidelines for the
construction of cemeteries wherein all citizens would be buried without social
distinctions.46 Those same guidelines resulted in the creation of the suburban cemetery
of Pisa (1782) as a walled field with elevated burial vaults and a modest chapel
(Catalogue 20). Peter Leopold was a ruler of great and varied learning, and a skilful
reformer who deployed his power to humanitarian ends. Nonetheless, opposition to
the Duke’s innovations was voiced, for example, by the Milanese writer and nobleman
Alessandro Verri (1741–1816), who, in 1785, argued that ‘whatever the pretext that
this expedient will prevent infections, many will be inclined to blame this tyrannical
practice on the common policies of the Austrian rulers’.47 While Verri supported
reformism, he saw the Austrian initiatives as driven by political expediency, rather
than enlightened ideals.
In 1784, Peter Leopold’s brother Joseph II (1741–1790), as Holy Roman Emperor
and ruler of Lombardy, extended the ban on church burials to include interment in
private tombs, and attempted to establish ‘egalitarian’ cemeteries without monuments
or chapels. Although only partially successful, his efforts resulted in the construction
of four suburban cemeteries in Milan that date from 1786.48 Known by the sobriquet
of fopponi or ‘large pits’, they were criticised as degrading to human dignity by
Alessandro Verri’s brother Pietro (1728–1797). With obvious belligerence, Pietro Verri
argued that the new cemeteries should accommodate ‘all without distinctions, including
the monarch’.49 As part of a circle of Milanese intellectuals inspired by principles of
the French Enlightenment, the Verri brothers had once looked to Joseph II as a ruler
with the capacity to generate a more just, equal and prosperous society. Autocratic,
stubborn and deeply religious, Joseph II proved to be a disappointment, and Alessandro
and Pietro Verri eventually expressed a disillusionment with enlightened absolutism
that became commonplace among Enlightenment thinkers in the 1780s and 1790s,
particularly as rulers drew back from idealism after the French Revolution.50
A radical reform of burial practices 21
Social tensions surrounding burial reform were also evident in late eighteenth-century
France, where a spate of commercial cemetery projects reinforced a social hierarchy
centred on birthright and relative wealth.51 For example, in Jean-Charles Delafosse’s
design of 1776, concentric circles delineate areas for different social groups and the
poor are relegated to a semicircular exedra. However, French initiatives to build
suburban cemeteries, whether promoted by public authorities or private enterprise,
were generally unsuccessful. Legislation of 1765 that prohibited urban interment
resulted in the creation of only one new suburban cemetery, when, under Louis XV,
the cemetery of Saint-Louis was removed to the outskirts of Versailles. As Richard
Etlin has pointed out, between the 1740s and the French Revolution, the construction
of new burial grounds in France was hindered by the fact that power was divided
under the ancien régime between the monarchy, parliament and the municipalities.52
Later, during the revolutionary decade (1789–1799), plans to build new cemeteries
were obstructed largely by conditions associated with political unrest. It was not until
1804 that the centralisation of power in the hands of Napoleon created economic and
political circumstances that allowed for the construction of new suburban cemeteries
in France. Meanwhile, the existence in Italy of comparatively strong local powers
facilitated the earlier implementation of burial reforms. It is interesting, therefore, that
although attempts to build suburban burial grounds were more successful in eighteenth-
century Italy, historians have traditionally pointed to France as the primary agent of
burial reform in the 1700s.53 By contrast, the evidence suggests that French and Italian
burial reforms were interdependent and mutually influential in the period between
1760 and 1800.54 Moreover, a significant number of new cemeteries was built in Italy
as the result of eighteenth-century reforms, whereas prior to the nineteenth century,
French attempts to establish suburban burial grounds were largely fruitless. In
comparison to the situation in France, Italian enlightened despots were relatively
successful in their efforts to introduce ‘egalitarian’ principles into funerary practice
and to generate new suburban cemeteries. That is reflected, for example, in the creation
of cemeteries in Naples (1762), Modena (1774), Lucca (1774), Livorno (1775) and
Pisa (1782), and the four graveyards that were founded in Milan in 1786. Reform
was particularly evident in territories that were under the influence of the Austrians
and their interpretation of enlightened absolutism. In contrast, in 1797, following the
foundation in Venice of a democratic republic under the aegis of the French, a
proposal to alter burial customs according to egalitarian principles was rejected, in
part, on the grounds that legislation would be unable to change deep-rooted funerary
traditions.55

The academies and post-mortem meritocracy


Unlike the ‘egalitarian’ projects that called for greater equality, funerary designs created
within Italian academies between the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries
tended to divide the dead on the basis of personal merit, as opposed to the outright
suppression of social hierarchies and distinctions based on wealth or power. In France
and Italy of the late 1700s, a considerable number of new cemetery projects emerged
within the academies as the ideological interests behind burial reform were invested
in a new architectural type. The cemetery offered an ideal vehicle for neoclassicism
and theoretical designs that might be set on an open or idealised site, and which might
embody geometrical plans and forms of an intransigent purity. Funerary architecture,
22 A radical reform of burial practices

with its limited functional requirements, allowed for the expression of cultural
imperatives through stylistically powerful designs that, although seldom realised, were
inspired by the prospect of public investment. Within the context of the academies,
the potential for social reform was coloured by visions of a utopian and meritocratic
society that drew on historical sources in order to affirm a sense of human dignity.
Some designs evoked secular notions of immortality rooted in the humanism of the
Renaissance; that is, in an immortality based on merit and noble acts.56 That plea for
meritocracy was also reflected in the ideals of the architectural theorist Francesco
Milizia, whose highly influential Principj di architettura civile (1781) was a major
conduit for the principles of the French Enlightenment in Italy and played a significant
part in shaping Italian neoclassicism. As an advocate of model cemeteries within which
the dead would be buried on the basis of merit, Milizia attributed to cemeteries the
role of ‘educating the living and the future generations, and stimulating their virtue
and happiness with the example of glorious men’.57
The nature of academic funerary architecture was reflected in the 1795 competition,
or Concorso Clementino, of the Academy of St Luke in Rome, which required that
submissions should embody a circular piazza with a sepulchral chapel.58 That
competition was significant in that it marked the abandonment of the late baroque
and the adoption of neoclassicism. One of the joint first prizes was awarded to
Giovanni Campana, whose design incorporated a façade inscribed with a verse from
St John’s Gospel: ‘And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the
resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation’.59
Whereas this is a Christian maxim, it was also intended to suggest that the dead might
be distinguished in accordance with their moral history.

Figure 1.5 Giovanni Campana, project submitted to Concorso Clementino, 1795


Source: Courtesy of Rome, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Archivio Storico
A radical reform of burial practices 23
Inspired by the Napoleonic Edict of Saint-Cloud (1804), the Roman Concorso
Clementino of 1805 was more explicit than that of 1795. It combined the idea of
social equality with the celebration of personal achievement and called for a:

Cemetery . . . composed of a vast enclosure with Porticoes . . . and an isolated


Chapel in the middle . . . to contain monuments to Men who have distinguished
themselves because of their origins, dignity, [and] character, or to the most
illustrious in the Arts and Sciences.60

Thus, distinction was to be awarded on the grounds of merit rather than exclusively
on the basis of birthright. The designs of the first- and second-prize winners,
Gioacchino Conti and Giovanni Passinati, classified the dead according to a range of
worthy professions that, together with the clergy and the nobility, were separated
from the remains of the less distinguished who were buried in a common grave in the
central field. Architectural references to the Roman Pantheon, and to ancient baths
and catacombs, endowed the winning designs with a certain gravitas and gave weight
to their meritocratic aims.
In 1835, the Concorso Clementino again invited architects to submit ambitious
designs for a vast cemetery to serve the population of a great, but imaginary, capital.
In addition to porticoes for the accommodation of monuments for the most illustrious
families, the brief called for ‘four large and distinguished buildings’ for ‘the highest
orders of the state, which are the clergy, the governors, the scientists and artists, and
the military’.61 This points to the emergence of a society wherein status might be
acquired through personal merit, as well as through inherited privileges. In response,
the winning project submitted by the architect Felice Cicconetti incorporated four
pavilions, and divided the dead according to their role in the professions and the institu-
tions of the Church or state. Whereas it was remarkable in its call for monumentality,
the 1835 competition was probably intended to impact the development of Rome’s
Verano cemetery. Generally, the idealism inherent in the designs submitted to the
Academy of St Luke influenced other theoretical projects, such as Giuseppe Valadier’s
proposal of 1807 for a Roman cemetery that would offer an honourable burial to
‘distinguished Figures, who deserve the gratitude of humanity, or who achieved
greatness for their talents’.62 Although meritocratic ideals and academic funerary
projects were significant with respect to Italian culture and the influence of the
Enlightenment, the political structures of eighteenth-century Italy were more productive
in the creation of suburban cemeteries that reflected a particular definition of
egalitarianism. Meritocracy was largely confined to the realms of theory.
France was perhaps the greater force in the creation of academic funerary projects,
and the foremost source of monumental architecture that was ennobled by
archaeological references and visions of meritocracy. In their form and function,
funerary designs generated by Italian architects within the context of the academies
were heavily influenced by French projects created in the latter half of the 1700s.63
For example, Giovanni Campana’s entry to the 1795 Concorso Clementino echoes a
French design for a sepulchral chapel of the 1780s by Etienne-Eloy de La Barre that
also featured a circular temple surrounded by pyramids.
The desire to organise the deceased according to their occupation provided another
common link between French and Italian academic projects. For example, Jean-Nicolas
Jomard’s design for a public cemetery, submitted for the French Grand Prix of 1799,
24 A radical reform of burial practices

Figure 1.6 Giovanni Campana, project submitted to Concorso Clementino, 1795


Source: Courtesy of Rome, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Archivio Storico

is compatible with entries to the 1805 Concorso Clementino in Rome in that the dead
were arranged in a hierarchical order based on the merit of an individual’s occupation.
The highest honour was awarded to those buried in a central chapel that was modelled
on the ancient Roman mausoleum of Augustus. Such projects, created within French
and Italian academies, heralded the evolution of a bourgeois society for which work
would be a defining element of the status awarded to the dead. It is difficult to identify
a two-way relationship between Italian and French projects, or to assess whether
Italian projects had any influence in France. A mausoleum designed by the Italian
architect Felice Palmerini, which was awarded first prize in a 1762 competition at
the Clementina Academy in Bologna, is akin to a later French project by Louis-Jean
Desprez for a parish cemetery in that both embody a pyramid on a square base
encircled by vertical elements (columns or obelisks). Yet, this does not necessarily
imply that an Italian architect influenced a French funerary design, as similarities may
be due to derivations from a common source, which in this case may have been the
mausoleum at Halicarnassus of 350 BC. The use of a shared architectural vocabulary
stemmed from a common cultural context within which grandeur was generally
expressed through emblematic classical devices. Moreover, in both French and Italian
funerary architecture of the eighteenth century, the generative principle was the court
with porticoes that were ideally intended to accommodate the tombs of great men –
an established format that echoed the thirteenth-century Campo Santo in Pisa (see
Figure 2.4 in Chapter 2). French and Italian funerary projects also reflected common
social processes in that they both embodied meritocratic ideals and foreshadowed the
importance accorded to work and the professions in nineteenth-century cemeteries.
Although not generally executed, the academic projects of France and Italy were highly
A radical reform of burial practices 25
influential in the emergence of forces that would eventually adopt a particular
architectural form in Italy’s monumental cemeteries of the nineteenth century.
In summary, from the mid-1700s, a deep-seated reformation of European funerary
customs arose from a conjunction of practical considerations and cultural imperatives
associated with the Enlightenment. As indicated by Philippe Ariès, Richard Etlin
and others, the intellectual leadership exercised by France in the context of the
Enlightenment was instrumental in the reform of European burial practices and
innovations in academic funerary design. However, it is also important to recognise
the relative power and autonomy of Italian initiatives with respect to the design and
construction of new cemeteries in the 1700s. Italy constituted an arena for real change
and developments that embodied the inevitable corruption of an ideal – a situation
that has been largely neglected in previous accounts of European funerary architecture.
Within Italy, traditions associated with church burial and rigid social hierarchies ran
counter to a network of emergent political and cultural forces. The treatment of the
dead was seen to be expressive of a new social order, and of the ambitions and conflicts
inherent in that order. The ‘egalitarian’ cemeteries sprang mainly from efforts to draw
power from the nobility and the Church into the hands of enlightened despots, and
from other processes that remained active in Italian politics throughout the nineteenth
century. The impact on burial reform of complex power struggles that were simul-
taneously local and international, secular and religious, demonstrated that death and
funerary practices were integral to the politics of the living. In that sense, the creation
of both new suburban cemeteries and unrealised academic projects can be characterised
as different responses to Italy’s developing political and social structures in the second
half of the eighteenth century. On one hand, a mixture of enlightened and opportunistic
absolutism led to the creation of ‘egalitarian’ cemeteries that were part of the practical
exercise of power and politics as conducted on the ground. On the other, unrealised
funerary designs endorsed neoclassical visions of a utopian social order that was largely
based on personal merit. Thus, funerary architecture expressed both the real and ideal
faces of Italian politics, which later evolved under influences generated by the
Napoleonic regime of the early 1800s, the Restoration and the creation of the Italian
nation state. In effect, the monumental cemeteries, which came to reflect the nature
of bourgeois society and political pressures that characterised the new Italy, were
seeded by forces that emerged in Italian and broader European contexts in the
eighteenth century.

Two European traditions: monumental and garden cemeteries


Before addressing the development of the Italian monumental cemetery, it is important
to note that two traditions of funerary architecture emerged within nineteenth-century
Europe as a direct consequence of burial reform in the 1700s. The common influence
of the Enlightenment, and later of Napoleonic legislation, across Italy and other parts
of Europe did not result in a uniform approach to the design of burial grounds. On
the contrary, two distinct types arose in the form of the picturesque and monumental
cemeteries of the nineteenth century. Picturesque, or garden, cemeteries that drew on
the elegiac potential of the landscape and myths of Arcadia prevailed within Northern
Europe and North America. Père-Lachaise (1804) in Paris was the first, and arguably
the most renowned, garden cemetery of the nineteenth century.64 It established a
prototype that was based on an open area that was crossed by winding paths and
26 A radical reform of burial practices

Figure 1.7 London, Kensal Green cemetery, 1832


Source: The author (2012)

loosely punctuated by planting, private tombs and chapels. Widely known and much
admired, Père-Lachaise was influential in Europe and North America where, from the
1830s, culture and geography encouraged the adoption of picturesque principles in
funerary design. As a model, Père-Lachaise influenced the development, for example,
of Mount Auburn cemetery (1831) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Kensal Green
cemetery (1832) in London.65
In contrast, the monumental format was characterised by a planned and grandiose
layout that was articulated by a web of axial avenues and punctuated by major
buildings, such as chapels, gateways and porticoes. In that model, the fact that
architecture must prevail over the landscape implies considerable investment in a large
architectural and public framework. The monumental approach was popular in Italy,
Spain and Portugal, although social and political conditions in the Iberian Peninsula
meant that cemeteries generally lacked the scale and grandeur of their Italian
counterparts.66 In general, the major difference between the monumental and
picturesque models lies in the balance between architecture and landscape as evidenced
if, for example, Père-Lachaise (1804) is compared with the cemetery of Verona, begun
in 1828 (Catalogue 25).
Although there are exceptions, it might be said that ‘Northern’ and ‘Mediterranean’
countries were divided in terms of the adoption of either the picturesque or the
A radical reform of burial practices 27

Figure 1.8 Paris, Père-Lachaise cemetery, 1804


Source: The author (2009)

Figure 1.9 Verona, monumental cemetery, 1828


Source: The author (2012)

monumental model.67 To explore the north–south divide in European funerary


architecture of the 1800s would require a comprehensive investigation of the cultural,
religious, social and political conditions within different countries – a task that exceeds
the scope of this book. It is possible, however, to examine why the monumental
cemetery was embraced in Italy as a model that was appropriate to the distinctive
nature of Italian culture, politics and society in the nineteenth century.
28 A radical reform of burial practices

Notes
1 Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present
(London: Marion Boyars, 1976), 14–18 and The Hour of Our Death (London: Allen Lane,
1981), 29–92); Thomas W. Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal
Remains (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 94–7, 114–40.
2 Franco Venturi, Italy and the Enlightenment: Studies in a Cosmopolitan Century (New
York: New York University Press, 1972); Stuart Woolf, A History of Italy 1700–1860: The
Social Constraints of Political Change (London: Methuen, 1979), 77–91; John Robertson,
‘Enlightenment, Reform and Monarchy in Italy’, in Enlightened Reform in Southern Europe
and its Atlantic Colonies: C. 1750–1830, ed. Gabriel Paquette (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009).
3 Grazia Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi: Le origini settecentesche del cimitero extraurbano
(Bologna: Il Mulino, 2001), 27 and 186.
4 Ariès, The Hour of Our Death, 516–20; Richard A. Etlin, The Architecture of Death: The
Transformation of the Cemetery in Eighteenth-Century Paris (London: MIT Press, 1984),
300.
5 Howard Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life (London: Yale University Press, 1991),
367; Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 205 and 210; James Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture:
An Introduction to Funerary and Commemorative Buildings in the Western European
Tradition, with Some Consideration of Their Settings (Stroud: Sutton, 2002), 150–3.
6 M.S. Anderson, ‘The Italian Reformers’, in Enlightened Absolutism: Reform and Reformers
in Later Eighteenth Century Europe, ed. H.M. Scott (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan,
1990).
7 Detailed analysis of French texts is found in: Michel Vovelle, Mourir autrefois: Attitudes
collectives devant la mort aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: Éditions Gallimard/Julliard,
1974); Ariès, Western Attitudes toward Death and The Hour of Our Death; John
McManners, Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death among Christians
and Unbelievers in Eighteenth-Century France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).
For Italy, see: Stefania Buccini, Sentimento della morte dal barocco al declino dei lumi
(Ravenna: Longo, 2000); Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi; Maria Canella, Paesaggi della morte.
Riti, sepolture e luoghi funerari tra Settecento e Novecento (Milan: Carocci, 2010).
8 Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic (London: Tavistock, 1976), 3–21, 140–8 and ‘Of
Other Spaces’, in Heterotopia and the City: Public Space in a Postcivil Society, ed. Michiel
Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter (New York: Routledge, 2008), 19.
9 Letter of 23 February 1806 from P.-F.-M. Denis-Lagarde to Daniele Renier (Venice,
Archivio Storico Civico, 1806, Podestà Diverse, X, n. 358).
10 Research on the cleansing properties of trees, which was undertaken by the English natural
philosopher Joseph Priestley in the 1770s, proved highly influential throughout Europe.
Whereas vegetation was forbidden by the regulation of the cemetery of Modena in 1774
(Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, b. 131, ‘De
Cemeterij’, article 4), by 1782, it was allowed at the suburban cemetery of Pisa (Pisa,
Archivio di Stato, Comune di Pisa, Div. D, n. 996, 5 October 1782). On relevant scientific
developments, see also: Diego Carnevale, ‘Idee e progetti per la riforma cimiteriale nella
Napoli napoleonica: Tra riflessione medica ed esperienze tecniche’, Medicina nei secoli. Arte
e scienza 23/3 (2011), 641–6.
11 Although no drawings remain, apart from an outline of the plan drawn by a subsequent
architect, the project is described in a report as a porticoed court with four entrances, and
staircases that descended to a lower burial field (Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione
del Buon Governo, s. III, b. 132, 4 December 1810).
12 Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 215–32.
13 Scipione Piattoli, Saggio intorno al luogo del seppellire: Nuova edizione con note critiche
che ne distruggono il fondamento, e l’oggetto (Venice: Francesco Sansoni, 1774), 57; anon.
[Francesco Tognetti], Lettere sul grande cimitero di Bologna (location and publisher
unknown, 1802), 26.
14 Ariès, The Hour of Our Death, 45–51; Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 13.
15 Anna Maria Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione della morte a Roma: Cremationisti e massoni tra
Ottocento e Novecento’, Dimensione e problemi della ricerca storica 2 (1998), 56.
A radical reform of burial practices 29
16 In 1835, the Roman parish priest Giulio Cesare Gabrielli welcomed reformation as a return
to ancient customs (Rome, Archivio Storico del Vicariato, plico 14, ‘Proggetto sui Cimiterj’,
27 August 1835, 1–3). In contrast, in his Lettera apologetica (1772), the friar Nicola Zannini
vehemently attacked plans to build a suburban burial ground in Modena as contrary to
religion (Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 137–40).
17 Bologna, Archivio di Stato, Napoleonico, Archivio Departimentale, XI, b. 318, Bologna,
fasc. 1, ventoso anno IX/February 1801.
18 Venice, Archivio Storico Civico, 1806, Podestà Diverse, X, n, 358.
19 A.C. [?], Lettera sopra il nuovo cimitero di Roma (location and publisher unknown, 1835),
6 and 12–13.
20 Vovelle, Mourir autrefois, 204; also, Ariès, The Hour of Our Death, 469–72. For a
refutation of Vovelle’s theory, see: McManners, Death and the Enlightenment, 440–4.
21 Anon., Note critiche di Varii sopra un libretto intitolato Saggio intorno al luogo del
seppellire, 1775, quoted in Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 142.
22 Ariès, Western Attitudes toward Death, 27–52.
23 Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 183–6, 214.
24 Angelo Gatti, Guida al cimitero di Bologna (Bologna: L. Andreoli,1890), 19; anon.
[Tognetti], Lettere, 8. On the enduring power of the old elites in Bologna, see: Axel Körner,
Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy: From Unification to Fascism (London: Routledge, 2009),
21–7.
25 Bologna, Archivio di Stato, Napoleonico, Archivio dipartimentale, XI, b. 319, fasc. 10, 4
brumale anno X/26 October 1801.
26 Giuseppe Allegranza, De sepulcris christianis in aedibus sacris (Milan: Giuseppe Galeazzi,
1773), XXXIX.
27 Mario Panizza, Risultati dell’inchiesta istituita da Agostino Bertani sulle condizioni sanitarie
dei lavoratori della terra in Italia (Rome: Stabilimento Tip. Italiano, 1890), 143–56.
28 Buccini, Sentimento, 111.
29 Piattoli, Saggio, 77.
30 Ferdinando Canonici, Storia e descrizione dell’antica Certosa di Ferrara (Rovigo: A. Minelli,
1851), 42.
31 Paolo Giordano, ‘Le tre architetture sociali di Ferdinando Fuga’, in Ferdinando Fuga:
1699–1999. Roma, Napoli, Palermo (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2001), 211–22;
‘Il Cimitero delle 366 fosse e il Sepolcreto dei Colerici a Napoli’, in Gli spazi della memoria.
Architettura dei cimiteri monumentali europei (Rome: Sossella, 2005), 229–40; Il disegno
dell’architettura funebre: Napoli Poggio Reale, il Cimitero delle 366 fosse e il Sepolcreto
dei Colerici (Florence: Alinea, 2011), 89–180; Francesco Pezzini, ‘Disciplina della sepoltura
e rappresentazione della morte nella Napoli preunitaria’ (PhD diss., Scuola Normale Pisa,
2008); ‘Disciplina della sepoltura nella Napoli del Settecento. Note di una ricerca’, Studi
storici LI, 1 (2010).
32 That definition was provided by the Milanese writer Luigi Lambertenghi in 1765: N. N.
[Lambertenghi], ‘Sull’origine, e sul luogo delle sepolture’, Il Caffè VII, II (1765), republished
in Il Caffè: Ossia, brevi e vari discorsi distribuiti in fogli periodici, ed. Sergio Romagnoli
(Milan: Feltrinelli, 1960), 338.
33 Anderson, ‘The Italian Reformers’, 70–1; Robin L. Thomas, Architecture and Statecraft:
Charles of Bourbon’s Naples, 1734–1759 (Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania State University
Press, 2013), 171.
34 Thomas, Architecture and Statecraft, 46–91.
35 Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, Encyclopédie méthodique (Paris: Panckoucke,
1788), 680–1.
36 Francesco Milizia, Dizionario delle belle arti del disegno (Bassano: Remondini, 1797), vol.
I, 176; Laura Bertolaccini, Città e cimiteri: Dall’eredità medievale alla codificazione
ottocentesca (Rome: Edizioni Kappa, 2004), 95.
37 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, b. 131; also,
Massimo Bulgarelli, ‘L’affare delle sepolture a Modena nella seconda metà del XVIII secolo.
Questioni mediche, amministrative, tecniche, architettoniche, militari’, Storia urbana XIV,
51 (June 1990) and ‘La riforma delle sepolture nobiliari a Modena’, Studi storici: Rivista
trimestrale dell’Istituto Gramsci 31, 4 (December 1990); Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi,
73–106.
30 A radical reform of burial practices
38 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, b. 131, 2 July
1774, article IV.
39 Bulgarelli, ‘L’affare’, 11–13.
40 H.M. Scott, ‘Introduction: The Problem of Enlightened Absolutism’, in Enlightened
Absolutism, 1–35.
41 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, b. 131, 26 February
1774 and 30 March 1774.
42 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, 30 March 1774.
43 Nicola Zannini, Supplemento alla critica del cimitero modenese, 1774, quoted in Tomasi,
Per salvare i viventi, 139.
44 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Cancelleria Ducale, Carteggio di referendari, b. 131, Cavaliere
Manzoli, Risposta al supplemento alla critica del cimitero di Modena, 27 June 1774.
45 Maria Chiarlo et al., Guida all’Archivio Storico Comunale (Lucca: Maria Pacini Fazzi, 2007),
81.
46 Pisa, Archivio di Stato, Comune di Pisa, Div. D, 1522, c. 268, Istruzioni per la formazione
dei Camposanti a sterro. On Peter Leopold’s rule, see: Anderson, ‘The Italian Reformers’,
65–8.
47 Alessandro Verri, Elegia scritta in Firenze, 1785, republished in Marinella Ceretti,
‘Alessandro Verri e il problema delle sepolture’, Studi settecenteschi 15 (1995), 274.
48 An additional fifth cemetery, San Michele, was established in the late seventeenth century
as the burial ground of Milan’s main hospital.
49 Pietro Verri, ‘Intorno al seppellire i cadaveri’, ?1786, republished in Ceretti, ‘Alessandro
Verri’, 279.
50 Woolf, A History of Italy, 98–104 and 125–30; Anderson, ‘The Italian Reformers’, 68;
Robertson, ‘Enlightenment’.
51 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 65–76.
52 Richard A. Etlin, Symbolic Space: French Enlightenment Architecture and Its Legacy
(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 149, 229–82, 295–301.
53 Ariès, Western Attitudes toward Death and The Hour of Our Death; Etlin, The Architecture
of Death; McManners, Death and the Enlightenment.
54 For instance, the historian Grazia Tomasi highlighted the case of the Saggio (1774) by the
Italian Scipione Piattoli, which was published in 1778 in a French translation by the scientist
Vicq d’Azyr and much admired by Jean d’Alembert (Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 293–310).
Equally, the architectural historian Maria Canella exposed strong similarities between
legislation established in Lombardy in 1781 and French legislation that was introduced to
Italy in 1807 (Canella, Paesaggi, 83).
55 Annibale Alberti and Roberto Cessi, ed., Verbali delle sedute della Municipalità provvisoria
di Venezia 1797 in series 2, div. 1, section 3 of Atti delle assemblee costituzionali italiane
dal Medio Evo al 1831 (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1928), vol. I, 336–7; vol. II, 251–2.
56 Alberto Tenenti, Il senso della morte e l’amore della vita nel Rinascimento. Francia e Italia
(Turin: Einaudi, 1957), 21–47.
57 Francesco Milizia, Principj di architettura civile (Bassano: Remondini, 1813), 206.
58 Angela Cipriani, Paolo Marconi and Enrico Valeriani, ed., I disegni di architettura
dell’Archivio storico dell’Accademia di San Luca (Rome: De Luca, 1974), vol. I, 29.
59 John 5:29, trans. King James Version.
60 Cipriani et al., I disegni, 31.
61 Cipriani et al., I disegni, 32.
62 Giuseppe Valadier, Progetti architettonici per ogni specie di fabriche in stili ed usi diversi
(Rome: Incisore a Strada Felice n. 126, 1807), 15.
63 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 147; Gian Paolo Consoli, ‘La “nuova architettura del
nuovo secolo”: Temi e tipi’, in Contro il barocco: Apprendistato a Roma e pratica
dell’architettura civile in Italia 1780–1820 (Rome: Campisano, 2007), 151–4.
64 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 303; Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 260–5.
65 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 157 and 358–66. See also: Stanley French, ‘The Cemetery
as Cultural Institution: The Establishment of Mount Auburn and the “Rural Cemetery”
Movement’, American Quarterly 26, 1 (1 March 1974); James Stevens Curl, Kensal Green
Cemetery: The Origins and Development of the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal
A radical reform of burial practices 31
Green, London, 1824–2001 (Chichester: Phillimore, 2001); Blanche Linden, Richard Cheek
and Carol Betsch, Silent City on a Hill: Picturesque Landscapes of Memory and Boston’s
Mount Auburn Cemetery (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007).
66 Fernando Catroga, O céu da memória: Cemitério romântico e culto cívico dos mortos em
Portugal, 1756–1911 (Coimbra: Minerva, 1999); Julie Rugg and Francisco Queiroz,
‘Cemetery Development in Portugal, c. 1750–1900’, Mortality 8 (2003); Bertolaccini, Città
e cimiteri, 82–92.
67 On the north–south dichotomy in Western funerary architecture, see: Colvin, Architecture
and the After-Life, 369–70; Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture, 265–6. Exceptions
included, for example, English cemeteries that varied considerably in their format and
Scottish burial grounds, which were closer to Italian models: James Stevens Curl, ‘Scotland’s
Cities of the Dead’, The Architect 20, no. 2 (January 1978): 20–2. Equally, within North
America, cemeteries in Louisiana stood apart for their urban character: Leonard Huber,
Peggy McDowell and Mary L. Christovich, The Cemeteries, vol. 3 of New Orleans
Architecture (Gretna: Pelican, 1974).
2 The monumental cemetery as
a new architectural type

Italian cemeteries of the 1800s were markedly different from the ‘egalitarian’ burial
grounds of the previous century. Whereas older graveyards tended to be bare,
unadorned and closed to visitors, nineteenth-century cemeteries were lavish and
monumental sources of civic pride. Their axial plans and impressive monuments
expressed fundamental changes in Italian society, politics and culture, which gave rise
to a marked investment in funerary architecture and underlying public frameworks.
That investment was partly due to a combination of factors that were particular to
Italy. Other influences were broadly European, or came from France in the form, for
example, of Napoleonic legislation of 1804–1809. This chapter focuses on the cultural
developments that spurred the emergence of the Italian monumental cemetery as a
new architectural type, which reflected the nature of Italy’s contemporary society.

A brief history of nineteenth-century Italy


The nineteenth century was a period of turmoil and radical change in Italy. In the
last years of the eighteenth century, the entire mainland came under the control
of the French, who established a number of ‘sister republics’. During the period of
Napoleonic rule (1801–1814), Italy was divided into three territories: the Cisalpine
Republic (later annexed to France), the Republic of Italy (later the Kingdom of Italy)
and the Kingdom of Naples, which was established in 1806. Politically, French
conquest in the triennium of 1796–1799 marked a turning point as it brought an
abrupt end to enlightened absolutism in Italy.1 It also allowed for the emergence, within
the Italian public consciousness, of a mixture of revolutionary patriotism and com-
munitarianism, which gradually offset Enlightenment values and discredited the idea
that humanity might be bound together under cosmopolitanism. Italian Jacobinism
rejected political fragmentation in favour of the concept of one enlightened ruler, the
credo of national liberation, and unity as a necessary condition of social progress. In
fact, Francophile sentiments in Italy eventually eroded in the face of political
interference by the French and their indifference to Italian patriotic ambitions.
Following the departure of the French, and the Restoration of 1814–1815, Italy
was again made up of different states held by Italian and foreign rulers. With the
exception of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the north
of the peninsula was mostly under Austrian rule. The fall of Napoleon marked the
end of a period during which Italian culture was officially subject to rationalism,
empiricism and anticlericalism as elements of the European Enlightenment. The ruling
The monumental cemetery 33

Figure 2.1 Italy in 1799


Source: The Cambridge Modern History Atlas 1912, reproduced by kind permission of the Master and
Fellows of Magdalene College Cambridge and the Edward Stanford Cartographic Collection
34 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.2 Italy in 1815–1870


Source: Shepherd’s Historical Atlas 1924, reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge
University Library

ideology of the Restoration meant the rejection of the primacy of French culture and
its secular and ahistorical definition of reason, and the reinstatement of social and
political hierarchies and associated concepts of morality and community.2 That
ideology also engendered a historicism that drew support from the exploitation of the
past. The new order, based on legitimacy and established values, was supported by
the Catholic Church and underpinned by those elements of romanticism that promoted
instinct over reason, and tradition over innovation. Nonetheless, the period of French
occupation, and the reactions it evoked, left an enduring mark on Italian culture, as
it sparked patriotic and nationalist aspirations that could not be suppressed. The period
of 1820–1849 brought a series of minor revolutions and declarations of independence
The monumental cemetery 35
in the republics of Venice and Rome, and in other Italian cities.3 Those revolutions
were relatively short-lived, as was the First War of Independence (1848–1849), which
failed to dislodge the Austrians from northern Italy. However, the tendency to revolt
was symptomatic of the growing strength of an opposition to the Restoration, which
drew on liberal, patriotic and democratic ideals, a romantic sense of liberty, and a
belief in progress, political independence and a ‘fraternity of peoples’. That mixture
of romanticism and nationalism drove the Risorgimento and the struggle for Italian
independence.4 Ultimately, the efforts of a small number of influential patriots,
together with a fortunate coincidence of national and international events, led to the
unification of Italy. The Second War of Independence (1859) resulted in the creation
of a new Italian state under the Savoy dynasty in 1861, to which Venetia (Veneto and
part of Friuli) and Rome were annexed in 1866 and 1870, respectively. In the
1840s–1890s, Italian nationalism was flanked by another major ideological force in
the form of the Catholic revival, which constituted a counter-attack against
anticlericalism and threats to the power of the Church. The Breach of Porta Pia (1870),
which marked the demise of the Papal State and Rome’s annexation to the new Italy,
was a decisive moment in relations between clerical and secular powers in Italy.5 It
constituted a flashpoint in a ‘culture war’ that pitched Catholics against forces, which
combined nationalism with an insistence on secularisation.
Italy’s monumental cemeteries emerged in the early 1800s against a background
that was remarkable in the variety of influences exerted by a number of dominant
powers, such as the French, the Austrians and the papacy, and by a medley of home-
grown movements and cultural forces that sprang from the Enlightenment and
romanticism. The subsequent foundation of the Italian nation state in 1861 also
represented a major shift in the parameters that underpinned the creation of public
cemeteries. Thus, the overall development of Italian funerary architecture must be
understood in terms of the political and legislative conditions that were established
under the various regimes, a complex and dynamic set of local imperatives, and
philosophical or ideological influences that were essentially pan-European.

The changes brought by Napoleonic legislation


The French Edict of Saint-Cloud (1804), which was introduced into Napoleonic Italy
through a number of decrees in 1806–1809, prohibited burial in churches and
churchyards, and established a minimum distance for the location of new cemeteries
from built-up areas.6 Burial within municipal cemeteries was made obligatory, with
the exception of bishops and a small minority that might be honoured within a civic
‘pantheon’. Whereas burial within churches or religious establishments was
traditionally available to the upper classes, the new French legislation determined that
public cemeteries should be socially inclusive. Greater demand led to an increase in
the size and number of new cemeteries, and the nature of those cemeteries demonstrated
how Napoleonic legislation differed from earlier measures on three interrelated counts.
First, the Edict of Saint-Cloud granted the clergy the right to carry out funerary
rituals within new cemeteries, which prompted the construction of chapels that could
accommodate funerals. That concession represented a major realignment on the part
of the Napoleonic regime as it signalled a shift away from the eighteenth-century
graveyards that were associated with enlightened absolutism, and which were
exclusively secular, disassociated from worship and closed to the public. In time, those
36 The monumental cemetery
changes contributed to a situation whereby many publicly owned cemeteries were
administered by the clergy, which exacerbated tensions between Church and state as
they struggled for power and influence within the newly unified Italy.
Second, the French edict forbade communal burial and allowed for individual graves
to be marked by a wooden cross, or a slab bearing an epitaph. Although for much
of the eighteenth century mass burial had been the norm, in the last decades of the
1700s the right to an individual grave, and the urge to mark the location of each
corpse, reflected a respect for the individual and human dignity that was fostered by
the Enlightenment.7 In 1783, instructions issued to the custodians of the new cemetery
in Pisa allotted an individual plot for each corpse, thereby granting ‘the Decency, and
Piety, which is due to the dead’.8 The impetus for individual graves reflected an
emergent individualism in that, whereas traditional church burials had carried social
privileges for the elite, the slab and free-standing tomb expressed new definitions of
individuality and social status. Thus, writing in 1812, the architect charged with the
design of the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples noted that the communal vaults of the
existing Cemetery of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves (see Chapter 1) failed
to satisfy ‘public opinion, . . . class distinction, [and] the honour of families’.9 In fact,
when Poggioreale was opened in 1837, the provision of single plots was praised because
it allowed relatives to identify the location of their dead (Catalogue 16).10 However,
the abandonment of mass burial also reflected concerns regarding public health. As
early as 1765, unexecuted plans to build a suburban cemetery at Modena made
provision for separate graves on the basis of hygiene.11 In 1840, 30-year-old communal
vaults at the Napoleonic cemetery of Pigneto Sacchetti in Rome were condemned as
unhygienic, old-fashioned and fit for demolition.12 Thus, in the nineteenth century,
the focus shifted from the isolation of the dead from the living to an emphasis on
individuality, dignity and commemoration.
Third, from 1807, Napoleonic legislation allowed funerary monuments to be
located along the perimeters of cemeteries in the form of slabs and, from 1811, as
more elaborate monuments. Those changes reflected the emergence of a new social
order within which distinctions were determined not by birth, but by wealth or status
– an order within which the bourgeoisie rather than the nobility would take centre
stage. Thus, in betraying the egalitarian ideals of the eighteenth century, the organ-
isation of cemeteries responded to bourgeois demands for funerary monuments, and
for the recognition of social distinctions in funerary architecture as an essential,
and defining, characteristic of society.
The differences between Italian cemeteries of the nineteenth century and their
predecessors are evident if the fopponi, or eighteenth-century burial grounds in the
suburbs of Milan, are compared with the monumental cemetery initiated in the nearby
city of Brescia in 1815. Begun in 1786, Milan’s fopponi were essentially walled fields,
places of mass burial, within which a limited number of slabs were aligned along the
perimeter.13 In contrast, the cemetery at Brescia embodies a large and axial layout
with private graves and public monuments (Catalogue 2). Named the Vantiniano after
its designer, the architect Rodolfo Vantini (1791–1856), Brescia’s new burial ground
represented a starting point in the development of the Italian monumental cemetery.
It was the first of its kind to be built in Italy ex novo, and as a result of Napoleonic
burial reforms. Prior to its foundation in 1815, new cemeteries were established in
Bologna in 1801 and in Ferrara in 1811, but within suppressed monasteries that were
adapted to function as burial grounds (Catalogues 1 and 7). Those conversions
The monumental cemetery 37

Figure 2.3 Brescia, monumental cemetery, main court, 1815


Source: The author (2012)

reflected efforts on the part of the French to shift funerary practices to the outskirts
of cities. Although constructed after the departure of the French, Brescia was the earliest
manifestation in Italy of Napoleonic burial legislation, and as the first of the large,
purpose-built, suburban cemeteries, it acted as a prototype for Italian funerary
architecture.
In accordance with the three innovations of Napoleonic legislation, the new cemetery
at Brescia made provision for a chapel, individual graves and the construction of private
monuments. Whereas Milan’s fopponi had conformed to Austrian legislation of 1784
that restricted private memorials, in allowing for the creation of individual graves,
monuments and chapels, the cemetery at Brescia accommodated the social aspirations
of the rising middle classes. The egalitarian intentions of an earlier generation gave
way to new demands that elevated Italy’s burial grounds above the status of a bare
field. Emergent cultural imperatives meant, for example, that at the cemetery of San
Michele in Isola in Venice a project for a simple walled enclosure and a modest chapel
was altered in 1812 to include a portico to shelter private monuments (Catalogue
24).14 However, although that development responded to the decree of 1811 that
allowed greater freedom in the creation of monuments, the monumentality of new
projects went beyond the parameters set by new legislation. In fact, the grandeur of
the cemeteries at Brescia, Venice and elsewhere was evidence of significant public
investment, and of the emergence of a range of new social and civic functions whose
existence, or exact form, were not envisioned by legislators.

The Italian monumental tradition and its sources


The monumental turn in Italian funerary architecture of the nineteenth century drew
heavily on native traditions and models in order to satisfy the demands of an immediate
38 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.4 Pisa, Campo Santo, 1278


Source: The author (2009)

culture. Italian funerary designers borrowed from historical sources that could be
harvested for their political and cultural associations. In primis, the thirteenth-century
Campo Santo in Pisa was an important precedent. Built between 1278 and 1348,
the Campo Santo anticipated the detachment of the Christian cemetery from a church
or monastery.15 It was highly successful in that it provided Pisa’s elite with an ornate
cemetery ennobled by monuments, sarcophagi and other antiquities that were deposited
in the cemetery over the centuries. The Campo Santo was said to contain earth brought
back from the Holy Land that could reduce a corpse to a skeleton within 24 hours.
Its popularity also rested on the fact that it retained a traditional social hierarchy, as
the monuments of the wealthy were located under the cemetery’s porticoes while the
poor were buried in open ground.
While it still served as a burial place in the nineteenth century, the Campo Santo
was a much admired and popular destination for tourists from Italy and abroad,
and its significance was underwritten by travelogues and art historical texts.16 For
example, in 1854, it was described by the writer Giuseppe Rovani (1818–1874) as
the first monumental cemetery and an ‘unsurpassable model of architecture’.17
Similarly, the influential French theorist Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy,
in his Encyclopédie méthodique (1788), and later in his Dictionnaire historique de
l’architecture (1832), recommended the layout of the Campo Santo and its porticoed
‘cloister’ as a model for modern cemeteries.18 Translated into Italian in the middle
of the nineteenth century, the Dictionnaire was highly influential within Italy.
Significantly, in the 1840s, Quatremère de Quincy’s Italian collaborator, the architect
and revolutionary patriot Luigi Tatti (1808–1881), used the Campo Santo as a model
for the new cemetery of Como that was arranged on the basis of arcaded courts
(Catalogue 5).
The monumental cemetery 39
The Campo Santo had the power to satisfy a romantic interest in mortality, while
serving as an ideal model in terms of the social pressures that shaped the Italian
cemetery. It also played to patriotic aspirations in that it was initiated at the height
of Pisa’s medieval republic, and the reverence once afforded to Pisa’s illustrious dead
could be associated, within the political frameworks of the nineteenth century, with
the strength of the city state and freedom from external oppression.19 Hence, the
Campo Santo offered a prototype through which the new urge for commemoration
could be linked to an emergent nationalism and civic consciousness. In 1860, the archi-
tect and historian Pietro Selvatico (1803–1880) presented the Campo Santo as the
model for a proposed cemetery at Padua on the basis that, ideologically, it expressed
a glorious past of prosperity and political independence, while architecturally it
formed the blueprint for the modern Italian cemetery as a rectangular cloister.20
As prototypes, the power of the Campo Santo and the generic cloister lay partly in
associations with another major source of influence that sprang from a tradition, which
was both cultural and religious in nature, whereby the wealthy were buried in churches
and monastic institutions. In fact, in 1812, the Prefect of Rome called for ‘the most
distinguished families in the city’ to adopt the porticoes of Rome’s public cemetery
for their private tombs ‘as they used to within the city’s churches’.21 Traditionally, in
addition to church burial, the wealthy were buried in convents and monasteries in
exchange for a fee. Wills left by some members of the Neapolitan aristocracy between
the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries indicate that religious foundations were
particularly favoured because of their capacity to ‘protect, separate, [and] isolate’ the
elite within their walls.22 Thus, a direct link with tradition was established in Bologna
in 1801 when a civic cemetery was founded within a suppressed certosa, a Carthusian
monastery that dated from the fourteenth century. This was the first major endeavour
to result from Napoleonic initiatives and, in 1811, it prompted the creation of a similar
project for a dissolved certosa in Ferrara.23
Both projects arose from conditions that were pragmatic and economically and
politically expedient. Monasteries that dated back to the Renaissance, but which were
dissolved under the Napoleonic regime, yielded suburban sites in public ownership
that might be easily adapted to accommodate burial. At both Bologna and Ferrara,
monastic churches were retained as chapels, cloisters were used to house wall monu-
ments, and cells that were once occupied by monks were adapted to accommodate
tombs. In addition, as cemeteries, the dissolved monasteries embodied symbolic values
and associations with tradition. In fact, in a Napoleonic decree of 1801, the certosa
at Bologna is described as being ideally suited for use as a graveyard and to be ‘destined
by nature, and by art, for the benefit and well-being of the population’.24 Similarly,
as early as 1773, the influential botanist Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti (1712–1783)
identified the monastery of San Miniato in Florence as the ideal location for a new
cemetery, partly on the basis that ‘its shrine, which is greatly venerated by the people,
would give the new cemetery a certain prestige, and would help for it to be considered
equivalent to burial in a parish church’.25 Roughly eighty years later, San Miniato
was appointed as the site of the city’s new cemetery (Catalogue 8).
While the cloistered layout of Italian cemeteries echoed the model of the Campo
Santo and an attachment to the custom of burial in churches and monasteries,
individual elements in the architecture and planning of new burial grounds were shaped
by other influences. One such influence was the sacro monte, a Renaissance tradition
40 The monumental cemetery

whereby chapels were set within a landscape, typically along an ascending pathway
that accommodated life-size, and lifelike, statuary depicting religious scenes.26 Located
largely in the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, the sacri monti are a relatively
unique phenomenon that sprung from a desire to offer an alternative destination for
pilgrims in the late fifteenth century, when travel to the Holy Land was becoming
increasingly hazardous. Italian monumental cemeteries of the nineteenth century are
akin to the sacri monti in that the visitor is engaged by means of a planned landscape
and structured experiences – as at the earliest sacro monte (begun 1491) at Varallo,
which was intended to reproduce the topography of Mount Sion and the city of
Jerusalem. Arguably, Varallo is comparable to the cemetery as a ‘city of the dead’, or
as a symbolic and miniaturised representation of a urban environment whose
organisation serves to feed the collective memory.27
In terms of traditions and typologies, the funerary architecture of ancient Rome
was also influential in that, from around 1816, the ancient loculus was revived within
Italian cemeteries in the form of individual ‘cells’ in which the dead were stacked in
gridded structures that are reminiscent of Roman columbaria. Early examples were
constructed in 1816 by the architect Angelo Venturoli (1749–1821) in the Sala della
Pietà of Bologna’s Certosa cemetery and, in 1819, by the architect Rodolfo Vantini
at the municipal cemetery of Brescia.28 The loculi satisfied a preference for burial in
vaults that was rooted in Italian religious and social traditions, and its adoption in
the nineteenth century might be taken to express a desire to revive native customs.
With respect to individual models, other major Italian influences on the monumental
cemeteries were provided, for example, by the Pantheon and the Basilica of San
Lorenzo in Rome, and the temples of Vesta (Tivoli), Vespasian and Titus (Roman

Figure 2.5 Brescia, monumental cemetery, loculi, 1819


Source: The author (2012)
The monumental cemetery 41

Figure 2.6 Rome, Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura, sixth century, rebuilt nineteenth
and twentieth centuries
Source: The author (2012)

Figure 2.7 Verano cemetery, main chapel, 1860


Source: The author (2012)
42 The monumental cemetery

Forum) and Fortuna (Palestrina).29 In terms of particular buildings, the Pantheon (AD
118–28) was a dominant source of inspiration for the main chapels in Italian
cemeteries, especially after the Restoration (1815), for reasons that will be fully
explored in Chapter 4. Generally, as is the nature of historicism, native historical
references were deployed because they were appropriate to immediate cultural and
political conditions – conditions that at the macro-level were defined, for example,
by nationalism, local patriotism, the growing power of the bourgeoisie and specifically
Italian interpretations of romanticism and the Enlightenment.
Overall, the extent to which the Campo Santo and the Pantheon appear as references
is striking, although their influence was usually subject to interpretation. A porticoed
quadrangle and a Pantheon-like chapel constituted the main architectural com-
ponents of many of the new monumental cemeteries. As at Brescia, the chapel might
be placed at the centre of the main façade of a cemetery, and in line with an avenue
leading to its entrance (see Figure 4.10 in Chapter 4). Alternatively, the main chapel
might face onto the inner court, either flanking the entrance as at Modena, or opposite
the entrance as at Verona. Focal points within a plan, such as midpoints and corners,
were sometimes marked by subsidiary chapels that might take the form of smaller
and simplified versions of the main Pantheon-like chapel, as at the monumental
cemetery in Livorno (Catalogue 11). There were many variations on this theme, and
plans could be shaped by tensions that underpinned local political and cultural
contexts. In Brescia, traditionally a ‘white city’ (città bianca) or stronghold of
Catholicism, the church stands in a prominent position at the entrance to the cemetery.
In contrast, the monumental cemetery of Milan has a distinctly secular and civic
character, which reflects an anticlericalism that was common to elements of the city’s
elite (Catalogue 14). In 1870, it was decided that Milan’s Monumentale cemetery
should accommodate a secular temple dedicated to worthy Milanese and that this
temple should occupy a central location, which was initially destined for a church.30
Thus, the arrangement of the primary elements of a cemetery could express ideological
pressures, or struggles between different forces, which might otherwise be masked by

Figure 2.8 Verona, monumental cemetery, view from entrance towards main chapel,
Giuseppe Barbieri, 1828
Source: The author (2012)
The monumental cemetery 43
the idealistic rhetoric of the Risorgimento. In general, the layout of the plan and the
use of historical references might be understood in relation to a network of conflicting
forces that divided Church and state, liberals and conservatives, the religious and the
agnostic, and the interests of the nation and of the individual city or region.

The rejection of the garden cemetery


Whereas an attachment to Italian models and traditions was a major determinant in
the making of the monumental cemetery, it was also symptomatic of the precedence
awarded to the monumental as opposed to the picturesque or garden cemetery.
Rather than examine the role of individual elements such as the Campo Santo,
Pantheon, Roman columbarium or sacro monte, the forces that underpinned the
emergence of Italy’s new cemeteries can be exposed through an analysis of the choice
between the picturesque and monumental formats, or why the latter triumphed over
the former. It is remarkable that the picturesque model, as epitomised by the cemetery
of Père-Lachaise (1804) in Paris, was highly influential in Northern Europe and North
America but not in Italy – despite being widely known among nineteenth-century
Italians and often quoted as a potential prototype.31 Although there were strong
parallels between the neoclassicism of French and Italian academic funerary projects
in the late eighteenth century, in the early 1800s, as the French turned towards the
picturesque and the model of Père-Lachaise, Italian architects maintained an allegiance
to the monumental. Hence, in the period prior to the Restoration in 1815, funerary
design in Napoleonic Italy remained wedded to neoclassicism and French models of
the late 1700s. In time, there were echoes of the garden cemetery; for example, in the
extensions to the Poggioreale in Naples (1830s), the Verano in Rome (1870s) and the
Staglieno in Genoa (1870s, Catalogue 10). Significantly, in all three cases, those projects
presented difficulties in terms of the creation of classical plans on irregular or sloping
land. Otherwise, attempts to realise garden cemeteries were generally thwarted by
powerful local forces. For instance, in Como in 1804, Giovanni Battista Giovio
(1748–1814), an ostentatious nobleman and Catholic intellectual, proposed the
construction of a landscaped cemetery with tombs set among vegetation.32 Yet, the
cemetery in Como was eventually initiated, in the 1840s, according to the neoclassical
design of Luigi Tatti. Similarly, a project by the architect Ferdinando Canonici
(1780–1873) to expand the cemetery of Ferrara in 1851 according to a picturesque
design of ‘planned irregularity’ was never realised.33
In addition to potential influences from France, Italians were also aware of the
eighteenth-century English tradition of the Elysian Field, or landscaped garden with
tombs and cenotaphs that popularised the idea of burial within nature.34 Examples,
such as at Stowe and Castle Howard, were widely known and admired throughout
Europe. That there was an appetite for the English model of the picturesque garden,
or idealised landscape, among the Italian elite was evidenced by the treatise Dell’arte
dei giardini inglesi (1801) by Count Ercole Silva (1756–1840).35 In a section on
‘gardens annexed to cemeteries’, Silva presents the English custom of burial within
nature in a positive light. However, he also adapts the garden cemetery to suit Italian
tastes with trees and plants arranged according to neoclassical geometries, thereby
underlining the persistence of formal models in Italian garden design.
Associations with Protestant England might have hindered the adoption of
landscaped models within Italy, although that did not prove to be an obstacle to the
44 The monumental cemetery
popularity of locally devised versions in Catholic France. In 1835, a Catholic priest,
Giulio Cesare Gabrielli, made an unsuccessful bid to reform burial practices in Rome
based on English models, and the project’s failure may be attributed to the fact that,
by Gabrielli’s own admission, it went against ‘the dominant prejudices of the people’.36
Historically, there was also a tendency on the part of the Catholic Church to connect
the planting of trees in burial grounds with paganism – a tendency perhaps derived
from ancient Roman associations of death with cypress trees. In a sixteenth-century
treatise, which had an enduring influence on eighteenth-century reformers, Cardinal
Carlo Borromeo (1538–1584) states that trees are ‘not suited to the sanctity, piety,
and decorum’ of the burial ground.37 In 1854, an entrenched prejudice against
plantation was also expressed by the writer Giuseppe Rovani, who commented that,
as a rare example of a Catholic cemetery with extensive landscaping, the Poggioreale
cemetery in Naples ‘seemed to recall the Elysian Fields of paganism, rather than
Christian severity’.38 Equally, in a pamphlet of 1865 that was intended to promote
the religious credentials of Rome’s Verano cemetery, the Catholic historian Paolo
Mencacci underlined the distinctive nature of its monumental architecture in contrast
to landscaped, and by implication Protestant, cemeteries elsewhere in Europe. Mencacci
asserts that the Verano:

has nothing in common with the cemeteries in most European cities, which are
adorned not in a Christian manner, but with a voluptuous and Romantic
paganism, which transforms those burial grounds . . . into pleasure gardens for
amusement, like the Elysium depicted in pagan fables’.39

In contrast, the importance attributed to planting by Protestants was evidenced by


the fact that, when the plantation of trees within Rome’s non-Catholic cemetery was
banned under papal legislation, Protestants lobbied to have the prohibition lifted
(Catalogue 21).40
The Italian reluctance to award primacy to landscaping within cemeteries was
flanked by an allied aversion to burial in the ground,which was perceived to be alien
to the spirit of Italian Catholicism. That antipathy contrasted with a marked preference
for interment among Protestants, as expressed, for example, by the Scotsman John
Claudius Loudon, whose treatise on burial grounds of 1843 helped underpin the
foundation of the Garden Cemetery Movement in Britain.41 Clearly, garden cemeteries
were ideally suited to the interment of the dead. More importantly, however, the use
of a landscaped, rather than an architectural or monumental, format allowed for the
expression of ‘codes’ or meanings that were appropriate to the social, cultural and
religious structures of Protestant countries in Northern Europe.
Whereas Italian public cemeteries were predominantly, and sometimes exclusively,
used for the burial of Catholics, a small number of Italian private cemeteries were
dedicated to non-Catholic burials. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
those cemeteries tended to follow the landscaped model, as in the Testaccio area of
Rome, where a cemetery was established around 1716 along the external perimeter
of the Aurelian walls to accommodate the burial of Protestants – a practice that was
banned within the city’s urban boundaries.42 Until freedom of worship was granted
in 1870, the burial ground at Testaccio was restricted to foreigners. Located next to
the pyramidal tomb of Gaius Cestius (18–12 BC), the original core of the graveyard
was a small field with scattered tombs that recalled an English country churchyard.
The monumental cemetery 45

Figure 2.9 Rome, non-Catholic cemetery, expansion, 1822


Source: The author (2014)

From 1822, the cemetery was expanded and its pathways and planting took on a
decidedly landscaped appearance.
It is also important that generally, Italian non-Catholic cemeteries were not built
by local councils, but developed organically from piecemeal and private funding, and
on a basis that could not readily support large-scale classical planning. That said, it
is also likely that non-Catholics were attracted to picturesque planning precisely
because of its religious and cultural ties with Protestantism and Northern Europe, or
perhaps through a desire to stand apart from the Catholic majority. As the architect
of the municipal cemetery at Como, Luigi Tatti, commented in 1850, ‘in Italy this
type [the garden cemetery] would seem to be reserved for non-Catholic burial
grounds’.43 In fact, in the 1840s, the picturesque tradition was thought to be
appropriate for a new section of the civic cemetery of Cremona that was to be built
for Protestants.44
The tradition of burial within vaults, or above ground as opposed to interment,
was maintained in nineteenth-century Italy as a practice that was suited to the attitudes
and prejudices of a Catholic majority.45 Thus, a monumental and cloistered layout
catered for burial preferences that had resisted late eighteenth-century efforts to
introduce inhumation, whether as a hygienic way to dispose of the dead, or, as in the
case of enlightened despots such as the Archduke of Tuscany, as a veiled attack on
aristocratic privileges.46 An emergent Italian bourgeoisie may also have preferred vaults
on the basis that inhumation was traditionally reserved for the poor, whereas vaults
afforded status and reinforced social hierarchies. In any case, Italian attitudes towards
interment were evidenced even in Napoleonic plans of 1809 for cemeteries to be built
46 The monumental cemetery
in Rome, which differed from initiatives in France in that the dead were housed in
walled crypts rather than in communal graves.47 The Mayor of Rome, Duke Luigi
Braschi Onesti (1745–1816) wrote around 1812, ‘that it is not the custom in Italy,
as on the other side of the Alps, to bury the dead in graves and cover them with earth;
as evaporation is stronger in a warmer climate, [and] the effluvia emanated from the
corpses would pollute the air’.48 A more convincing explanation was offered by a
guidebook to Rome’s Verano cemetery of 1915, which stated that burial within vaults
had been chosen ‘instead of interment, not to offend the religious feelings of the Roman
population’ – whose attitudes revealed the inevitable conjunction of religious and class
prejudices that were embedded in the social geography of the cemetery.49
The attachment to burial within vaults among Italian Catholics was also evidenced
by a willingness to accept that the custom was facilitated by the exhumation of the
corpse on the expiry of a relatively short lease. The minimum burial period of five
years was extended to 10 in 1874 and could be lengthened in exchange for a fee to
a longer lease, or one held in perpetuity. The practice of temporary interment reduced
the demand on available space and boosted ‘rental’ income. In Northern Europe and
North America, spacious rural and landscaped cemeteries facilitated a sense of
ownership and perpetuity, but attempts to create monumental planning formats that
allowed for permanent burial were not economically sustainable.50 Monumental
cemeteries were, by definition, restricted in terms of available space and relatively
expensive with respect to public investment. Thus, the use of short-term leases for all
but the richest stakeholders operated to ease physical and financial limitations, albeit
that the practice might separate the wealthy from those of middling income who could
afford to avoid inhumation but lacked the means to acquire a permanent tomb. In
that respect, the tripartite system of short-term interment, leaseholds and freeholds
operated in much the same way as the structure of property rights and housing in the
city; that is, as a socio-economic mechanism through which society was ordered
according to space and the relative quality of ‘accommodation’.
The limited impact of the garden cemetery in Italy might also be imputed to the
nature the Italian landscape, or the manner in which it was conceived within the
popular imagination. In 1860, the architectural theorist Pietro Selvatico argued that
flat terrain could not be transformed into a picturesque landscape without great
expense and an uncertain result. Selvatico suggested that it was impossible ‘to achieve
the elegiac views of the cemetery [of Père-Lachaise] in Paris and [Poggioreale] cemetery
in Naples within fields uninterrupted by natural hills and valleys’, and he concluded
that might be why ‘in our [Italian] cities, and particularly in those on a plain,
cemeteries are laid out symmetrically rather than as an irregular garden’.51 Selvatico’s
comments are not necessarily logical in that they arose in relation to plans to build a
cemetery on a plain near Padua, for which he recommended a ‘cloistered’ layout with
axial views and open vistas – advice that was heeded when Padua’s municipal cemetery
was initiated in 1880 to the designs of Enrico Holzner (Catalogue 18). In 1862,
Selvatico’s opinions were echoed by his pupil Camillo Boito (1836–1914) in the latter’s
role as judge of a competition for the design of a new cemetery at Milan, which was
also to be constructed on a level site.52 In general, given that the majority of the
monumental cemeteries of the nineteenth century were located on the Pianura Padana,
or the great plain that flanks the River Po in northern Italy, a preference for regular
and classical plans may have reflected aesthetic considerations associated with an
Italian sense of the genius loci.
The monumental cemetery 47
As already stated, a small number of Italian monumental cemeteries were extended
onto sloping ground on the basis of the picturesque or landscaped model. Thus, the
monumental and the picturesque are juxtaposed, for example, at the Verano cemetery
in Rome and the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa. In both cases, landscaped extensions
were added during the 1870s to neoclassical cores that were built in the mid-1800s.

Figure 2.10 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, begun 1844, expanded 1870s


Source: © Google Earth
48 The monumental cemetery
The Poggioreale cemetery in Naples, which was initiated in 1813 as a cloistered
plan on flat terrain, was expanded along picturesque lines during the 1830s, in that
case on downhill, slanting land. The Poggioreale is a rare example of a major Italian
burial ground within which much of the total area is loosely modelled on the garden
cemetery. It led the Milanese writer Giuseppe Rovani to hypothesise, in 1854, that
the ‘serious’ monumental format would have been ill-suited to the ‘jolly character of
Naples’.53
The idea that the choice between a landscaped or a monumental format was
determined in line with specific cultural and religious codes might also be applied to
the non-Catholic cemeteries in Italy that were developed according to picturesque
principles. For example, the Cimitero degli Inglesi (English cemetery) in Livorno was
established on a plain in the form of an English country churchyard, but evolved in
the nineteenth century according to the model of the garden cemetery.54 Likewise, the
non-Catholic cemetery in Rome expanded onto sloping ground from 1822 by means
of a system of small terraces that provided level graves within a landscaped setting.
Conversely, there are also cases where the imperatives underlying the creation of
Catholic cemeteries meant that hilly terrain was adapted to accommodate a monu-
mental layout; for instance, at the cemeteries of Como (1840s) and Chiavari (1892,
Catalogue 4).55 In short, although the site may have been influential, religious and
cultural affiliations generally prevailed over restrictions inherent in topography.
Perhaps the most efficient way to explain the limited impact of the garden cemetery
is to show how the opposing monumental approach was appropriate to the cultural,
religious and political conditions of nineteenth-century Italy. For instance, the
inappropriateness of the picturesque option with respect to Italian Catholicism is
illustrated by the capacity of the monumental cemetery to meet the cultural and
ideological demands of the Catholic majority. The monumental approach also suited
Italy’s status as a fledgling nation because of its capacity to reflect the subtleties of a
hierarchical and stratified system of power, and an associated network of political
and social aspirations. The twin concepts of power and representation are central to
understanding the significance of the monumental cemetery. Hence, for example, the
appropriateness of monumental funerary architecture lay in the character of its
planning formats and in a balance of private and public investment, which allowed
for the expression of the power and identities of the state, the city, and those
individuals and families with the means to invest. As will be examined below, the
monumental cemeteries played a significant part in relationships between the state
and its major cities. However, with regards to power and its representation, the
individual and the family also held an important public role in the new cemeteries,
particularly as the bourgeois city and the middle classes were bound together as defining
elements of Italy’s emergent state.
Initially, within Italian monumental cemeteries, tombs tended to be embedded in a
public architectural and planning framework. Individual or private monuments were
lodged within an overarching classical plan, and large public buildings were placed
in prominent positions in correspondence with planning formats and axial vistas. In
terms of its cultural and political functions, the monumental cemetery allowed for the
domination of the public realm – although within that realm the nature of power was
defined by the amalgamation of the state, urban institutions, the elite and the emergent
middle classes. In contrast, the layout of the garden cemetery allowed for privacy,
seclusion, and a different form of individualism that could be expressed through
The monumental cemetery 49
the variety of quiet graves and individual monuments.56 The flexibility of style and
funerary architecture, which was afforded by a more accommodating plan, was
naturally conducive to greater freedom with regard to individual commemoration and
the preservation of private memories. The result was a landscape that was ‘cellular’,
dispersed and multipolar, as opposed to the unified framework of the monumental
cemetery. Thus, whereas landscaped burial grounds played largely on concepts relat-
ing to private grief rather than public status, Italy’s monumental cemeteries carried
evident and powerful meanings pertaining to the collective memory and to civic and
political imperatives. Whereas the picturesque model might suggest retirement within
nature, the monumental format yielded imagery that expressed a system of public
relationships and a network of cultural and political forces that characterised the new
nation state.
That the nature of cemeteries mirrored underlying cultural and political forces was
also true in France, where the garden cemetery fulfilled a desire for a new type of
cemetery that reflected the democratic ideals of the Revolution and Napoleonic era,
as well as a heightened concern for freedom and human dignity.57 Initial tensions
between advocates of the monumental and picturesque models tipped in favour of
the latter during the Reign of Terror (1793–1794). The popularity of the garden
cemetery might be interpreted as a reaction against the traditional graveyard that was
discredited by associations with the ancien régime. After 1800, its appropriateness
was compounded by reactions to the bloodshed and mass burials of the revolution-
ary decade (1789–1799) and by a shift away from monumental funerary designs that
were seen to be lavish and expensive. Within France, the eighteenth-century tradition
of academic, or monumental, funerary architecture was overturned by an approach
that served to protect public sensibilities and cultivate new cultural sentiments.
Essentially, the horrors of death were offset by the virtues of a natural landscape and
the emphasis on individual commemoration.
In Italy, as in France, contemporary debates concerning funerary architecture
showed an awareness of the different advantages that were afforded by monumental
and landscaped layouts. At a meeting of Milan’s local council in 1860, the politician
Tullo Massarani (1826–1905) praised the picturesque cemeteries of Northern
Europe. Yet, he warned that ‘this is not to say that this manner of burial, which is
no better than rural, is suited to all populations’.58 Massarani argued that the garden
cemetery was ‘congenital to populations and traditions where individualism prevails
over solidarity’, and that therefore it was ‘inadequate for the high aesthetic sense’ of
the Italian people who ‘impressed upon their every creation the mark of collective
and social thought’.59 Whereas the garden cemetery was seen to accommodate
‘individualism’ and private commemoration, the monumental model was perceived
to be appropriate to the Italian context in that, in Massarani’s words, it carried the
mark of collective thought.
Pavia could have been unique as an Italian city with a major landscaped cemetery
on flat land. However, when a project for a picturesque cemetery was presented to
the local council in 1865, it was vehemently opposed by the councillor Camillo
Brambilla (1809–1892). As a patriot and militant supporter of the Risorgimento,
Brambilla conceded that a loose layout would facilitate later expansion, but he argued
that it would not fulfil ‘all the demands of contemporary civilisation’.60 His counter-
proposal for a burial ground with a formal layout was favourably received by the
majority of the council ‘because it embodied the idea of a monumental cemetery’ and
50 The monumental cemetery
a ‘unity of thought’ that was not afforded by the garden cemetery with its ‘monuments
of various forms’.61 Architectural unity, homogeneity and an affiliation with tradition
were seen as desirable characteristics that could suggest the unification of the nation
and its people, and perhaps the maintenance of older ambitions associated with
egalitarianism and the Enlightenment.62 Those ideals proved to be difficult to satisfy
in the fragmented political landscape of the new Italy. Still, the functions of the
monumental cemetery should not be assessed on the basis of illusive ideals, but in
relation to the actual mechanics of Italy’s politics and culture, which were well served
through an iconography that drew on the Campo Santo, the Pantheon and a
monumental format. In reality, the architectural devices drawn from those sources
satisfied needs that sprang not simply from the state as an external force, but from
the ‘internal’ and active needs of an immediate society, and especially from the
bourgeoisie. Ultimately, a great deal of power was invested in individuals and families
who expressed Italian attitudes to death and inhumation, and who faced the option
to either dissolve into nature or maintain a presence within the cemetery that satisfied
their particular social and cultural aspirations.

New attitudes towards death and commemoration


The forces that advanced the design of cemeteries from Milan’s sparse fopponi to the
monumental cemetery of Brescia (1815) cannot be fully explained by French legislation,
or even by the persistence of Italy’s historical funerary traditions. Rather, the differences
between the unadorned burial grounds of the eighteenth century and Italy’s
monumental cemeteries followed from the evolution of a nexus of cultural processes
that gave rise to fresh attitudes towards the commemoration of the dead, and which
determined the ground rules through which social codes were translated into the
funerary architecture of the 1800s. The emergence of the monumental cemetery
represented a fundamental shift away from egalitarianism in favour of the class-
conscious and bourgeois mentalities of the nineteenth century. In 1783, the social
codes associated with death were reflected in the guidelines laid down by the Grand
Duke of Tuscany for the construction of suburban cemeteries as bare fields without
architectural embellishments, although ‘for the preservation and decency of the
cemetery’ it might be surrounded by a wall, a fence or a ditch to impede ‘the passage
of livestock’.63 Those restrictive measures were concretised, for example, in the
minimalist design of the Trespiano cemetery in Florence (begun in 1781). However,
as early as 1773, changing attitudes were signalled by Count Pomponio Calori,
director of works at Modena’s new suburban cemetery. Whereas Duke Francis III
intended that Modena’s cemetery of 1771 should be a walled field, Calori demanded
the construction of a portico. He argued that ‘not only would a covering be evidently
useful and necessary, but it would also complete the construction and render it
perfect’.64 Calori’s enticements were ignored, even after he suggested that a portico
would demonstrate to foreign visitors ‘the paternal care of the sovereign towards his
subjects’ and provide ‘glorious monuments to the sovereign’s benevolence’.65 Yet, in
1855, a municipal commission that was charged with rebuilding the cemetery at
Modena declared that ‘the progress of civilisation has spurred the emergence of new
needs, and has shown that it is fitting to the nobility of human nature . . . for the
Christian cemetery to be majestic and decorated, rather than humble and unadorned’.66
For that reason, in 1858, Modena’s cemetery was encircled with a portico and
The monumental cemetery 51
embellished with additions that included a large chapel modelled on the Pantheon
(see Figure 4.9 in Chapter 4).
While the enclosing portico was held by Calori to be fundamental to the political
and civic role of the municipal cemetery, in 1847, a Roman architect described its use
as a defining characteristic ‘of the type of public buildings for health and hygiene’.67
In fact, its significance was also underlined in academic competitions for funerary
designs.68 The importance of the portico was partly symbolic, and derived from the
capacity to separate the cemetery from its surroundings and to reinforce meanings
associated with its nature as an autonomous, and analogous, ‘city of the dead’. Thus,
the consecration of the Verano cemetery in Rome was postponed in 1835 because it
was not yet enclosed, and therefore did not conform to the ‘essential condition for a
field to be considered a cemetery’.69 However, the portico also had a socio-symbolic
function in that it provided a common shelter for the monuments and tombs of those
with sufficient means, and thereby allowed the elite and emergent middle classes to
register their presence within the hierarchical structure of the cemetery. In 1814, the
architect of the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples, Francesco Maresca (1757–1824),
underlined the need for an enclosure as a ‘sign of respect’ and to counter the lingering
attraction of the outlawed tradition of church burial.70 In effect, the portico was a
practical and social device that allowed the organisation of the social classes to be
mirrored in the spatial format of the burial ground. It was also a significant element
of the economics of the cemetery, as evidenced in 1812, when the Napoleonic Prefect
of Rome exhorted the city’s mayor to build a portico in the Verano cemetery on the
grounds that ‘not only would it decorate the Cemetery’s perimeter [but would also]
profit the coffers of the local council’.71 In essence, the portico was just one mani-
festation of a growing sophistication in funerary design that followed from the
evolution of culture and the concurrent emergence of new social and individual needs.
Rather than simply succumb to a convenient determinism that would ascribe the
emergence of the monumental cemetery to an all-encompassing definition of ‘power’,
or to some specific factor such as the making of a new nation or the rise of the bour-
geoisie, it is worthwhile to examine the complex system of forces that determined
Italian attitudes to death. It is also clear that those attitudes, which were active in the
nineteenth century, followed from a gradual process of development that allowed for
the survival, or rejection, of previous cultural conditions. In 1801, Ercole Silva, author
of a treatise on the English garden, condemned the austere cemeteries of the eighteenth
century as embodying a ‘blameful neglect’ of the dead.72 Similarly, the Lombard
aristocrat Giovanni Battista Giovio, who dedicated a pamphlet to Silva, praised the
reforms initiated in Lombardy in the late 1700s under the Emperor Joseph II, but
expressed his reservations regarding the minimal nature of the resulting burial grounds.
Giovio held that Milan’s fopponi of the 1780s ‘offered little attraction’ to the public
and suggested the addition of ‘a [monumental] entrance with a short avenue, shaded
by trees’.73 Already by 1806, the range of architectural elements that were deemed
necessary for a civic burial ground had expanded to the point that the architect Andrea
Vici (1743–1817) proposed that all four new cemeteries to be built near Rome should
include: a church, a dissecting room, habitation for the custodian and an arcaded
enclosure fitted with monuments to ‘society’s virtuous and worthy Men’.74 In a pam-
phlet of 1846, the physician Stanislao Grottanelli de’ Santi (1777–1874) vehemently
attacked the Enlightenment as the ‘philosophy of the previous century’ that ‘banned
religion from humanity’.75 Although Grottanelli de’ Santi accepted the need to distance
52 The monumental cemetery
cemeteries from built-up areas, he condemned eighteenth-century graveyards as
‘reminders of our nothingness and misery’ and denounced ‘their squalor and bareness’
as repellent to ‘every delicate sentiment’.76 The approach voiced by Silva, Giovio, Vici
and Grottanelli de’ Santi was typical. They supported the suburbanisation of burial
practices for its benefits to public health and hygiene, but called for a more elaborate
type of burial ground to meet new social needs and human sensibilities. The nature
of those sensibilities was captured by an anonymous author in a Milanese journal of
1856, who stated that ‘for as long as our cemeteries are little more than vast bare
fields with crosses, visiting the tombs will not serve to reinforce love for the departed’.77
However, the question is what drove the cultural changes behind this insistence on
mourning and the need to honour the dead.
Throughout Europe, from the early 1800s, romanticism brought a fascination with
death, and an interest in the subtle pleasures of reflecting on mortality.78 That
fascination contrasted with earlier empiricist and rationalist tendencies that promoted
a frank and liberating acknowledgement of oblivion, while also allaying the fear of
dying through an insistence on hygiene and the removal of the dead from public view.
Yet death never lost its cultural power and soon resurfaced as an inescapable element
of the collective consciousness. Arguably, the prohibition of urban interment and the
physical isolation of the dead, together with the restrictions imposed on funerary
rituals, monuments and access to cemeteries, may have encouraged later tendencies
to romanticise death and commemoration. In any case, towards the end of the
eighteenth century, rationalist attitudes that were characteristic of the Enlightenment
gave way to a preoccupation with death as expressed through grief, sentimentality
and social values. Whereas, in the 1700s, death was hidden away or reduced through
poverty and epidemics to the exigencies of public order and mass burial, in the
nineteenth century it carried a marked cultural and moral significance. That shift has
been described by the historian Philippe Ariès as an element of European romanticism
that implied an emergent interest in the ‘death of others’.79
From the late eighteenth century, literary sources indicate a tendency within Italian
culture to mark the physical location of the dead. As a condition of commemoration,
that points to a form of remembrance through which the memory of the individual
is ‘retained’ within society and the family – a mechanism that arose from both the
private needs of the bereaved and of a bourgeois culture that fed on public forms of
engagement and display. Evidence of this shift in the nature of commemoration first
appeared in print, which attests to the relative sensitivity of literature to cultural
influences. In the middle decades of the 1700s, enlightened attitudes towards death
were conveyed in texts such as an essay written by the intellectual Luigi Lambertenghi
(1739–1813) and published in the Milan-based journal Il Caffé in 1765.80 Within
Lambertenghi’s empiricist mindset, death was a natural phenomenon that brought
oblivion and an end to feeling, and which therefore was no cause for fear. He
considered funerary rites to be unnecessary and to be primarily motivated by a
concern for ‘appearances’ that reflected the wealth, vanity and ‘power of the living’.81
In 1784, the ‘semi-letterato fiorentino’ (‘Florentine pseudo-intellectual’) Modesto
Rastrelli held that, unlike ‘the devout and the ambitious’, the wise do not distinguish
‘between burial in a magnificent tomb or a manure heap’.82 Similar attitudes, which
suggest a conception of death rooted in the Enlightenment, were expressed by
Alessandro Verri in an ironic and scornful account of the different burial practices of
various populations, which was also published in Il Caffé in 1765.83 However, two
The monumental cemetery 53
years later in 1784, Verri articulated a cultural shift in approaches to death when he
rewrote his Notte Romane – a prose account of the funerary customs of the ancient
Romans that was prompted by the rediscovery, in 1780, of the tomb of the Scipios. 84
In a note in a margin of the manuscript, Verri stated that he had previously intended
to be ironic but had since realised that irony was an inappropriate response to death,
given the seriousness of the topic.85
The detachment with which the dead were regarded during the Enlightenment was
later replaced by a sombre respect and elaborate forms of commemoration, as
evidenced, for example, by Verri’s poem of 1785, Elegia scritta in Firenze, which
embodied a strongly worded attack on the ‘bare field’ burial reforms enacted in
Tuscany by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold in 1782.86 In that poem, Verri asks whether
‘the harsh command of the insensitive Austrian [Peter Leopold] presumes to halt the
sacred feelings’ of the living towards the dead by dismissing funerary customs as
superstitious prejudices.87 Verri directs his criticisms at the Trespiano cemetery near
Florence, which was established in accordance with the Grand Duke’s directives in
1781. He notes that within the Trespiano, the dead were buried in communal graves
without monuments (‘confusi e inonorati’) and that the remains of a beautiful virgin
or compassionate altruist might be placed in contact with the corpse of a prostitute
or an avaricious misanthrope.88 Similarly, in an essay entitled ‘Intorno al seppellire i
cadaveri’ (?1786), Alessandro Verri’s brother Pietro, founder of the journal Il Caffé,
criticises the crude pragmatism of the Enlightenment as ‘a philosophy that is limited
to consideration of objects’ rather than ‘the care for an insensitive corpse’.89 Thus,
within contemporary writings, there are signs of philosophical influences that present
an idealistic view of Italian attitudes to death. It is also evident that private monuments
were promoted as a human right and a source of social benefit. For example, Pietro
Verri argued that funerary rituals afford consolation to the living and, in an indirect
attack on legislation introduced to Lombardy in 1784 by the Emperor Joseph II that
restricted the construction of funerary monuments, he defended social distinction in
burial practices on the grounds that it encourages ‘honest actions’ and ‘the fulfilment
of social duties’.90 Although the Verri brothers’ hostility to reform reflected a loss of
faith in enlightened absolutism among Italian intellectuals in the 1780s (as described
in Chapter 1), it was also symptomatic of wider cultural developments.
Similar attitudes persisted into the nineteenth century, when they took on patriotic
undertones. For example, in 1846, Grottanelli de’ Santi expressed the need for ‘private
graves, catacombs, chapels, and tombs’ to celebrate merit and civic worth.91 Similarly,
in 1851, the architect Ferdinando Canonici considered the decorated tomb to be of
‘true utility and decorum to the fatherland’ as a ‘profitable example and aspiration
for future generations’.92 With respect to private monuments at the Certosa cemetery
in Bologna, an anonymous letter writer complained in 1802 that they would bear the
names of those ‘who had no other quality in life than having been able to save enough
to erect a monument to their own vanity’.93 Yet, that author sanctioned funerary
monuments that might celebrate merit rather than vanity, and concluded that it is ‘a
just and worthy ambition to leave honourable memories of virtue’.94 That sentiment
might be said to signal the demise of eighteenth-century attempts to reform burial
practices in favour of social equality and the idealism, or opportunism, invested in
the graveyard as a simple field. It echoed the meritocratic tradition in academic funerary
design that first emerged in the mid-1700s, and which attributed a civic and educational
role to funerary monuments. However, this does not imply that meritocratic ambitions
54 The monumental cemetery
trumped the ideals of egalitarianism, in that the concept of meritocracy was subsumed
within, or perhaps overwhelmed by, bourgeois ambitions that were centred on the
mundane and practical advantages of displays of wealth and social privilege.
It is revealing that criticisms of ‘egalitarian’ graveyards in late eighteenth-century
Italy combined two major factors, which were central to changing attitudes to death.
The first concerns commemoration, or the urge to value the dead and to promote the
instruments of mourning and remembrance. The second relates to the distinctions
that might be drawn between the dead, as, for example, between the virgin and the
prostitute, or indeed between the wealthy and the poor. There is a crucial difference
between these two factors in that, depending on the nature of the ideological, cultural
or political contexts in which they appear, they might be primarily rooted in
romanticism or plain bourgeois opportunism. Their interpretation could span between
a romantic or poetic engagement with death, almost credible distinctions based on
real merit, and a ruthless definition of worth that supported the purposes of the living.
Moreover, pretences associated with romanticism and commemoration could mask
the social distinctions through which power was sanctioned within the cemetery.
Hence, whereas some critics called for a new and romantic sensitivity to death and
bereavement, others objected to equality in burial practices on the grounds that no
spatial or other form of division was used to distinguish the dead. In general, it might
be unwise to assume that romantic ideals, or ambitions for a true meritocracy, had
precedence over bourgeois self-interest or the socio-economic benefits that might be
drawn from death and commemoration.
Evidence of the evolution in attitudes towards death was also provided by the writer
Ugo Foscolo (1778–1827), who, as Secretary of the Provisional Municipality that
governed Venice during the French occupation in 1797, was involved in attempts to
curb social distinctions in funerary practices.95 Those reforms met with such hostility
that when Foscolo read the proposed decree to a public assembly, he was interrupted
by whistling from the audience. His opinions subsequently altered and, in 1806,
he wrote a passionate defence of funerary monuments. In the poem I sepolcri, he
condemns isolated and unmarked communal graves on the basis that they impede the
‘correspondence of deep affection’ between the dead and the living, which he deemed
to be an essential component of civilisation and dedication to the family and
fatherland.96 In his I sepolcri, Foscolo laments the burial of fellow poet Giuseppe Parini
in 1799 in an unmarked common grave, fearing that:

his bones may well be bloodied


by contact with the severed head of one
who left a life of crime on the scaffold.97

The neglect that characterises Parini’s burial place is depicted by Foscolo in a vivid
reference to a stray dog:

you hear her scraping over thorns and rubble


that sad abandoned bitch that roams around
among the grave-pits, howling out of hunger.98

Parini was buried in the Porta Comasina cemetery in Milan – one of the suburban
fopponi founded in 1786 on the basis of legislation imposed by Joseph II, and which
in common with similar burial places contained unmarked mass graves.99
The monumental cemetery 55

Foscolo dedicated I sepolcri to a friend, the poet Ippolito Pindemonte (1753–1828),


who, in response, wrote a poem with the same title that echoes Foscolo’s attack.
Pindemonte states in the introduction to his I sepolcri of 1807:

The idea for the Poem came to me from the Cemetery, which I saw, not without
indignation, in Verona. Not that I disapprove of cemeteries generally: but that of
my native city [Verona] vexed me, because there were no distinctions between
tombs, no monuments, and entrance was not permitted to the living.100

The object of Pindemonte’s criticism was the cemetery of Santissima Trinità in


Verona that opened in 1804, and which was subject to a ban on the erection of
monuments and restrictions regarding public access. In fact, it was closed prior to the
publication of Pindemonte’s I sepolcri in 1807, possibly because of public criticism.
Foscolo and Pindemonte pleaded for social distinctions to be made in burial practices
on the basis that ‘the sad monuments of the deceased offer not only comfort but
instruction to the living’.101 By the time of Pindemonte’s death in 1828, a new culture
of commemoration had taken hold, and he was the first to be interred in an area
designated for those awarded an honourable burial within Verona’s new monumental
cemetery.
While broad ideological, social and political forces reshaped attitudes to death and
commemoration across nineteenth-century Europe, literature can be taken to illustrate
how the nature of those attitudes varied between individual countries, cultures and

Figure 2.11 Verona, monumental cemetery, sketch, Giuseppe Barbieri, ?1828; the tomb of
Ippolito Pindemonte is shown on the left, not in its final location
Source: Courtesy of Biblioteca Civica di Verona, Stampe 2. n. 4 (detail)
56 The monumental cemetery
religions. In Italy, attitudes were coloured by particular approaches to romanticism,
and local factors that are revealed by the differences between Italian and foreign
literature. Many of the Italian poets and writers who expressed an interest in death,
such as Foscolo, Pindemonte and the Verri brothers, echoed sentiments associated
with the tradition of ‘graveyard poetry’ that originated in Britain in the first half of
the 1700s.102 The British version of that genre was represented, for example, by
Thomas Parnell’s ‘A night-piece on death’ (1721), Robert Blair’s ‘The Grave’ (1743)
and Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy written in a country Churchyard’ (1750). As it spread
outwards from Britain, graveyard poetry converged with the romantic and other
cultural foundations of funerary design in nineteenth-century Europe.103 British poetry
sensitised elements of the European aristocracy to the notion of burial within the
landscape and paved the way for the eighteenth-century Elysium, or the idea of a
garden with tombs or cenotaphs that emerged in England as the precursor to the
modern landscaped cemetery. In Italy, in particular, the impact of British literature
might be assessed on the basis of its influence with respect to the culture of
commemoration, rather than to the promotion of the landscape tradition in funerary
architecture.
Italian sources point to foreign influences that encouraged emotive attitudes to
commemoration. Paraphrasing Voltaire, the anonymous author of the Lettere sul
grande cimitero di Bologna of 1802 hoped that visitors to that city’s new cemetery
‘would leave weeping [and] full of sentiment as the English depart from the tombs of
Westminster [Abbey]’.104 However, although British texts were influential in Italy,
there is a marked discrepancy between British and Italian ‘graveyard poetry’. British
examples focus on the graves of loved ones, the transience of life and the vanity of
human ambitions. In contrast, less attention is given in Italian poetry to the role of
funerary monuments in the individual’s subjective relationships with death. In general,
Italian texts celebrate meritocracy and focus on the collective consciousness rather
than on personal and emotive reactions to death and mourning. They foreground the
tombs of worthy and virtuous men whose graves might encourage emulation to the
benefit of the community. For Foscolo, ‘bones quiver with the love of the fatherland’.105
Of his I sepolcri (1806), he wrote that ‘the author considers tombs in political terms;
and aims to encourage the Italians to emulate the politics of those countries that honour
the memory and tombs of great men’.106 Thus, the nature of Italian ‘graveyard poetry’
was distinctly civic and social, rather than personal and intimate. In that sense,
observers might see in the Italian manner of commemoration a particular form of
romanticism that was allied to a civic and political agenda.
The differences between Italian and British ‘graveyard poetry’ may be ascribed to
pressures inherent in Italy’s sociopolitical structures, and factors that played a
significant part in shaping the patriotism, political ethos and civic consciousness of
the Risorgimento. Italian romanticism was distinctly patriotic in spirit and fundamental
to a culture that embodied an urge for political independence.107 Romantic ideals
relating to freedom, dedication, sacrifice, fraternity and heroism, which underpinned
the Risorgimento, also coloured the role played by cemeteries in the generation of
social and civic values. Whereas British graveyard poetry looked to that which was
private, introverted and nostalgic, its Italian counterpart was generally progressive,
inspiring and evocative of the ideal of a burgeoning nation. In a pamphlet of 1804,
which urged the construction of a cemetery near Como, Giovanni Battista Giovio
mocks British graveyard poetry, which he ascribes to ‘a fashion for insurmountable
The monumental cemetery 57
Table 2.1 Evolution of Italian funerary architecture

Aim Inclusion Individuation Division


Egalitarian cemeteries Equality X
(1700s)
Academic projects Social improvement X
(1700s–early 1800s) (based on merit)
Bourgeois cemeteries Appeasement X X X
(1800s) (based on wealth)
Source: The author (2016)

sadness and eternal whimpering’.108 Giovio argues that whereas Edward Young’s
‘Night thoughts’ (1742) and James Hervey’s ‘Meditations among the Tombs’ (1745)
‘are definitely more serious than my text [“I cimiteri” of 1804], they are also less
useful’.109
Writing in 1984 on attitudes towards death in France, the French sociologist Pascal
Hintermeyer identified three tendencies in French funerary design of the late eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries.110 The first involved the removal of the dead from
public view, and concerns for hygiene and the protection of the living – factors that
also underpinned the creation of socially inclusive suburban cemeteries in eighteenth-
century Italy. The second tendency sprang from an ‘ideology of virtue’ within which
death was presented as a means through which the living could benefit from examples
afforded by the honourable and worthy. That sentiment was embodied in French and
Italian academic funerary designs of the late 1700s and early 1800s that divided the
dead according to merit. The third tendency was aimed at an ‘appeasement of death’.
In nineteenth-century Italy, that might be taken to imply the normalisation, or even
the exploitation, of death through art and architecture that extended the values of
the government, merchant bank and bourgeois parlour into cemeteries, which drew
audiences in their role as ‘urban parks’. With regard to Hintermeyer’s analysis, it should
be noted that cultural attitudes to mortality might be difficult to pin down. On the
other hand, it is clear that the design of Italian cemeteries evolved in line with the
needs and sensibilities of the living, who in the nineteenth century sought individual
graves and social distinctions in a framework that was relatively inclusive but evidently
hierarchical.

The impact of social change


In Italy, the promotion of commemoration as a force for public good had a significant
influence on funerary design as it moved towards monumentality and grandeur. That
is evidenced in a report published in 1818 by Luigi Oberty (1790–1874), who, as the
designer of a number of cemeteries in the Campania region, endorsed monumentality
on the grounds that it improved society by fostering civilisation and morality.111 The
question, therefore, is how concepts associated with merit and the ideal society were
defined over the course of the nineteenth century, and how those concepts evolved in
line with the development of Italy’s society, notably in relation to the relative decline
of the aristocracy and the emergence of an Italian bourgeoisie.112 Those issues can be
58 The monumental cemetery
traced in the evolution of the social–spatial structures of Italian cemeteries over the
course of the nineteenth century in that funerary architecture both reflected and
reinforced social divisions by means of a ‘circular relationship’ with society. In that
sense, the necrogeography, or spatial arrangement of the dead, within Italy’s
monumental cemeteries helped to establish a new social order.113
In the eighteenth century, the urge for egalitarianism influenced efforts to divide
the dead according to ‘universal’ categories such as gender or age, rather than
economic or social status. That tendency survived into the early 1800s, as is evidenced
by an unexecuted design of 1806–1807 by the architect Giuseppe Pistocchi
(1744–1814) for a circular cemetery for the city of Faenza – a project that was divided
axially into areas for the accommodation of males and females. Pistocchi’s plan was
also sectioned into concentric circles destined (from the centre towards the periphery)
for those who died in ‘childhood’, ‘youth’, ‘manhood’ and ‘old age’, thereby following
an order that logically assigned the largest space to the elderly.114 The project’s affinities
with the rationalist tendencies of eighteenth-century French funerary design may have
reflected Pistocchi’s Jacobin sympathies, or his support for the revolutionary and
Francophile movement that swept through Italy at the end of the 1700s.
As late as 1822, the cemetery of Bologna was divided into zones for men, women
and children.115 The only concession to class was the isolation of the poorest members
of society; that is, those who died in hospital. However, that respect for social equality
stood in opposition to a growing tendency, dating from the early nineteenth century,
to perceive social divisions as the product of a natural order, and to equate merit with
service to the public good. Those views were voiced, for example, by Count Ercole
Silva, who, in his treatise on the English garden of 1801, argued that the ‘aim of social
subversion’ lay behind efforts to bury all social classes on an equal basis.116 In effect,
Silva equated egalitarianism with subversion. He held that social distinctions reflected
natural inequalities whose maintenance contributed to the development of civilisation
and that, if arranged hierarchically according to an ‘order’ (‘simmetria’) based on their
achievements and social status, the dead would encourage the emulation of worthy
ancestors.117 To accommodate that order, Silva advocated a planned architectural
framework with symmetrically placed tombs divided by tree-lined avenues – an
arrangement that demonstrated how the establishment of a social hierarchy among
the dead militated against the adoption of the landscaped or picturesque model in
Italy. It is also important that the insistence on a formal or monumental order reflected
the breakdown of an older social order and the emergence of the middle classes, which
rejected egalitarianism in favour of the capacity to express new social divisions. In
addition, the separation of family members on the basis of age and gender was at
odds with the status awarded to the family in bourgeois society.118 By 1862, ‘the
distinction between burial places for men and women’ was deemed to be ‘useless,
strange and contrary to the pious wish of many to be close to the graves of their
relatives’.119
Three paper projects for circular cemeteries created by the architect Luigi Trezza
in Verona, between 1804 and 1820, demonstrate the tendency towards increased
complexity and division in funerary design. In turn, the projects moved between a
modest portico that enclosed a simple radial layout, to a plan derived from a Greek
cross delineated by porticoes, to a more elaborate plan with an internal portico backed
by chapels.
The monumental cemetery 59

Figure 2.12 Verona, cemetery project, plan and internal portico, Luigi Trezza, 1804
Source: Courtesy of Biblioteca Civica di Verona, ms. 1784 III, c. 89

Trezza’s 1820 project catered for two distinct social groups. While the poor are
cast into an outer ring, those who could afford private plots were to be accommodated
within an inner circle with a chapel at its centre. By contrast, in 1813, a Napoleonic
project for the new Pigneto Sacchetti cemetery (1811) for Rome was altered to
accommodate three social categories to be compatible with the city’s upper, lower
and middle classes.120 Originally, that design, by the architect Giuseppe Camporese
(1763–1822), made provisions for major monuments to be built under a portico that
was intended to enclose a central field for communal graves. Later, in response to
criticism from the French administration, Camporese’s design was modified to allow
for a third group in the form of private plots to be located in front of the portico.
60 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.13 Verona, cemetery project, plan and internal portico, Luigi Trezza, 1820
Source: Courtesy of Biblioteca Civica di Verona, ms. 1784 III, c. 112

Similarly, in 1828, the cemetery of San Michele in Venice allowed for a hierarchy
made up of three burial conditions that were priced according to the size and
prominence of plots.121 In 1865, the winning project of a competition for the main
cemetery in Padua was praised for providing adequate accommodation in terms of
burial areas for the middle classes ‘who do not want to spend too much, nor do they
want to be lined up in the common field [with the poor]’.122
A major factor in the abandonment of burial within churches and urban graveyards
from the mid-1700s was the inability to accommodate a developing social system.123
By contrast, the new cemeteries of the nineteenth century responded to the gradual
development of a more layered society, which prompted changes in the layout, nature
The monumental cemetery 61
and variety of tombs. Initially, Brescia’s municipal cemetery (1815) afforded interment
in the ground for the poor, and vaults sheltered by porticoes for those who could rise
above inhumation. The introduction of loculi created a third, and increasingly popular,
option (see Figure 2.5). Through the revival of an ancient tradition, loculi generally
catered for those who could not afford a family monument, but who wished to avoid
burial in the central field. In 1843, an unnamed architect, who submitted a project in
response to a competition related to the San Michele cemetery in Venice, hailed the
emergence of loculi as a victory for a large portion of the population that had
traditionally been excluded from the ownership of a private plot.124
The edicola, or free-standing chapel, was another major innovation in the
development of Italy’s monumental cemeteries. Whereas, previously, wealthy families
had been granted the right to occupy or purchase chapels that were already set within
a public framework, or which were attached to an enclosing portico, the emergence
of the edicola established a trend whereby privately funded chapels might be
independently situated anywhere within a cemetery. With regard to their form, edicole
were reminiscent of the small-scale chapels of the Renaissance sacri monti. Literally
‘little temples’ (from the Latin aedes), the first examples of edicole to appear within
Italy’s monumental cemeteries were built at the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples, shortly
after it was opened in 1837.125
Those edicole reflected the particular nature of Neapolitan society, the stark division
between rich and poor, and the grip of the aristocracy on expressions of power. In
Naples, the edicola was also adopted by local religious confraternities as an appropriate
way to house their members. Elsewhere, it was not until the 1870s that edicole began
to emerge as a major element within Italian cemeteries. To an extent, their emergence
was restricted by some local authorities that favoured the attachment of monuments
to porticoes and the maintenance of unified planning frameworks – restrictions that
were relaxed in the latter half of the century. For instance, restrictive guidelines and
templates governing the creation of private monuments that were established in
Brescia, Bologna and Genoa in the early nineteenth century were later abandoned,
leaving the wealthy free to develop elaborate edicole within increasingly heterogeneous
architectural and planning frameworks.126
The social changes that influenced the design of monumental cemeteries stemmed,
in large part, from the growth of the Italian middle classes. Following an expansion
in European economies in the 1830s–1840s, the bourgeoisie acquired a leading
position in Italian cities and moved into areas occupied by old elites, although it did
not fully displace the aristocracy and represented a remarkably small proportion of
the national population.127 Italy’s bourgeoisie had a specific socio-economic profile,
which was largely due to the comparatively delayed and limited nature of industrial-
isation. In contrast with some of their European counterparts, the Italian middle classes
emerged on the back of the professions, public administration and the bureaucratisa-
tion of the new state, with industrial and commercial capital playing a lesser role.128
As a consequence, both the unification of Italy and the development of its monumental
cemeteries can be assessed on the basis of the power afforded to the bourgeoisie within
the institutions of the new state. That power was reflected in the making of the new
cemeteries through the capacity to erect tombs or acquire a decorated grave, and
ultimately in the ability of the middle classes to outweigh the nobility as a class that
once monopolised the right to maintain a social presence after death. After unification,
the bourgeoisie through their position in local administration drove a project to place
62 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.14 Naples, Poggioreale cemetery, edicole, post-1837


Source: The author (2012)
The monumental cemetery 63
symbols of national belonging and civic cohesion within the urban landscape.129
Cemeteries were central to that project and to the way in which the middle classes
exploited their role within the state to enhance their status and that of the nation.
Nineteenth-century burial reforms were underpinned by the economics and
commodification of funerary rites, which reflected the ability of the state to appropriate
rights and powers previously held by the clergy, and the emergence of the middle
classes as major consumers.130 Economic investment by the bourgeoisie played a key
part in the creation of monumental cemeteries. In turn, the new cemeteries reflected
the power of the bourgeoisie and its aspiring individuals, families and institutions.
To a great extent, the role of the middle classes rested on a conjunction of private
and public investment. In most cases, the municipality funded the construction of a
planning framework in the hope that the project would profit from the sale of burial
plots, at least to the point at which the council might recuperate its initial outlay. For
example, Genoa’s local council spent over 4 million lira on the construction on the
Staglieno cemetery (begun in 1844) but, by the 1880s, had recovered the building
costs and an annual profit of 250,000 lira. Charges for the erection of monuments
ranged from the cheapest bas-relief at 250 lira in 1883, to large mausolea costing up
to 30,000 lira, which was about 100 times the annual income of a textile worker.131
The construction of a public burial ground was less profitable at Messina, where
nearly 1 million lira was expended to build the Gran Camposanto (1865) and
only 3 per cent of its cost was recuperated in the first five years after its opening
(Catalogue 13).132
In general, the fact that new burial grounds tended to be directed at a bourgeois
audience is evidenced by a Milanese author who, in 1854, noted that they should
cater to the needs of ‘rich families that, although they are not noble, can afford to
purchase burial plots’.133 The involvement of the middle classes, as the primary
customers for plots and monuments, was also institutionalised through the power
they exerted within municipalities and steering committees. In a minority of cases,
the initial funding came from public subscriptions, private donors or groups of
donors, as at Bologna and Pavia. In a bid to fund a design for the expansion of the
Certosa cemetery at Bologna by the architect Ercole Gasparini (1771–1829), the city
council sought funding directly from the urban middle classes through the publication
of a pamphlet.134 In that respect, the cemeteries were comparable to the earliest Italian
railways, which were built with private capital backed by the state.135
The way in which power was distributed in society was expressed in the new
cemeteries through the relative quality, scale and variety of funerary monuments, and
through the socio-economic mechanisms that influenced planning formats and social
geographies. The cemetery embodied meanings that were determined in relation to
real social processes. For example, where plots were held in perpetuity, it might
be said that ‘through their dead, the living increase[d] their power here on earth’.136
Equally, funerary rituals were formal processes that were effectively woven into
the overall system of social relations. As a ritual that gained great significance in the
nineteenth century, the funeral constituted a tangible link between the city and the
cemetery, a link that was, in effect, traced in the passage of the funerary procession.
Differences in the relative sophistication of funerals and funerary rituals mirrored social
hierarchies within both the city and the new burial grounds. For instance, a nineteenth-
century catalogue illustrating the funerary carriages that were available from the
renowned Milanese carriage-builder Francesco Belloni offered a range of three models,
64 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.15 Catalogue of funerary carriages, Francesco Belloni, ?1880s


Source: Courtesy of Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, carteggio amministrativo, titolo VII, rubrica
7, 1886
The monumental cemetery 65

or levels of service; in addition, it provided meagre facilities for the destitute who
died in hospital.137 In the nineteenth century, the ‘vulgar’ need to express the
distinctions devised by an emergent social hierarchy contrasted, for example, with the
piety and affected modesty of members of the Neapolitan aristocracy who, in wills
of the late 1700s, demanded a simple burial in accordance with the conventions of
their faith.138
Changes in the nature of Italian society ultimately eroded the relative purity and
coherence of the monumental cemetery. The relaxation of controls over private
monuments, which began in the 1860s, was symptomatic of the processes that
underlay the accumulation of capital, the allied evolution of society, and the subsequent
segmentation of the middle and other classes. The emergence of ‘new wealth’ in the
1860s–1880s in the wake of economic growth and urban expansion increased the
pressure for individual displays of status within the cemetery – displays that were

Figure 2.16 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, loculi


Source: The author (2009)
66 The monumental cemetery
increasingly spectacular when funded by wealthy families, which came to dominate
an enlarging social hierarchy. The loss of architectural coherence within the
monumental cemeteries was exacerbated by the fact that, in the last decades of the
1800s, the edicola or free-standing chapel was greatly favoured by the Italian haute
bourgeoisie as a vehicle for the most elaborate funerary architecture of the nineteenth
century. The demand for edicole, as independent architectural elements, had the power
to disturb the order and coherence of earlier, neoclassical, planning frameworks.
Moreover, that disturbance was more evident in cemeteries, or in those parts of a
cemetery, that had been laid out on a formal basis. In contrast, a picturesque exten-
sion to a neoclassical plan provided the perfect conditions for edicole that adopted
the appearance of villas set within a leafy suburb. For instance, in the 1870s, at the
Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, large edicole in eclectic or purified styles appeared
above the treeline and within a landscape that bordered on the Arcadian. The
contrast between the edicole in the landscaped areas and the ‘downtown’ loculi
might invoke comparisons between the ideal suburb and neoclassical city centre, or
between the independent villa and the urban apartment block. Otherwise, where
edicole were set within the core of a cemetery, the comparison might be between the
palazzi of the wealthier classes and the loculi as the apartment blocks of the petite
bourgeoisie.
In any case, the edicola was one of the main forces behind a shift from the rigid,
cloistered layouts of the early 1800s to flexible and open planning formats. However,
it was not the only factor behind the move towards less homogeneous patterns of
development. A measure of incoherence also followed from greater heterogeneity in
style and design, and in the overall variety of tombs, graves, wall monuments,
columbaria, chapels and mausolea. That heterogeneity satisfied the needs of a more
complex and multifaceted society. In that regard, Italy’s monumental cemeteries
continued to present a true, although exaggerated, account of the evolution of social
forces, albeit that funerary architecture was carried beyond the cohesive powers of
neoclassicism and a unifying aesthetic.

The cemetery as a cradle for bourgeois culture


In their time, the egalitarian, meritocratic and bourgeois approaches to death reflected
both the nature of Italian society, politics and culture, and the microelements of
everyday life. The capacity of individuals and families to gain lasting legal or property
rights within the ‘analogous city’ meant that economic status, social ambitions, and
cultural and spiritual aspirations could be expressed through the location, size, type
and aesthetic character of individual graves. The patterns of meaning that were etched
into the formal, spatial and social formats of Italy’s new cemeteries were highly
detailed, and those details reflected the minutiae of life in the parent city and the
complexity of local social networks. Obviously, the correspondence between a society
and its civic cemetery was never entirely accurate. Rather, the cemetery yielded
simplified or purified meanings that were powerful precisely because they were distilled
from human emotions, social sensibilities, or moral and religious sentiments. The
strength of any imagery lay partly in its ‘inaccuracies’. The filtering processes afforded
by art and architecture allowed for the exaggeration of human achievements,
pretensions, piety and declarations of love or devotion. Well-honed meanings were
carried by funerary architecture that was akin to art as it was relatively unconstrained
The monumental cemetery 67

by function, or because its essential function was symbolic. Thus, art and architecture
combined to express the binding mechanisms of a social order, such as familial love,
social mores, civic values, patriotism and religious faith.
The meanings embodied in the monumental cemetery can be understood in relation
to particular themes. For example, both artistic and architectural elements functioned
to express how work and enterprise were respected as sources of social status or
definitions of virtue – in contrast to an earlier reliance on birthright and inherited
privileges. As early as 1805, entries to the Concorso Clementino of the Academy
of St Luke submitted by Gioacchino Conti and Giovanni Passinati showed how the
dead might be accommodated according to what were seen as worthy professions –
an arrangement that was later incorporated into the brief of the 1835 Concorso
Clementino (see Chapter 1). Other projects that reflected the meritocratic tradition
in academic funerary design of the eighteenth century also expressed the growing
significance of work as a measure of social status. That the occupation of the deceased
afforded social identity was evidenced by the fact that designated areas of nineteenth-
century Italian cemeteries were given over to specific occupations. As in the city, there
might be a Via degli Orefici (Goldsmith Street) or Vico Panettieri (Baker Alley).139 In
1820, in the Certosa cemetery of Ferrara, a special chapel was reserved for the burial
of engineers. At the Monumentale in Milan, a portico houses tombs of industrialists
and factory owners. Such arrangements might result from official strategies or the

Figure 2.17 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, tomb of industrialist Ambrogio Binda, Metello
Motelli, 1876. The epitaph reads: ‘Work was his faith – honesty his guide –
family his comfort. He was awarded by men on earth and will be granted a
greater award by God in heaven’
Source: The author (2009)
68 The monumental cemetery
influence of confraternities and professional institutes, but they testify to the social
value awarded to skills and practical achievements, and to the importance of the
professions in the growth of the Italian bourgeoisie.140
Within Italy’s monumental cemeteries, considerable attention was given in the
language of funerary sculpture to worldly accomplishments, which were proudly
recorded through symbols associated with the professions and various forms of
achievement. Work was translated into a system of common values through the use
of vignettes, epitaphs and allegorical figures. The symbols used to associate the
deceased with a profession were often ‘recycled’ elements of religious and classical
iconography; for instance, the tomb of a lawyer might be marked with the weighing
scales of justice, or that of a navy officer with an anchor recalling the traditional
emblem of hope. That old symbols acquired new meanings might be taken to reflect
the establishment of a new society.141 The transition from allegorical symbols to
working signage also signalled a gradual shift towards realism and the figurative.
Moreover, emphasis was placed on the status of the ‘self-made man’, or parvenu, and
on the virtues of hard work, perseverance and success. Significant weight was also
given to the virtue of charity and the deceased were commonly portrayed distributing
alms to beggars or orphans. In some instances, that act of donation was mediated
through a personification of charity.
The capacity to express meanings associated with work, but also with family, filial
devotion, charity, piety or a widow’s love, was enhanced through an alliance of
architecture with sculpture that conformed to the principles of bourgeois realism.142
Although by no means exclusive to Italy, or to funerary sculpture, bourgeois realism
achieved significant popularity as a style that appeared in Italian cemeteries in the
1860s–1870s. The main characteristics of the new style followed from its cultural
origins. It was both bourgeois and realistic, or rather it was assembled from those
elements of middle-class life that were appointed to represent reality. In simple terms,
it served to express defining characteristics of the bourgeoisie such as a self-conscious
search for identity, a tendency to form supportive social networks, and an over-
whelming commitment to the tangible and mundane.143 One of the main differences
between bourgeois realist and earlier neoclassical monuments was the substitution of
allegorical figures in classical garb by statues representing the relatives of the deceased,
who were portrayed in contemporary dress. In some instances, real-life figures coexisted
with allegorical representations of Christ, the Madonna or angels (see Figure 4.28 in
Chapter 4). In others, relatives took centre stage as, for example, spouses and families
were shown as if visiting a tomb or chapel, or in attendance at the deathbed. Equally,
a widow or female relative might stand in as the personification of charity, hope or
faith, or might occupy the space that, in neoclassical funerary sculpture, was accorded
to the piangente (a female mourner in classical dress).
Women held a stronger position in bourgeois realist sculpture than in other spheres
of nineteenth-century art or culture. As widows, they could play a role in com-
missioning the tombs of departed husbands. However, their presence in funerary
sculpture was more likely to spring from symbolic associations that were drawn
between womanhood, the private sphere of mourning and the ritual celebration of
the family. Often, a deceased mother was represented sitting in an armchair surrounded
by her children – a static format set within the private sphere of the home (see Figure
2.23). Perhaps the actual role of women should be assessed against the fact that, in
Italy’s monumental cemeteries, there are also numerous testimonies to the power of
The monumental cemetery 69

Figure 2.18 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Maggi-Via tomb, Giovanni Battista Lombardi,
1859
Source: The author (2011)
70 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.19 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pellegrini tomb, Domenico Carli, 1888
Source: The author (2009)
The monumental cemetery 71

Figure 2.20 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Gallino tomb, Giacomo Moreno, 1894
Source: The author (2009)
72 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.21 Verona, monumental cemetery, Dalla Riva tomb, Grazioso Spazzi, 1842–1845.
It includes a neoclassical piangente.
Source: The author (2011)

the pater familias, as the head of the household. The patriarch might be portrayed,
for example, as a padre padrone, or a captain of industry who is surrounded by his
family at the moment of death.
For the wealthy, a life-sized tableau allowed for the exposure of a detailed, emotive
and institutionalised definition of family ties. It also afforded a powerful expression
of what Ariès might describe as the ‘death of others’ or the mourning of loved ones.
The inner workings of the family were portrayed in terms of the ideal role of the
parent, spouse and sibling with respect to the dead. Hierarchies were sustained by a
virtuous combination of love and duty, and the maintenance of those hierarchies
carried a strong sense of continuity. Equally, the families of the petite bourgeoisie
were represented by grouping miniature portraits so that they were ordered according
to successive generations. In general, the family occupied a central position within
The monumental cemetery 73

Figure 2.22 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Balucanti tomb, Giovanni Seleroni, 1861.
Female relatives in modern dress perform the role of the piangente.
Source: The author (2012)

funerary sculpture as the primary ‘moral universe’ of the Italian bourgeoisie. Whereas
the city was a platform for public monuments and civic values associated with the
community and nation, within the cemetery, virtue was largely defined through
private, intimate and moral forces that were wound around marriage, parenthood
and kinship.
Realism also lent itself to the display of wealth, for example, through the accurate
depiction of clothing whose details were recorded as if each mark of the sculptor’s
chisel registered a point in the social hierarchy. The custom of depicting the latest
fashion in mourning clothes served to convey associations with contemporaneity,
commodification and progress. Equally, realism reinforced the power of style to expose
74 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.23 Verona, monumental cemetery, late 1800s. Inscription reads: ‘To Maria Smania.
Mother and wife.’
Source: The author (2014)

emotions rooted in grief, devotion and piety. Through the processes of exposure and
exaggeration, Italian funerary sculpture transformed that which was intimate, such
as the raw emotions tied to bereavement and familial affections, into meanings that
were intended for consumption within the public realm. This tendency towards
idealisation meant that, within the cemetery, love existed as a force whose strength
and purity might have been difficult to sustain in real life. In that sense, the purpose
of realism was not the accurate exploration of real life, but rather the creation of a
language, or a medium of exchange, that functioned within a particular culture.
At its height, bourgeois realism resulted in the creation of tableaux vivants, or
theatrical scenes that were framed in a manner akin to a stage set. In addition to any
potential influences that originated from the theatre, the popular tradition of the sacro
monte was maintained, however inadvertently, through pathways lined by dramatic
portrayals of virtue and emotion. There was also some correspondence between
bourgeois realism and the bourgeoning medium of photography with respect to the
capacity of both to capture an instant in time, and to represent reality as an
The monumental cemetery 75

Figure 2.24 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Raggio tomb, Augusto Rivalta, 1872
Source: The author (2015)

accumulation of significant details. Photography was central to a bourgeois ‘cult of


the image’ and to the creation of collective memories through a new, and relatively
inexpensive, medium.144 It lent support to the urge to generate and maintain social
identities. Thus, comparisons might be drawn between the graveyard tableaux and
the genre of the individual, or family, photographic portrait as embraced by the
bourgeoisie. In both, the family is represented through a network of signs that unites
the intimate and the public. Similarly, binding ties of love and duty are woven together
with symbols of status, power and consumption. Moreover, in both media, the
depiction of interiors testifies to the importance of the home in bourgeois culture as
a sanctuary, but also as a place of socialisation and good taste.145 Together with
appropriate manners, taste was central to the efforts of the emergent Italian middle
classes to create a defining web of social codes and aesthetics meanings, which might
help secure their position and overcome their insecurities.146 Again, women played a
part as curators of taste within the household, and as bearers of a range of values
through which the ‘domestic’ was institutionalised, or made public, in the cemetery.
In fact, it is remarkable how many sculptures bear the influence of photography and
are also set within domestic interiors, rather than in a public space (see Figures
2.26–2.27).
In the 1860s, as funerary sculpture evolved towards realism and the representation
of modern life, funerary architecture saw a revival of historical styles and old
76 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.25 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Badaracco tomb, 1878


Source: The author (2015)
The monumental cemetery 77

Figure 2.26 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Facchi tomb, 1877


Source: The author (2012)

vocabularies, particularly from the Middle Ages. This brought a divergence in Italian
1cemeteries between sculpture and architecture, as modern and everyday middle-class
scenes were cast against the backdrop of Gothic or Renaissance revival architecture.
Exemplary in that respect is the tomb at the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa of the
physician Domenico Bomba (died 1885). Doctor Bomba is shown reclining in a lifelike
position on a modern armchair, but he is framed by a neo-medieval niche. It was not
that revivalist architecture was less representative, or expressive, of nineteenth-century
culture than realist sculpture, but rather that historical styles befitted the particular
conditions of Italian funerary architecture (see Chapter 4), while realism was better
suited to sculpture and the depiction of bourgeois life.
78 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.27 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Bomba tomb, 1885


Source: The author (2015)
The monumental cemetery 79

Figure 2.28 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pignone tomb, Giuseppe Benetti, 1867
Source: The author (2015)

The late 1800s brought major developments in the field of bourgeois realism. There
was a surge in the popularity of deathbed scenes that pointed to broader cultural
changes. The dying were shown surrounded by relatives as they passed into the
collective memory or the enduring memory of the family (see Figure 2.24). If the value
of a life might be measured at the moment of death, then the presence of a family
was the final proof of achievement and a secular form of immortality. Therefore, the
status of the individual was endorsed, not only through work, but also within the
family as the emotional heartland of bourgeois society. Again, the influence of
photography can be identified in the attempt to capture a significant moment in family
life. However, the increase in deathbed scenes in the 1880s–1890s also coincided with
a period of cultural and economic crisis for the bourgeoisie when funerary culture
was laced with morbid and erotic overtones.147 Associations of eros with thanathos,
or sublimations of death as sexual oblivion, are manifested in the depiction of erotic
female figures that represent the deceased, widows, angels or female custodians of the
tomb. Tendencies towards the macabre and the erotic might be seen to have a
common origin in an increased anxiety about death, and in a period of uncertainty
in the late nineteenth century when the middle classes struggled to redefine their
position in economic and political terms.
Generally, however, until the end of the 1800s, realism was a powerful medium
for bourgeois culture, as distilled by the epitaph on the Queirolo tomb (1876) in
80 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.29 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Pienovi tomb, Giovanni Battista Villa, 1879
Source: The author (2015)

Genoa’s Staglieno cemetery, which reads ‘Lavoro Onestà Famiglia’ (‘Work Honesty
Family’). That trinity of values was central to the self-image of the middle classes and
it defined life in terms of the idealisation of the family, the professions, the entrepreneur,
the power of the pater familias and virtues such as industry and charity. As a style,
bourgeois realism was not engineered to expose the full reality of bourgeois life. For
instance, it masked the fact that charity followed inevitably from social inequality.
Yet, the certainties that it afforded celebrated the glories of entrepreneurship rather
than the ills of industrialisation, patronage rather than the exploitation of labour, and
the virtues and rewards associated with conformity instead of its necessary sacrifices.

The cemetery and the city


As a product of the same cultural and socio-economic conditions, the monumental
cemetery offered a condensed account of the city and of its physical and social struc-
tures. Both city and cemetery were shaped by a common system of social relation-
ships that was expressed in the arrangement of graves and tombs within a public
framework, which in turn mirrored the spatial hierarchies of the parent city.148
In 1967, the French theorist Michel Foucault highlighted the role of the cemetery as
a heterotopia, or a space that is apart from the city, but with which it is twinned.149
As death came to be considered an ‘illness’, or deviation, with the Enlightenment,
the dead were relegated to the ‘other city’. However, in nineteenth-century Italy, the
The monumental cemetery 81

Figure 2.30 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, tomb of Carlo Erba, Santo Saccomanno, 1883
Source: The author (2009)

significance of the cemetery was still measured by its capacity to represent the city in
the collective consciousness. From the early 1800s, efforts to furnish large cities with
one major public cemetery underlined the importance of a binary correspondence
between cities and their cemeteries, and marked a significant shift away from strategies
of the late 1700s that favoured the provision of a number of smaller burial grounds.
In Naples, plans dating from 1782 for four new cemeteries were scrapped when, in
1809, it was decided to construct a single municipal cemetery.150 Similarly, in 1838,
Rome’s Verano cemetery (1811) was expanded ‘in line with the principle that Rome
should have but one burial ground’.151
82 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.31 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Celle tomb, Giulio Monteverde, 1891–1893
Source: The author (2015)
The monumental cemetery 83
In Milan, five small graveyards were initiated in 1786 in the form of the fopponi.
Roughly 50 years later, in 1838, the authorities adopted a proposal to build one
common burial ground, which eventually led to the construction of Milan’s Monu-
mentale cemetery in 1863. That cemetery was initially intended to serve the needs of
the entire city, but in order to avoid the accumulation of approximately 8,000 corpses
a year at one location, the fopponi had to remain open. According to one local
councillor, that the fopponi were used for the burial of the poor created ‘a repugnant
inequality’.152 In fact, Milan’s fopponi were eventually closed when the larger cemetery
of Musocco was founded in 1895 to cater for those of lower economic means. The
Musocco was less prestigious than the Monumentale and was situated at a greater
distance from the city centre. As such, comparisons can be drawn with the strategies
of the 1884 master plan for Milan with regards to the suburbanisation of housing for
the poor.153 In Milan, the ambition to create a single cemetery for the city exposed
practical issues concerning the concentration of the dead at one location. Centralisation
meant that cemeteries needed to be sufficiently large, or open to enlargement, if they
were to fulfil the needs generated by urban expansion. Nevertheless, in 1885, a
proposal for a secondary cemetery at Genoa was rejected as it was considered unjust
to create a burial ground for the poor as an alternative to the monumental cemetery
of Staglieno.154 Equally unsuccessful was a suggestion to build a rival to the Verano
cemetery in Rome in 1880.155 Thus, the creation of large civic cemeteries reflected
demographic pressures, but it also followed from the urge to give weight to one
monumental cemetery that might be socially inclusive and evidently significant in civic
and political terms.
While Italian cities and their monumental cemeteries were united within the collective
consciousness, the cemetery was, in itself, a ‘theatre’ of the collective memory. It was
a special place of purified and exaggerated functions within which the dead were
commemorated, and individual and common memories were objectified. Following
the work of Maurice Halbwachs (1877–1945) on the location of collective memories
in space, or perhaps that of Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) on the capacity of
architecture to ‘retain’ memories, the monumental cemetery demonstrates how specific
meanings can be lodged in a particular place.156 It illustrates Aldo Rossi’s (1931–1997)
idea that ‘the city is the collective memory of its people’.157 In fact, the cemetery serves
the collective memory more efficiently than the city because of the singularity of its
primary purpose and the purity of its architectural and planning frameworks.
Essentially, its main role is as a luogo della memoria or a site of memory.158
In Italy, the symbolic value of the cemetery was enhanced by the degree to which
it was used as a major element of the urban or public realm. Monumental cemeteries
acted as meeting places, collective venues and destinations for day trips, particularly
on Sundays and religious holidays. In Genoa, in 1863, a local newspaper described:

an extraordinary crowd directed to the [Staglieno] cemetery . . . on a trip outside


the city walls that might be qualified as a pleasure jaunt, if the destination did
not discourage this description . . . Carriages were arriving one after another to
the entrance . . ., transporting entire families . . . already attired in the most elegant
and capricious autumnal trends.159

In 1886, a French visitor noted that Genoa’s Staglieno cemetery:


84 The monumental cemetery
is a meeting place on Sundays and holidays. All around the burial ground, merry
companies laugh and sing, and strict regulations are necessary to stop the visitors
from using the tomb slabs as picnic tables, as they get carried away by their trip
to the country.160

Similarly, in 1877, another writer enquired of his audience:

Have you noticed those doleful damsels, for whom a trip to the cemetery is an
occasion to get some fresh air and bat their eyelids? They smile from under their
black veils at the young men, who whistle at them as they pass by. Their affected
jolliness is as great as their fear of God.161

However exaggerated, such comments testify to the importance of the cemetery as


a public ‘living room’, and as a significant element of the Italian city that had the
power to reinforce social relationships and collective memories through rituals and
traditions.162
The importance of monumental cemeteries for the community was also demon-
strated by the extent to which they featured in local and national newspapers, satirical
and political periodicals, and journals dedicated to architecture and art. Both specialist
periodicals and the general press participated in discussions concerning cemetery
projects and the selection of appropriate designs. As will be shown in Chapter 4,
Italy’s new cemeteries provided a focus for architectural debates that swept through
nineteenth-century Europe, and which addressed the values inherent in different
styles and their relative appropriateness to specific contexts. Within Italy, articles and
pamphlets covered the foundation, construction and inauguration of new cemeteries.
Some were written by architects as interested parties who lobbied for new projects
and for the extension of existing burial grounds. For instance, the design by the
architect Ferdinando Canonici for the cemetery at Ferrara was promoted by two
publications in the 1850s, one of which was written by Canonici.163 Similarly, in a
pamphlet of 1860, the architectural theorist Pietro Selvatico lay down precise
instructions for the establishment of a new cemetery in Padua that proved to be highly
influential when construction began on the cemetery in 1880.164 Journals also offered
architects the opportunity to suggest alternative projects to those commissioned by
municipal authorities.165 Following the foundation of a new burial ground, its design
might be published in order to advertise the project and its designer. For example, in
1833, the architect Giuseppe Barbieri (1777–1838) published drawings for the new
cemetery at Verona that was built in 1828–1844.166 Given the expenditure and time
involved in the construction of a civic cemetery, such publications also served to
encourage the public or private investment required to complete planning frameworks.
Moreover, local newspapers reported on events held at the beginning of November
for the morti, or nationwide commemoration of the dead. At that point, it was
customary for the local press to review new funerary monuments erected over the
course of the previous year – a tradition that persisted in Genoa from the 1850s to
the 1890s.167 It is also interesting that the process of commemoration was a national,
but also a divisive, event. Whereas the first day of November was dedicated to a general
remembrance of the deceased, the second was devoted exclusively to those of Catholic
faith.
The monumental cemetery 85
As the new burial grounds gained a wider audience through the growth of tourism,
a multitude of guidebooks and travelogues were written to cater for Italian and
international tourists. For example, guidebooks to the cemetery of Bologna appeared
in 1821, 1828 and 1890.168 In addition, between 1825 and 1828, the editor Giovanni
Zecchi published, in monthly instalments, 160 engravings of funerary monuments
located in Bologna, together with brief biographical details and epigraphs.169 As Zecchi
explained, publication of the engravings was prompted by the fact that ‘visitors wish
to have a souvenir of the work of valiant artists’ and ‘it is an honour for our native
city [patria] to spread and glorify the names of our citizens’.170
The social and cultural functions of the monumental cemeteries are also evidenced
in the fact that they were presented as ‘museums’. In 1858, the writer Davide Chiossone
(1820–1875) observed that ‘whilst our cemetery [the Staglieno in Genoa] is inevitably
filling up with human bones, it is also being embellished by rich artistic monuments,
to the point that the left side . . . already resembles a gallery of funerary art’.171
Similarly, in 1834, a foreign visitor concluded that Bologna’s cemetery ‘could be called
a Museum’.172 Such observations were prompted by cemeteries that were akin to the
Campo Santo in Pisa, and which resembled museums because they embodied ‘galleries’
with monuments and plaques arranged against walls. For example, the extension to
the cemetery of Bologna, the galleria a tre navate (1863) by the engineer Coriolano
Monti (1815–1880), is closely related in architectural terms to the braccio nuovo or
new wing (1816–1822) of the Vatican Museums by Raffaele Stern.173
Whatever their physical similarities, the monumental cemetery and the museum
shared the same cultural space.174 As comparable institutions, they showcased art,
promoted civic virtue, and endorsed a common history in a manner that was analogous
but distinct. In 1862, the judges of a competition for the new monumental cemetery
in Milan criticised one submission as lacking ‘any feature of a cemetery’ and as having
‘the irreligious appearance of a museum for sculpture’.175 The artistic quality of a
cemetery was seen to be related to civic pride and the prestige of the city. In Bologna,
in 1815, two influential members of the local Clementina Academy argued that, as
the burial ground was ‘an extraordinary ornament to this City’, it was imperative for
the academy to control the quality of its monuments.176 As a result, from 1815,
all projects for new funerary monuments at Bologna were subjected to the approval
of representatives of the academy. This episode shows how art within the cemetery
might be subject to regulation by public bodies, or controlled by a cultural elite.
Moreover, in 1850, the architect Luigi Tatti affirmed that the construction of the
monumental cemetery at Como would ‘glorify and embellish’ the city.177 Similarly,
in 1856, the creation of a new cemetery in Milan was thought to ‘increase the grandeur
and glory of the city’.178 Four years later, in 1860, the local councillor Carlo Tenca
(1816–1883) expressed the continuing need to furnish Milan with ‘a burial place
worthy of a rich and populated city’.179
Analogies might be also drawn between the cemetery and other components of the
parent city such as the opera house and café. Like the museum or monumental
cemetery, they were key elements of the city, and accommodated cultural and political
processes associated with the Risorgimento and bourgeois life. They helped to assert
the status of the middle classes and to disseminate fledgling ideals of nationhood.
As in Italy’s new burial grounds, those ends were served by meanings embodied in
their architecture. In the 1800s, Italian cafés employed innovative designs in order to
attract a desirable clientele and functioned as social venues that reinforced the identity
86 The monumental cemetery
of the bourgeoisie. In the context of the movement for independence, they also
accommodated political activity that promoted the creation of the nation state.180 The
Pedrocchi Café in Padua is a renowned example of an architectural landmark that
acted as a backdrop for the events of the Risorgimento.181 As will be explored in the
next chapter, monumental cemeteries performed a comparable role as public spaces
that were drawn into the process of nation-building.
Equally, opera was akin to funerary architecture and bourgeois realism as media
that helped to define nineteenth-century Italy as a Kulturenation (cultural nation).182
As perhaps the most sophisticated and characteristic product of Italian romanticism,
opera was seen as a way to promote national insurrection by channelling strong
emotions. In particular, the work of Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868) and Giuseppe
Verdi (1813–1901) was invested with meanings associated with patriotism, nationalism
and anticlericalism. Patriotic interpretations of Verdi’s operas meant that he was
celebrated as a ‘father of the fatherland’ and the ‘bard of the Risorgimento’. Although
revisionists have recently questioned the nationalist intent attributed to Italian opera,
the issue can be resolved by shifting the focus from intention to reception, or to the
degree of patriotic content that was perceived by the public. Associations can be drawn
between the opera houses and cemeteries of nineteenth-century Italy as places of
political engagement. Memorably, the idea that opera and monumental cemeteries
served the same cultural and political processes was underlined by Verdi’s funeral in
1901, which was an occasion of national grief and a public event of remarkable
proportions. Film footage (possibly the earliest shot in Italy) shows Verdi’s coffin being
transported from the centre of Milan to the city’s monumental cemetery in a procession
that was attended by more than 300,000 mourners.183 Few images could be more
evocative of the relationships between opera, the cemetery and its rituals, and the
bourgeois city.
Whereas the cemetery provided a place where ‘doleful damsels’ might ‘bat their
eyelids’, the opera house was also a venue within which different elements of Italian
society might come together. It served a general audience, both as a vehicle of ideology
and as a mark of the status of a city and the nation. The civic functions of the opera
house were exemplified by the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, which was begun in
1826 to the designs of Carlo Barabino (1768–1835), the original architect of Genoa’s
monumental cemetery of Staglieno.184 As with Staglieno, the Carlo Felice operated as
a beacon of a new social and political order, which emerged after Genoa was brought
under the Kingdom of Savoy in 1815. In addition, both the cemetery and the opera
house embodied spatial frameworks through which society was sifted on the basis of
class and other social mechanisms.185 From the late 1700s, the architecture of Italian
opera houses evolved to allow social divisions based on the use of different tiers.
Equally, whereas the monumental cemetery, the museum, the opera house and the
café functioned as physical or social elements of the city, parallels might be traced
between funerary sculpture, the art of the opera house, or the role of photography in
nineteenth-century bourgeois culture.
Comparisons can also be drawn between the cemetery and the piazza as major urban
spaces that accommodated a marked degree of social interaction, or which forwarded
the shared meanings, memories and identities that bound society together within the
city. A visit to the cemetery on Sunday afternoon served much the same functions as
the passeggiata or ritual stroll through the piazza that was, and still is, an occasion
The monumental cemetery 87
for exchange and social cohesion. Politically, the piazza and the cemetery housed
meanings that resonated within public consciousness.186 During the Risorgimento, the
piazza acted as an arena for political action. After unification, it was central to efforts
to create modern, ordered and hygienic cities for the new Italy. Its political functions
were reinforced by the extensive renaming of public spaces, and by the erection of
monuments and major buildings that were intended to honour the nation and its heroes
– a programme through which the new political elite exploited civic values that were
invested in urban space.187 Although burial grounds were generally untouched by
militancy, they provided a forum for the development of common ideological
frameworks. The cemetery also shared with the piazza political functions that involved
the establishment and projection of civic and national identities; functions that were
supported, in both cases, through architecture, sculpture and planning.
Similarly, the monumental cemeteries might be associated with Italy’s Great
Exhibitions.188 Both comprised ‘ideal’ buildings that were produced by a conjunction
of public and private funding. They both acted as showcases for the achievements,
and belief systems, of a city and its middle classes. The fairs served to endorse a national
identity that was based on the cultural values of the industrialised north of Italy. They
were aimed at the promotion of political integration and social unity, and at the
enhancement of Italy’s image abroad. For instance, the national exhibitions of 1850,
1858, 1884 and 1898, which were held in Turin (Italy’s capital city in 1860–1865),
were intended to buttress the identity of the new nation by emphasising the value and
distinctiveness of Italian traditions.189 The exhibitions contributed to an idealised view
of Italy’s past through references to its national heritage and through the use of
historicist architectural styles, as in the mock-medieval Piedmontese village that was
built for the exhibition in Turin of 1884. As evidenced below, historicism served similar
ends within Italy’s cemeteries, which were taken to represent both the nation and its
major cities within contexts coloured by interurban and international rivalry.
Italy’s monumental cemeteries and its Great Exhibitions are also comparable in
that both exploited ideas that fuelled the evolution of town planning and the
organisation of the city.190 The nature of Italian urbanisation changed from the late
eighteenth century as the occupying French authorities brought a new interventionist
approach to planning.191 In line with French ideological and political aspirations,
planning was seen to operate in the name of rationality and the ‘public interest’; for
example, in relation to urban expansion and the demolition of city walls. Although
generally established outside urban boundaries, the monumental cemeteries had
tangible effects on town planning, the expansion of cities, and the manner in which
suburbs were linked to city centres. They exerted a gravitational force with respect
to urban growth, and stimulated investment in adjoining areas and along the new and
existing avenues through which they were connected to city centres. In Genoa, for
example, the establishment of the Staglieno burial ground in the 1840s encouraged
the expansion of the city along the River Bisagno.192 Similarly, in Turin, the expanding
city encroached on its cemetery (begun 1828) in the last decades of the nineteenth
century (Catalogue 23).
The positioning of the cemetery in relation to the city was thought to be of particular
importance. To that end, in 1856, it was suggested that a ‘sumptuous avenue’ should
provide a perpendicular axis to unite Milan’s city centre with the entrance to its
new monumental cemetery.193 In fact, a plan for the cemetery was rotated, in 1857,
88 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.32 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, proposal to rotate plan, Giuseppe Pestagalli,
1857
Source: Milan, Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco
The monumental cemetery 89

Figure 2.33 Verona, monumental cemetery, Giuseppe Barbieri, 1827


Source: Courtesy of Biblioteca Civica di Verona, Stampe 2. n. 16
90 The monumental cemetery
so that its façade was oriented towards the city’s centre. Later, in 1884, a section of
Milan’s city walls was demolished to allow for a new axis that established a physical
and visual link between the cemetery and the city centre. Equally, in 1827, the choice
of location for Verona’s new cemetery had a significant impact on the development
of the city in that, ultimately, in 1879, it triggered the construction of a bridge and
the creation of a new axis that radiated from the core of the city at Piazza Bra.
Some monumental cemeteries were located as new landmarks along existing major
routes; for example, in Brescia, the cemetery was situated on the road to Milan and
suggestions of the ancient Roman Appian Way were underlined by the creation of an
avenue in 1825 that was flanked by mausolea and cypress trees. Burial grounds were
also placed in a manner that generated relationships with other important urban sites,
as, for example, in Bologna, where Ercole Gasparini created interconnecting porticoes
between the entrance to the Certosa cemetery, the city gate and the monumental arcade
of the seventeenth-century sanctuary of San Luca (see Catalogue 1).194 As well as
providing shelter and the benefits of an association with a sacred site, that project
added a new element to Bologna’s web of porticoes. In 1839, a French tourist
described Gasparini’s arcades as ‘the large arms that the cemetery reaches out to the
city’, so that ‘to rest [in the cemetery] or to live [in the city] becomes the same thing’.195
Similarly, perhaps the most remarkable connection between a city and a cemetery
resulted from the Venetian tradition of the Ponte dei Morti, a temporary bridge
of pontoons that was created annually to accommodate a procession of mourners,
on the day of the morti, from Venice to the monumental cemetery on the island of
San Michele.196

Figure 2.34 Brescia, monumental cemetery, avenue, 1825


Source: The author (2012)
The monumental cemetery 91
While the monumental cemeteries influenced planning strategies in individual cities,
general developments in town planning were mirrored in the organisation of cemeteries.
During the 1800s, industrialisation, in-migration and urban expansion brought
about the conversion of agricultural land to industrial and residential use, the
modernisation of medieval cores, and the development of road networks and new
systems of transportation – advances that were largely promoted by the urban middle
classes.197 Following unification, a number of major Italian cities were subjected to
extensive plans of redevelopment, which were driven partly by a political agenda to
eliminate memories of previous regimes and to remake cities in the image of new
rulers.198 Planning concepts that were devised in response to those developments were
expressed, albeit in a reduced or purified form, in the organisation of the monumental
cemeteries. As with the Great Exhibitions, size and singularity of purpose meant that
the cemeteries could embody evidently planned and rational structures, which were
based, for example, on the use of octagonal or concentric spatial frameworks
punctuated by major buildings and monuments, or on a hierarchical system of
avenues, ronds-points and well-defined open spaces. Thus, in the monumental cemetery
at Brescia (1815), a broad avenue, which was accentuated by monuments and other
spatial devices, was set within a hierarchy of axial views that characterised a
neoclassical ‘city of the dead’ (see Figure 2.3 and Catalogue 2).
The various plans for Milan’s Monumentale cemetery can be seen as links in a chain
of urban projects that ranged from the Napoleonic proposals for that city of 1807 to
the more successful strategy of 1884 to create routes radiating from the city centre
towards Milan’s suburbs.199 In line with the final project of 1863, the cemetery incorp-
orates promenades, or the tree-shaded avenues introduced by Napoleonic planning,
into a structure of diagonal pathways that is more flexible than the rigid, or axial,
layouts favoured by French planners, and which recalls late nineteenth-century
approaches to Milan’s redevelopment. Nor was neoclassicism the only major influence
on Italian funerary design. The picturesque plans created in the 1870s for the extension
of the Verano cemetery in Rome and the Staglieno in Genoa had parallels within Italian
town planning; for example, with the serpentine layout of tree-lined avenues that
ascended a hill at the Corso Maria Teresa of 1853–1860 in Naples, and at the Stradone
dei Colli (1865–1877) in Florence.200
Whereas relationships can be drawn between the organisation of the monumental
cemetery and urban planning, and with specific urban elements such as the opera
house, the café and the piazza, all of those correspondences operated within an allied
network of social and cultural functions. The functions embodied in the monumental
cemeteries were incorporated into that network, together with whatever social purposes
were associated with art, photography, opera, literature and other forms of expression
that sprang from a common cultural context. In short, the cemetery can be seen both
as a living entity within the physical and functional structures of the city, and as a
highly significant component of urban culture and society.

Necessary inventions
Any attempt to expose the cultural factors that spurred the emergence of Italy’s
monumental cemeteries will be somewhat reductive. The complexities inherent in
culture and its attendant ideologies are such that a full understanding of a society’s
92 The monumental cemetery

Figure 2.35 Milan, Monumentale cemetery


Source: © Google Earth

approach to death is difficult to grasp. It cannot be gleaned from particular areas of


culture, such as graveyard poetry or funerary sculpture, or measured solely through
an examination of the relationships between funerary art and society. However, it is
possible to identify how specific cultural and socio-economic conditions, which were
central to the character of life in nineteenth-century Italy, were reflected in the physical
characteristics of its new cemeteries. Moreover, those cemeteries did not simply mirror
the forces through which they were engendered, but also returned, or recirculated,
those forces in a continuing process of cultural, socio-economic and political evolution.
In that respect, it should be noted that the Italian monumental cemetery was essentially
The monumental cemetery 93
a modern and necessary invention. It differed from earlier burial grounds insofar as
it was suburban, public, broadly secular, large and grandiose. Although it owed
something to French legislation of the early 1800s, its monumentality was unparalleled
within Europe and its roots lay in a period of momentous change in Italian politics,
culture and society. Its art, architecture and planning resulted from a need to express
evolving attitudes to death and commemoration, and especially changes that marked
the rise of the middle classes. The new cemeteries also responded to cultural shifts
that were rooted in distinctly Italian, and patriotic, definitions of romanticism. Equally,
native architectural sources and cultural traditions helped shape the monumental
tendency in Italian funerary architecture and fed imperatives, which were markedly
different from those that underpinned French and British models of the garden
cemetery. More importantly, the new cemeteries marked the redistribution and
evolution of power within Italy, and accommodated a new style of funerary sculpture
that exposed key mechanisms in the culture, morality and ideology of the bourgeoisie.
On another level, the significance of Italian monumental cemeteries can be assessed
in terms of the symbolic relationships through which cemeteries were bound together
with their parent cities. Essentially, Italy’s new cemeteries demonstrated how funerary
architecture was adapted to serve immediate forces that were, in part, common to
other European cultures, but which resulted particularly from the cultural and political
conditions of a fledgling nation.

Notes
1 Stuart Woolf, A History of Italy 1700–1860: The Social Constraints of Political Change
(London: Methuen, 1979), 162–7; Derek Beales and Eugenio Biagini, The Risorgimento
and the Unification of Italy (London: Pearson Education, 2002), 24–8; Christopher
Duggan, The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy since 1796 (London: Allen Lane, 2007),
3–23; Lucy Riall, Risorgimento: The History of Italy from Napoleon to the Nation-State
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 4–10.
2 On the culture of the Restoration, see: Woolf, A History of Italy, 234–6; Duggan, The
Force of Destiny, 73–82.
3 Woolf, A History of Italy, 300–3; Beales and Biagini, The Risorgimento, 40–9 and 83–99;
Riall, Risorgimento, 14–25.
4 Paul Ginsborg, ‘European Romanticism and the Italian Risorgimento’, in The Risorgimento
Revisited: Nationalism and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Italy, ed. Silvana Patriarca and
Lucy Riall (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
5 Beales and Biagini, The Risorgimento, 155–6.
6 The most comprehensive guidelines were provided by the decree of 3 January 1811:
Bollettino delle leggi del Regno d’Italia (Milan: Stamperia Reale, 1805–1814), I, 4–12.
See also: Philippe Ariès, The Hour of Our Death (London: Allen Lane, 1981), 517–19;
Richard A. Etlin, The Architecture of Death: The Transformation of the Cemetery in
Eighteenth-Century Paris (London: MIT Press, 1984), 300; Grazia Tomasi, Per salvare i
viventi: Le origini settecentesche del cimitero extraurbano (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2001),
129 and 194.
7 John McManners, Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death among
Christians and Unbelievers in Eighteenth-Century France (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1985), 445.
8 Cesare Simonelli, Istruzioni per i Custodi del Nuovo Campo Santo, 1 December 1783
(Pisa, Archivio di Stato, Comune di Pisa, Div. D, n. 996). Equally, in Bologna in 1801,
the Napoleonic administration stressed the importance of ‘digging as many graves, as the
Individuals that are to be buried’ (Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Napoleonico,
Archivio Departimentale, XI, b. 318, Bologna, fascetto 1, 1 ventoso anno IX/1 February
1801).
94 The monumental cemetery
9 Report of 29 May 1812, quoted in Diego Carnevale, ‘Idee e progetti per la riforma
cimiteriale nella Napoli napoleonica: Tra riflessione medica ed esperienze tecniche’,
Medicina nei secoli. Arte e scienza 23/3 (2011), 655.
10 E.V. [?], ‘Del gran camposanto di Napoli’, Annali civili del Regno delle Due Sicilie XLI
(1839), 85.
11 Massimo Bulgarelli, ‘L’affare delle sepolture a Modena nella seconda metà del XVIII secolo.
Questioni mediche, amministrative, tecniche, architettoniche, militari’, Storia urbana XIV,
51 (June 1990), 11–13.
12 Laura Bertolaccini, Città e cimiteri: Dall’eredità medievale alla codificazione ottocentesca
(Rome: Edizioni Kappa, 2004), 130. Likewise, in 1867, a competition entry for a new
cemetery at Padua was condemned because it included mass graves, which were thought
to be ‘improper and adverse to public health’ (Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali,
Sanità, b. 1153, Camillo Boito, ‘Voti del Ing. Camillo Boito’, 5).
13 Although largely destroyed, the fopponi can be reconstructed on the basis of descriptions:
Carlo Tedeschi, Origini e vicende dei cimiteri di Milano e del servizio mortuario (Milan:
G. Agnelli, 1899), 11–14 and 21–30.
14 Debora Antonini, ‘I cimiteri a Venezia all’inizio dell’Ottocento per una preistoria del
camposanto lagunare’, in L’Architettura della memoria in Italia: Cimiteri, Monumenti e
Città 1750–1939, ed. Maria Giuffrè et al. (Milan: Skira Editore, 2007), 104.
15 On the Campo Santo, see: Howard Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life (London: Yale
University Press, 1991), 364–6.
16 For instance, the novelist and art historian Giovanni Rosini (1776–1855) wrote a number
of widely known texts on the Campo Santo in the early 1800s: Robyn Cooper, ‘“The
Crowning Glory of Pisa”: Nineteenth-Century Reactions to the Campo Santo’, Italian
Studies 37 (1 January 1982).
17 Giuseppe Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo
I (February 1854), 357. Moreover, in 1824, the Campo Santo was described as ‘the
birthplace of the fine arts’: Davide Bertolotti, Amore e sepolcri (Milan: Società Tip. de’
Classici Italiani, 1824), 67.
18 Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, Encyclopédie méthodique (Paris:
Panckoucke, 1788), 681–2; Dictionnaire historique d’architecture (Paris: Librairie d’Adrien
le Clere, 1832), 386–7. On Quatremère de Quincy’s influence: Giovanna D’Amia and
Giuliana Ricci, ed., La cultura architettonica nell’età della restaurazione (Milan: Mimesis
Edizioni, 2002), 21.
19 Cooper, ‘“The Crowning Glory of Pisa”’, 89.
20 Pietro Selvatico, Sul futuro cimitero di Padova (Padua: Prosperini, 1860), 10–11.
21 Letter of 20 October 1812 from the Prefect of Rome, Camille de Tournon, to the Mayor,
Luigi Braschi Onesti (Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione del Buon Governo, s. III,
b. 126).
22 Maria Antonietta Visceglia, Il bisogno di eternità: I comportamenti aristocratici a Napoli
in età moderna (Naples: Guida, 1988), 107–39 and 600. See also, by the same author:
‘Corpo e sepoltura nei testamenti della nobiltà napoletana (XVI–XVIII secolo)’, Quaderni
Storici 50 (1982).
23 On a smaller scale, the Napoleonic administration at Tivoli, near Rome, planned to
transform a convent into a cemetery in 1812 (Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione
del Buon Governo, s. III, b. 126, ‘Progetto dello stabilimento di un nuovo Cimiterio nella
Comune di Tivoli’). That proposal was unsuccessful, as was the attempt, in 1816, by the
architect Giuseppe Barbieri to convert the convent of San Bernardino in Verona into a
public cemetery: Vincenzo Pavan, ‘Il cimitero di Verona’, in Ultime dimore (Verona:
Arsenale, 1987), 40–3. Nonetheless, as the wealthy had been buried in that convent since
1806, it may be taken to illustrate the role of religious buildings in the maintenance of
Italian funerary traditions.
24 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Manifesti, 1801, Avviso della Commissione di
Sanità nel Dipartimento del Reno della Repubblica Cisalpina, 12 ventoso anno IX/3 March
1801.
25 Luigi Latini, Cimiteri e giardini: Città e paesaggi funerari d’Occidente (Florence: Alinea,
1994), 92.
The monumental cemetery 95
26 Rudolf Wittkower, ‘“Sacri Monti” in the Italian Alps’, in Idea and Image: Studies in the
Italian Renaissance (London: Thames & Hudson, 1978); Mauro Quercioli, I Sacri Monti
(Rome: Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 2005).
27 Eugenio Battisti, ‘Il sacro monte come simbolo, misura ed ars memoriae’, in Centro di
Documentazione dei Sacri Monti, Calvari e Complessi devozionali europei (Quarona:
Tipografia Delos, 2009), 45–6. On mnemonic techniques centred on space, see: Frances
A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966).
28 Valerio Terraroli, Il Vantiniano: La scultura monumentale a Brescia tra Ottocento e
Novecento (Brescia: Grafo, 1990), 12.
29 The Temple of Vesta (first century BC) formed the basis for an academic funerary project
of 1795 by Jorge Durán. Equally, the Temple of Fortuna (82 BC) influenced the design
of an academic funerary project of 1795 by Giovanni Lazzarini, and of two projects for
the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, created respectively by Carlo Barabino in 1833 and by
Gino Coppedè, Giuseppe Predasso and Giuseppe de Gaspari in the early 1900s.
30 Ornella Selvafolta, ‘Il Famedio: Un’architettura per la città’, in Nel famedio del
monumentale: Il Pantheon di Milano (Milan: Chimera, 2005).
31 Bertolotti, Amore; Stanislao Grottanelli De’ Santi, Cenni storici sulle sepolture pubbliche,
e privilegiate e voto medico-legale sopra alcuni particolari nell’interno, o nelle vicinanze
delle città (Pisa: Tipografia Pieraccini, 1846).
32 Giovanni Battista Giovio, ‘I Cimiteri’, in Alcune prose del conte Giambatista Giovio
cavaliere dell’Ordine di S. Stefano (Milan: Giovanni Silvestri, 1824).
33 Ippolito Andreasi, Cenno storico-artistico sul Comunale Camposanto nell’antica Certosa
di Ferrara (Ferrara: Michelangelo Maccanti, 1885, 37.
34 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 171–97.
35 Ercole Silva, Dell’arte de’ giardini inglesi (Milan: Longanesi, 1976).
36 Rome, Archivio storico del Vicariato, plico 14, Giulio Cesare Gabrielli, ‘Proggetto sui
Cimiterj’, 27 August 1835, 3.
37 Carlo Borromeo, Instructionum fabricae et supellectilis ecclesiasticae (Vatican City:
Libreria editrice vaticana, 2000), 135.
38 Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, 358.
39 Paolo Mencacci, I cimiteri di Roma, 1865, quoted in Wolfgang Krogel, All’ombra della
piramide: Storia e interpretazione del cimitero acattolico di Roma (Rome: Unione
internazionale degli istituti di archeologia, storia e storia dell’arte, 1995), 43.
40 Nicholas Stanley Price, The Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome: Its History, Its People and
Its Survival for 300 Years (Rome: Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, 2014), 36.
41 John Claudius Loudon, On the Laying out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries, and
on the Improvement of Churchyards (London: The author, 1843).
42 Gabriella Villetti, ‘Il Cimitero acattolico al Testaccio’, Bollettino della Biblioteca della
Facoltà d’Architettura ‘La Sapienza’ 34–5 (1985); Antonio Menniti Ippolito and Paolo
Vian, ed., The Protestant Cemetery in Rome: The ‘Parte antica’ (Rome: Unione
internazionale degli istituti di archeologia, storia e storia dell’arte in Roma, 1989); Krogel,
All’ombra della piramide; Stanley Price, The Non-Catholic Cemetery; Antonio Menniti
Ippolito, Il Cimitero Acattolico di Roma: La presenza protestante nella città del papa
(Rome: Viella, 2014).
43 Luigi Tatti, Il Camposanto di Como: Memoria apologetica dell’architetto Luigi Tatti
(Milan: Domenico Salvi e comp., 1850), 23.
44 Ornella Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione: I cimiteri della prima metà dell’Ottocento nel
Lombardo-Veneto’, in L’Architettura della memoria, 140. Equally, a project of 1863 by
Mariano Falcini (1804–1885) for San Miniato cemetery in Florence, of which only a
portion was built, included a Protestant area arranged as a garden cemetery (Florence,
Archivio Disegni della Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici, Disegni n. 09/373639,
allegato 6).
45 Ippolito and Vian, The Protestant Cemetery, 19. The persistence of that tradition is
evidenced by a pamphlet written in 1919 to promote burial in vaults as an Italian custom:
Domenico Valle, Il cimitero italiano (Bergamo: Fratelli Bolis, 1919).
46 Pisa, Archivio di Stato, Comune di Pisa, Div. D, 1522, c. 268, Istruzioni per la formazione
dei Camposanti a sterro, 1783.
96 The monumental cemetery
47 Attilio La Padula, Roma 1809–1814. Contributo alla storia dell’urbanistica (Rome:
Palombi, 1958), 130.
48 Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione del Buon Governo, s. III, b. 126.
49 Ottorino Montenovesi, Il campo santo di Roma: Storia e descrizione (Rome: L’universelle
imprimerie polyglotte, 1915), 17. Equally, while the Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier
acknowledged that there were two ways to accommodate the dead, ‘in an open field in
the naked earth’ or in a ‘closed [vaulted] structure’, he was keen to underline that his
cemetery project followed the second method: Giuseppe Valadier, Progetti architettonici
per ogni specie di fabriche in stili ed usi diversi (Rome: Incisore a Strada Felice n. 126,
1807), 15.
50 This was demostrated at the Brompton cemetery (1840) in London. See: James Stevens
Curl, Death and Architecture: An Introduction to Funerary and Commemorative Buildings
in the Western European Tradition, with Some Consideration of Their Settings (Stroud:
Sutton, 2002), 241.
51 Selvatico, Sul futuro cimitero, 5.
52 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 July 1862 (straordinaria), XCV, Camillo Boito, ‘Rapporto della
Commissione aggiudicatrice dei premi ai progetti pei due cimiteri’, 209–25.
53 Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, 358.
54 Matteo Giunti and Giacomo Lorenzini, ed., Un archivio di pietra: L’antico cimitero degli
inglesi di Livorno (Pisa: Pacini, 2013).
55 Gaetano Moretti, Il nuovo cimitero per la città di Chiavari (Milan: Bernardoni, 1894)
and ‘Il nuovo cimitero per la Città di Chiavari’, Edilizia Moderna III (March 1894), 17–20.
56 John Dixon Hunt, ‘“Come into the garden, Maud”. Garden Art as a Privileged Mode of
Commemoration and Identity’, in Places of Commemoration: Search for Identity and
Landscape Design, ed. Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks,
2001), 18.
57 Pascal Hintermeyer, Politiques de la mort, tirées du Concours de l’Institut, Germinal an
VIII–Vendémiaire an IX (Paris: Payot, 1981), 2–3; Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 230–6
and 290–5 and Symbolic Space: French Enlightenment Architecture and Its Legacy
(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 156–63 and 163–71.
58 Milan, Archivio Civico, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, Massarani et al., ‘Commissione pel
cimitero monumentale’, 70.
59 Milan, Archivio Civico, Massarani et al., ‘Commissione pel cimitero monumentale’, 70.
60 Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico Comunale, cart. 23, Seduta del
Consiglio Comunale, 21 November 1865.
61 Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico Comunale, cart. 23, Seduta del
Consiglio Comunale, 21 November 1865.
62 That the debate was ideological was demonstrated by the tortuous logic that attempted
to see in the monumental cemeteries some hope for the lingering ideals of egalitarianism.
The architect and archaeologist Luigi Canina (1795–1856) believed that a monumental
format could afford greater equality. Similarly, Luigi Tatti, the architect of the public
cemetery in Como, held that the monumental form expressed ‘the cult of perfect equality
. . . vividly felt by the Italians’ (Tatti, Il Camposanto, 23). The contradictions inherent in
these comments highlight the extent to which the monumental cemetery was a vehicle for
both the dominant forces and dwindling hopes of Italy as a nation.
63 Pisa, Archivio di Stato, Comune di Pisa, Div. D, 1522, c. 268, Istruzioni per la formazione
dei Camposanti a sterro, 1783, no page numbers.
64 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Miscellanee di ragioneria, b. 37, letter of 14 January 1773,
c. 2r.
65 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Miscellanee di ragioneria, b. 37, letter of 14 January 1773,
c. 2r.
66 Modena, Archivio di Stato, Fondo amministrativo, filza 506/2, ‘Rapporto della
Commissione’, 2 April 1855.
67 Paolo Belloni, Il Campo Santo di Roma (Rome: Tipografia di C. Puccinelli, 1847), no
page numbers.
68 The competitions held respectively at the Academy of St Luke in Rome in 1758, and at
the Brera Academy in Milan in 1816, called for the provision of porticoes. See: Angela
The monumental cemetery 97
Cipriani, Aequa potestas: Le arti in gara a Roma nel Settecento (Rome: De Luca, 2000);
Marco Dezzi Bardeschi, ‘L’architettura dei morti, dai Giacobini all’Unità’, in Gli architetti
del pubblico a Reggio Emilia dal Bolognini al Marcelli: Architettura e urbanistica lungo
la via Emilia, 1770–1870 (Casalecchio di Reno: Grafis, 1990), 271.
69 Bertolaccini, Città e cimiteri, 104.
70 Alfredo Buccaro, Opere pubbliche e tipologie urbane nel Mezzogiorno preunitario (Naples:
Electa, 1992), 148. The value awarded to porticoes was also evidenced in 1879, when a
Venetian Catholic newspaper lamented their absence from a project of the 1860s for the
reconstruction of the cemetery of San Michele: Pier Alvise Zorzi, ‘I bisogni di Venezia
artistica’, Il Veneto Cattolico 159 (1879): no page numbers.
71 Letter of 20 October 1812 (Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione del Buon Governo,
s. III, b. 126).
72 Silva, Dell’arte, 279.
73 Giovio, ‘I Cimiteri’, 245–6.
74 Andrea Vici, ‘Progetto di architettura’, in Memorie enciclopediche romane, sulle belle arti,
antichità, ecc., vol. II, ed. G.A. Guattani (Rome: Salomoni, 1806), 30.
75 Grottanelli De’ Santi, Cenni storici, no page numbers.
76 Grottanelli De’ Santi, Cenni storici, no page numbers.
77 Anon. [Carlo Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, Il Crepuscolo
VII, 15 (13 April 1856), 244.
78 Ariès, The Hour of Our Death, 409–74; Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 229;
Hintermeyer, Politiques de la mort, 13; Stefania Buccini, Sentimento della morte dal
barocco al declino dei lumi (Ravenna: Longo, 2000), 173.
79 Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present
(London: Marion Boyars, 1976), 55–6; The Hour of Our Death, 609–11; for a cautionary
note, see the Introduction and Thomas W. Laqueur, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural
History of Mortal Remains (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 216–17.
80 N. N. [Luigi Lambertenghi], ‘Sull’origine, e sul luogo delle sepolture’, Il Caffè VII, II (1765),
republished in Il Caffè: Ossia, brevi e vari discorsi distribuiti in fogli periodici, ed. Sergio
Romagnoli (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1960); see also Chapter 1.
81 ‘[Funerary] customs are substituting sentiment with appearance[s], virtues with wealth,
merit with the vanity and power of the surviving relatives’, N.N. [Lambertenghi],
‘Sull’origine’, 340.
82 Rastrelli is thus described in Giuseppe Pelli Bencivenni, Efemeridi, 1783, quoted in
Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 22 (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana,
1979), 303; Modesto Rastrelli, Storia de’ riti funebri e delle sepolture antiche e moderne
ed osservazioni sui nuovi Campi Santi, 1784, quoted in Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi, 225.
83 Alessandro Verri, ‘Comentariolo sulla ragione umana’, Il Caffè XXI–XXIII, II (1765),
republished in Il Caffè: Ossia, brevi e vari discorsi distribuiti in fogli periodici, ed. Sergio
Romagnoli (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1960), 453–4.
84 Alessandro Verri, Le notti romane al sepolcro de’ Scipioni (Rome: Pietro Agnelli, 1808).
85 Marinella Ceretti, ‘Alessandro Verri e il problema delle sepolture’, Studi settecenteschi 15
(1995), 267.
86 See Chapter 1.
87 Alessandro Verri, Elegia scritta in Firenze, 1785, republished in Ceretti, ‘Alessandro Verri’,
273.
88 Verri, Elegia, 272.
89 Pietro Verri, ‘Intorno al seppellire i cadaveri’, ?1786, republished in Ceretti, ‘Alessandro
Verri’, 278.
90 Verri, ‘Intorno al seppellire’, 279; see Chapter 1 on the 1784 reform.
91 Grottanelli De’ Santi, Cenni storici, no page numbers.
92 Ferdinando Canonici, Storia e descrizione dell’antica Certosa di Ferrara (Rovigo: A.
Minelli, 1851), 6.
93 Anon. [Francesco Tognetti], Lettere sul grande cimitero di Bologna (location and publisher
unknown, 1802), 19.
94 Anon. [Tognetti], Lettere, 49.
95 See Chapter 1; Annibale Alberti and Roberto Cessi, ed., Verbali delle sedute della
Municipalità provvisoria di Venezia 1797 in series 2, div. 1, section 3 of Atti delle assemblee
98 The monumental cemetery
costituzionali italiane dal Medio Evo al 1831 (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1928), vol. I, 336–7;
Manlio Pastore Stocchi, ‘1793–1797: Ugo Foscolo a Venezia’, in Storia della cultura veneta,
vol. 6, ed. Girolamo Arnaldi and Manlio Pastore Stocchi (Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 1986);
Giovanni Scarabello, ‘Foscolo 1797’, in Dai dogi agli imperatori: La fine della Repubblica
tra storia e mito, ed. Giandomenico Romanelli (Milan: Electa, 1997).
96 Ugo Foscolo, On Sepulchres, ed. J.G. Nichols (Surrey: Oneworld Classics, 2009), 50.
97 Foscolo, On Sepulchres, 54–5.
98 Foscolo, On Sepulchres, 54–5.
99 Foscolo’s poem purportedly attacks the Napoleonic Edict of Saint-Cloud, which was
introduced into Italy in 1806. In fact, that edict banned communal graves and allowed
for the demarcation of individual plots, which suggests that Foscolo’s criticisms were
actually directed at the ‘egalitarian’ burial reforms of the eighteenth century.
100 Ippolito Pindemonte, I ‘Sepolcri’ di Ippolito Pindemonte: Storia dell’elaborazione e testo
critico, ed. Nadia Ebani (Verona: Edizioni Fiorini, 2002), 23; see also: Camillo Antona-
Traversi, La vera storia dei sepolcri di Ugo Foscolo: Con lettere e documenti inediti
(Livorno: Francesco Vigo, 1883), 55–6; Paolo Rigoli, ‘Cimiteri e sepolcri veronesi nella
seconda metà del Settecento’, in Atti e memorie dell’Accademia di agricoltura, scienze e
lettere di Verona, vol. XLIV, n. CLXIX, 1992–1993 (Verona: Fondazione Cassa di
Risparmio di Verona Vicenza Belluno e Ancona, 1995); Tomasi, Per salvare i viventi,
262.
101 Pindemonte, I ‘Sepolcri’, 32.
102 Antona-Traversi, La vera storia, 1883, 9–11; Olga Micale, Thomas Gray e la sua influenza
sulla letteratura italiana (Catania: Studio Editoriale Moderno, 1934); Cooper, ‘“The
Crowning Glory of Pisa”’, 79; Donatella Martinelli, ed., ‘Dei Sepolcri’, in Ugo Foscolo:
Sepolcri, odi, sonetti (Milan: Mondadori, 1987), 128–9; Ceretti, ‘Alessandro Verri’, 257;
Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 141–8.
103 Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 163–4; James Stevens Curl, ‘Young’s Night Thoughts
and the origins of the garden cemetery’, Garden History 14 (Summer 1994), 95–7.
104 Anon. [Tognetti], Lettere, 43. Similarly, in 1734, Voltaire wrote: ‘I am convinced that
the mere view of these glorious monuments [in Westminster Abbey] has inspired more
than one soul and formed more than one great man’ (Voltaire, Lettres philosophiques,
1964, quoted in translation in Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 24).
105 Foscolo, On Sepulchres, 60.
106 Ugo Foscolo, Lettera a Monsieur Guillon su la sua incompetenza a giudicare i poeti italiani,
1806, quoted in Martinelli, ed., Ugo Foscolo, 129.
107 Anne O’Connor, Florence: City and Memory in the Nineteenth Century (Florence: Edizioni
Città di Vita, 2008), 3; Ginsborg, ‘European Romanticism’.
108 Giovio, ‘I Cimiteri’, 243.
109 Giovio, ‘I Cimiteri’, 244.
110 Hintermeyer, Politiques de la mort, 16–17.
111 Luigi Oberty, ‘Cenno sui Campisanti, e sulla loro influenza sulla morale, e sulla
Civilizzazione’, 1818, quoted in Fabio Mangone, ed., Cimiteri napoletani: Storia, arte e
cultura (Naples: Massa, 2004), 63–4.
112 On social change in nineteenth-century Italy, see: Woolf, A History of Italy, 275–88; Paolo
Macry, Raffaele Romanelli and Biagio Salvemini, Le borghesie dell’Ottocento: Fonti,
metodi e modelli per una storia sociale delle élites (Messina: Sicania, 1988); Marco Meriggi,
‘La borghesia italiana’, in Borghesie europee dell’Ottocento, ed. Jürgen Kocka (Venice:
Marsilio Editori, 1989); Adrian Lyttelton, ‘The middle classes in Liberal Italy’, in Society
and Politics in the Age of the Risorgimento, ed. John A. Davis and Paul Ginsborg
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Raffaele Romanelli, ‘Political Debate,
Social History and the Italian Borghesia: Changing Perspectives in Historical Research’,
Journal of Modern History 63, 4 (1994); Alberto Mario Banti, Storia della borghesia
italiana (Rome: Donzelli, 1996); Riall, Risorgimento, 77–85.
113 Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 286.
114 Franco Bertoni, Giuseppe Pistocchi: Inventario dei disegni e annessioni al catalogo delle
Opere (Faenza: Assessorato alla cultura, 1979), 52; Angela Cipriani, Gian Paolo Consoli
and Susanna Pasquali, ed., Contro il Barocco: Apprendistato a Roma e pratica
dell’architettura civile in Italia 1780–1820 (Rome: Campisano, 2007), 539; Emanuela
The monumental cemetery 99
Bagattoni, La cultura architettonica faentina tra Antico Regime e Impero (Cesena: Il Ponte
Vecchio, 2008), 210. See also Renato De Fusco, L’architettura dell’Ottocento (Turin:
Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1980), 23–5; Colvin, Architecture and the After-
Life, 332–3.
115 Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale dell’Arciginnasio, Gabinetto dei disegni e delle stampe, cart.
13, n. 3.
116 Silva, Dell’arte, 277.
117 Silva, Dell’arte, 278.
118 On the importance of the family in middle-class culture, see: Ariès, The Hour of Our
Death, 609–10; Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere:
An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989), 43–51.
119 Milan, Archivio Civico, Camillo Boito, ‘Rapporto della Commissione aggiudicatrice dei
premi ai progetti pei due cimiteri’, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 4 July 1862 (straordinaria),
n. XCV, 225.
120 Letter of 3 March 1813 from Guy de Gisors to the Prefect Camille de Tournon, quoted
in Laura Bertolaccini, ‘I cimiteri a Roma nel periodo napoleonico’, in L’Architettura della
memoria, 124.
121 Venice, Archivio Storico Civico, 1829, Cimitero II, n. 19718, ‘Relazione dell’ingegnere
Giuseppe Malvolti’, 24 October 1828.
122 Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali, Sanità, b. 1153, ‘Relazione dell’Ingegnere
Architetto Dott. Andrea Scala sopra i progetti di concorso pel Cimitero di Padova’.
123 Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 309.
124 Venice, Archivio Storico Civico, 1840–44, IV Sanità, 2/26, ‘Dimostrazione del progetto
pel Cimitero Comunale della R. Città di Venezia portante L’epigrafe “Risorgeremo!”’,
31 October 1843.
125 Buccaro, Opere pubbliche, 168 and ‘Il dibattito europeo e i campisanti napoletani tra
Sette e Ottocento’, in Cimiteri Napoletani: Storia, arte e cultura, ed. Fabio Mangone
(Naples: Massa, 2004), 74; Ornella Selvafolta, ‘“Dopo l’editto”: Il modello di Père-
Lachaise ed i cimiteri italiani dell’Ottocento’, in All’ombra dei cipressi e dentro l’urne,
ed. Daniela Camurri (Bologna: Bonomia University Press, 2004), 78. At the cemetery of
Père-Lachaise in Paris, detached chapels appeared as early as 1815: Ariès, The Hour of
Our Death, 536. See: Paolo Macry, ‘Borghesie, città e stato: appunti e impressioni su
Napoli 1860–80’, Quaderni Storici 56/a, XIX, 2 (August 1984), 342–9 (on the social
structures of nineteenth-century Naples); Francesco Pezzini, ‘Disciplina della sepoltura e
rappresentazione della morte nella Napoli preunitaria’ (PhD diss., Scuola Normale Pisa,
2008), 72–83 (on the cemetery of Poggioreale).
126 Emanuela Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo di rappresentanza nella Bologna di primo Ottocento’, in
La Certosa di Bologna: Immortalità della memoria, ed. Giovanna Pesci (Bologna: Editrice
Compositori, 1998), 123; Sandra Berresford et al., Italian Memorial Sculpture 1820–1940:
A Legacy of Love (London: Frances Lincoln, 2004), 62.
127 Axel Körner, Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy: From Unification to Fascism (London:
Routledge, 2009), 43. In 1861, the bourgeoisie constituted roughly 1.8 per cent of the
Italian population (Romanelli, ‘Political Debate’, 723).
128 Benedetto Croce, ‘Di un equivoco concetto storico: La borghesia’, in Etica e politica (Bari:
Laterza, 1931), 372; Meriggi, ‘La borghesia’, 169; Romanelli, ‘Political Debate’, 730;
Stefano Sepe, ‘Amministrazione e “nazionalizzazione”: Il ruolo della burocrazia statale
nella costruzione dello Stato unitario (1861–1900)’, in Dalla città alla nazione: Borghesie
ottocentesche in Italia e in Germania, ed. Marco Meriggi and Pierangelo Schiera (Bologna:
il Mulino, 1993); Federico Faloppa, ‘La borghesia: Complessità di un’immagine, excursus
storico-lessicale sulla borghesia italiana dopo l’Unità’, in La borghesia allo specchio: Il
culto dell’immagine dal 1860 al 1920, ed. Annie-Paule Quinsac (Cinisello Balsamo:
Silvana, 2004).
129 Körner, Politics of Culture, 14–18, 43–4.
130 Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 288–93.
131 Partecipazio [Giovanni Minuto], Staglieno: Guida del visitatore (Genoa: Tipografia dei
Sordo-muti, 1883). The yearly wages of a textile worker in 1890 are estimated at 302
lira: Vera Zamagni, Dalla periferia al centro: La seconda rinascita economica dell’Italia,
1861–1981 (Bologna: Mulino, 1990), 256.
100 The monumental cemetery
132 Gabriella Cianciolo Cosentino, ‘Il Gran Camposanto di Messina’, in L’Architettura della
memoria, 221–5.
133 Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, 360.
134 Ercole Gasparini, Progetto di unire i portici di San Luca colle loggie del cimitero comunale
di Bologna (Bologna: Sassi, 1811); see also: Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale
dell’Arciginnasio, Gabinetto dei disegni e delle stampe, cart. 2, n. 409–10 and 542–9;
Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Carteggio amministrativo, 1811, titolo XV,
rubrica 2.
135 Raffaele Romanelli, L’Italia liberale: 1861–1900 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1990), 163–9; Beales
and Biagini, The Risorgimento, 163–5.
136 Jacques Le Goff, History and Memory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992),
315.
137 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Contratti con privati, n. 6, 1889.
138 Visceglia, Il bisogno di eternità, 600–1.
139 A Via (degli) Orefici exists in Milan, Genoa, Brescia, Bologna, Mantua, Savona and other
minor Italian cities; see also Carla Giovannini, ‘La città dei professionisti’, in Storia d’Italia,
vol. 10 of Annali, ed. Maria Malatesta (Turin: Einaudi, 1996).
140 On the role of professions in Italian society, see: Meriggi, ‘La borghesia’, 164; Maria
Malatesta, ‘Gli ordini professionali e la nazionalizzazione in Italia’, in Dalla città; for
unrealised plans to build areas for specific professions within cemeteries, see: Berresford
et al., Italian Memorial Sculpture, 44.
141 Caroline Walker Bynum, ‘Introduction’, in Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of
Symbols, ed. Caroline Walker Bynum, Stevan Harrell and Paula Richman (Boston, MA:
Beacon Press, 1986), 15–16.
142 Franco Sborgi, ‘Il cimitero di Staglieno come “museo” della scultura in Liguria’, in Dal
seicento al primo novecento, vol. 2 of La scultura a Genova e in Liguria (Genoa:
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Genova e Imperia, 1988), 355–65, Staglieno e la scultura
funeraria ligure tra Ottocento e Novecento (Turin: Artema, 1997), 130–66 and ‘Immagini
della modernità nella scultura funeraria fra Ottocento e Novecento’, in Il presente si fa
storia: Scritti in onore di Luciano Caramel, ed. Cecilia de Carli and Francesco Tedeschi
(Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2008); Berresford et al., Italian Memorial Sculpture, 60–8.
143 Romanelli, ‘Political Debate’, 719.
144 Annie-Paule Quinsac, ‘Il culto delle immagini: Gli artisti italiani e la rappresentazione
della borghesia europea’, in La borghesia allo specchio, 22–3. On connections with
bourgeois realist sculpture, see: Sborgi, Staglieno, 134.
145 Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900 (London: Belknap Press of Harvard
University Press, 2006), 86–92.
146 Sborgi, ‘Immagini’, 45–6; see also: Luisa Tasca, Galatei: Buone maniere e cultura borghese
nell’Italia dell’Ottocento (Florence: Le Lettere, 2004), 16.
147 Meriggi, ‘La borghesia’, 176–7; Romanelli, L’Italia liberale, 285–305, 338–54; Duggan,
The Force of Destiny, 338–49; Körner, Politics of Culture, 125–7.
148 Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), 15.
149 Michel Foucault, ‘Of Other Spaces’, republished in Heterotopia and the City: Public Space
in a Postcivil Society, ed. Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter (New York: Routledge,
2008), 18–19. See also: Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic (London: Tavistock,
1976), 3–21, 140–8.
150 Buccaro, Opere pubbliche, 138.
151 Rome, Archivio di Stato, Segreteria per gli Affari di Stato Interni, Sanità, b. 1071, quoted
in Bertolaccini, Città e cimiteri, 104.
152 Milan, Archivio Civico, 25 July 1860, Tenca, 179–80.
153 Silvano Tintori, Piano e pianificatori dall’età napoleonica al fascismo: Per una storia del
piano regolatore nella città italiana contemporanea (Milan: Franco Angeli, 1985), 91;
Renato Rozzi, ed., La Milano del Piano Beruto (1884–1889): Società, urbanistica e
architettura nella seconda metà dell’Ottocento, vol. 1 (Milan: Guerini, 1992). On the
Musocco: Enrico Brotti and Luigi Mazzocchi, Progetto di un nuovo cimitero per la città
di Milano (Milan: Manini, 1882).
The monumental cemetery 101
154 Sborgi, Staglieno, 34–5.
155 Montenovesi, Il campo santo, 26–40.
156 Maurice Halbwachs, La mémoire collective (Paris: Éditions Albin Michel, 1997), 183–236;
Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,
2002). On mnemonics based in space, see: Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966); Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of
Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
157 Aldo Rossi, L’architettura della città (Milan: Clup, 1987), 191.
158 Pierre Nora, ed., Les Lieux de Mémoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1984–1992); Mario Isnenghi,
ed., I luoghi della memoria (Rome: Laterza, 1996–1997).
159 Gazzetta di Genova, 4 November 1869, quoted in Sborgi, Staglieno, 61.
160 Henry Fouquier, ‘Le jour des morts’, Le Figaro, 2 November 1886, quoted in Sborgi,
Staglieno, 61.
161 Racanella, ‘Il Cimitero’, Il Crepuscolo, n. 4, 8 December 1877, quoted in Sborgi, Staglieno,
70.
162 On the perpetuation of collective memories through rituals, see: Paul Connerton, How
Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
163 Canonici, Storia; Andreasi, Cenno.
164 Selvatico, Sul futuro cimitero.
165 Antonio Boucher, ‘Sulla pianta del proposto Campo Santo di Milano’, Il Politecnico III,
17 (1841).
166 Giuseppe Barbieri, Cimitero della regia città di Verona (Verona: Tipografia di Paolo
Libanti, 1833).
167 Sborgi, Staglieno, 65. See also Giuseppe Monesi, ‘Dì dei morti’, Il Gazzettino: Giornale
della democrazia veneta (1 November 1887).
168 Anon., Giornale a comodo di quelli che frequentano il Cimitero di Bologna e la sua chiesa
(1821) and anon., La Certosa di Bologna, ora cimitero monumentale (1828), quoted in
Andrea Morpurgo, ‘Topographies of memory: The Certosa Cemetery of Bologna a case
study from the 19th and 20th centuries’, in Der Bürgerliche Tod, ed. Claudia Denk and
John Ziesemer (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2007); Angelo Gatti, Guida al cimitero
di Bologna (Bologna: L. Andreoli, 1890); for a comparison with Genoa, see: A.G.
Ravaschio, Memorie sul Camposanto della città di Genova: Aperto a Staglieno colla
descrizione dei migliori monumenti eretti a tutto l’anno 1864 (Genoa: Tipografia dei Sordo-
muti, 1864); Partecipazio [Minuto], Staglieno.
169 Giovanni Zecchi, Descrizione della Certosa di Bologna ora Cimitero Comunale (Bologna:
Giovanni Zecchi, 1825–1828).
170 Zecchi, Descrizione, I.
171 Davide Chiossone, ‘Belle Arti. Monumento di Sebastiano Balduino’, Gazzetta di Genova,
30 October 1858, quoted in Sborgi, Staglieno, 34.
172 Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo’, 124.
173 Both Monti’s and Stern’s designs embody a top-lit gallery with a barrel vault and shallow
coffers decorated with flowers. In both projects, statuary and columns line the walls and
an oculus-pierced dome acts as a centrepiece; see Cristina Rocchetta, ‘Il lessico’, in La
Certosa di Bologna, 167; Antonella Ranaldi, ‘Laboratorio di restauro. Necropolis, la città
ideale della memoria’, in All’ombra dei cipressi, 317. On Stern’s braccio nuovo, see: Emilio
Lavagnino, L’arte moderna dai neoclassici ai contemporanei (Turin: Unione Tipografico-
Editrice Torinese, 1961), 57; Carroll L.V. Meeks, Italian Architecture: 1750–1914
(London: Yale University Press, 1966), 74; De Fusco, L’architettura, 35–8.
174 On the cultural role of nineteenth-century Italian museums, see: Körner, Politics of
Culture, 95–7.
175 Milan, Archivio Civico, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, n. XCV, 4 July 1862, Camillo Boito,
‘Rapporto della Commissione aggiudicatrice dei premi ai progetti pei due cimiteri’, 221.
176 Letter of 22 January 1815, quoted in Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo’, 123. See also Antonella
Mampieri, ‘Il ruolo dell’Accademia di Belle Arti nella costituzione del cimitero
monumentale della Certosa a Bologna’, in All’ombra dei cipressi e dentro l’urne, ed. Daniela
Camurri (Bologna: Bonomia University Press, 2002).
177 Tatti, Il Camposanto, 9.
102 The monumental cemetery
178 Luigi Sacchi, Intorno al progetto di un cimitero per la città di Milano (Milan: Arcivescovile,
1856), 1.
179 Milan, Archivio Civico, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 25 July 1860 (straordinaria),
LXXXIV, Carlo Tenca, ‘Cimitero monumentale’, 180. In the same year, an anonymous
author stressed the necessity for Rome to have a civic cemetery that matched its size and
grandeur: F.C. [?], Le scienze e le arti sotto il pontificato di Pio IX (Rome: Belle Arti,
1860), 130.
180 Maria Malatesta, ‘Il caffè e l’osteria’, in I luoghi della memoria: Strutture ed eventi
dell’Italia unita, ed. Mario Isnenghi (Rome: Laterza, 1997), 56–66.
181 Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 396; De Fusco, L’architettura, 103; Terry Kirk, The Challenge
of Tradition, vol. 1 of The Architecture of Modern Italy (New York: Princeton
Architectural Press, 2005), 134.
182 Alberto Mario Banti, La nazione del Risorgimento: Parentela, santità, e onore alle origini
dell’Italia unita (Turin: Giulio Einaudi editore, 2000), 45; Carlotta Sorba, ‘Il Risorgimento
in musica: L’opera lirica nei teatri del 1848’, in Immagini della nazione nell’Italia del
Risorgimento, ed. Alberto Mario Banti and Roberto Bizzocchi (Rome: Carocci, 2002),
142–51; Alexandra Wilson, The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism and Modernity
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 11–14; Körner, Politics of Culture,
45–65 and ‘Opera and Nation in Nineteenth-Century Italy: Conceptual and
Methodological Approaches’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 17, 4 (2012); Simonetta
Chiappini, ‘From the people to the masses: Political developments in Italian opera from
Rossini to Mascagni’, in The Risorgimento Revisited.
183 See https://youtu.be/Uc9fCcrFEa0 and Gavin Williams, ‘Orating Verdi: Death and the
media c. 1901’, Cambridge Opera Journal 23, 3 (November 2011).
184 Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 154–5.
185 Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 143; Körner, Politics of Culture, 56.
186 Mario Isnenghi, ‘La piazza’, in I luoghi della memoria; Roberto Bianchi, ‘Il ritorno della
piazza. Per una storia dell’uso politico degli spazi pubblici tra otto e novecento’, Zapruder
1 (2003); Mario Isnenghi, L’Italia in piazza: I luoghi della vita pubblica dal 1848 ai giorni
nostri (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004), 45–6, 51–94; Eamonn Canniffe, The Politics of the
Piazza: The History and Meaning of the Italian Square (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008),
169–83.
187 Bruno Tobia, Una patria per gli italiani: Spazi, itinerari, monumenti nell’Italia unita
(1870–1900) (Rome: Laterza, 1991), 95–6; Bianchi, ‘Il ritorno’, 46–7; Umberto Levra,
‘Vittorio Emanuele II’, in I luoghi della memoria: Personaggi e date dell’Italia unita, ed.
Mario Isnenghi (Rome: Laterza, 1997), 61–4; Körner, Politics of Culture, 179–82, 184–5.
188 Cristina della Coletta, World’s Fairs Italian style: The Great Exhibitions in Turin and
Their Narratives, 1860–1915 (London: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 3–14 and
‘Exposition Narratives and the Italian Bourgeoisie: Edmondo De Amicis’s Torino 1880’,
in Italy and the Bourgeoisie.
189 Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 538–9; Tobia, Una patria, 67–89; della Coletta, World’s Fairs,
15–78.
190 della Coletta, World’s Fairs, 52.
191 Woolf, A History of Italy, 283–92; Alberto Caracciolo, ‘Some examples of analysing the
process of urbanization: Northern Italy (eighteenth to twentieth century)’, in Patterns of
European Urbanisation since 1500, ed. Henk Schmal (London: Croom Helm, 1981).
192 Teofilo Ossian De Negri, Storia di Genova (Milan: A. Martello, 1968), 784.
193 C.G. [?], ‘Sullo stile dei cimiteri’, Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (June
1856), 648.
194 Bologna, Biblioteca Comunale dell’Arciginnasio, Gabinetto dei disegni e delle stampe, cart.
2, n. 542–9; Gasparini, Progetto; Carlo De Angelis, ‘Genesi e trasformazioni nel secolo
XIX’, in La Certosa di Bologna, 171.
195 Jules Janin, Voyage in Italie, 1839, quoted in Daniela Camurri, ‘Il tema del cimitero come
soggetto letterario nella Bologna dell’Ottocento’, in All’ombra dei cipressi, 299.
196 Illustrations can be found in: Margaret Plant, Venice: Fragile City, 1797–1997 (London:
Yale University Press, 2002), 203; Heirs to Canaletto: Fabio Mauroner and Emanuale
Brugnoli, 1905–1940 (Washington, DC: Embassy of Italy, 2011), 3.
The monumental cemetery 103
197 Donatella Calabi, ‘The genesis and special characteristics of town-planning instruments
in Italy, 1880–1914’, in The Rise of Modern Urban Planning 1800–1914, ed. Anthony
Sutcliffe (London: Mansell, 1980); Caracciolo, ‘Some examples’; Tintori, Piano e
pianificatori; Tobia, Una patria per gli italiani, 28–67; Corinna Morandi, ‘Italian town
planning in the later nineteenth century: the Milanese example’, Planning Perspectives 7
(1992); Guido Montanari, ‘Ampliamenti urbani e architettura nella Torino postunitaria’,
Bollettino della Società piemontese di Archeologia e Belle Arti XVVII (1995).
198 Wolfgang Braunfels, Urban Design in Western Europe: Regime and Architecture,
900–1900 (London: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 1–10; Körner, Politics of Culture,
107–8.
199 See Chapter 4 and De Fusco, L’architettura, 192–7; Tintori, Piano e pianificatori, 67–73;
Rozzi, La Milano.
200 On the Corso Maria Teresa and its architect Errico Alvino (1809–1872), see: Lavagnino,
L’arte moderna, 644; Giuseppe Bruno and Renato De Fusco, Errico Alvino: Architetto e
urbanista napoletano dell’800 (Naples: L’Arte tipografica, 1962), 18–20. For Giuseppe
Poggi’s (1811–1901) Stradone dei Colli, see: Franco Borsi, La capitale a Firenze e l’opera
di G. Poggi (Rome: Colombo, 1970), 84–9; De Fusco, L’architettura, 181–5; Tintori,
Piano e pianificatori, 135–7.
3 Death and Risorgimento
The politics of Italian funerary
architecture

Within nineteenth-century Italy, cemeteries were invested with considerable political


significance. They came to act as vehicles of political exchange, and expressed the
patriotic forces that bound cities and their communities into an emergent nation. In
fact, politics had a greater influence than either religion or attitudes to death on the
development of Italian funerary architecture, and the degree of attention awarded to
Italy’s monumental cemeteries testified to their political importance with respect
to the city and society. As highlighted in the previous chapter, the predominance of
meanings associated with the bourgeois family signalled the power wielded by the
middle classes within Italy’s changing cities. In addition, for the local community,
the significance of the cemetery was enhanced by forces that related to regional and
national politics. The fact that patriotic sentiments were a key characteristic of Italian
bourgeois culture meant that the construction of monumental cemeteries responded
to both the emergence of the middle classes and to the politics of the Risorgimento.
As a space that combined different private and public interests, the Italian cemetery
was a communal arena within which national, civic and social imperatives were ex-
pressed, discussed and negotiated. In that sense, the monumental cemetery functioned
as an element of a public sphere, which was later defined by Jürgen Habermas (born
1929) as a ‘tension-charged field’ that emerged between society and the state in the
1700s.1 In this chapter, the interaction of various political imperatives is examined
with regards to their influence on the architecture and planning of Italy’s monumental
cemeteries.

Instability and fragmentation


The political contexts within which Italy’s new cemeteries were created can be broadly
defined in terms of the initial influences exerted by foreign powers and the gradual
evolution of a particular definition of national unity that blended local sentiments
with elements of an emergent nationalism. Regime change, and Italy’s eventual
unification, brought momentous shifts in Italian society and politics – albeit that change
was offset by the persistence of local traditions and entrenched privileges. The political
and ideological structures that underpinned the redistribution of power were mirrored
in funerary architecture and its development over the course of the nineteenth century.
Italian cemeteries gained political significance as projects that reflected both changes
in leadership and an underlying instability that was widespread during the 1800s. For
example, in Padua, the construction of a new burial ground was thwarted by ‘the
unusually turbulent times’ of the First and Second Wars of Independence (1848–1849
Death and Risorgimento 105
and 1859, respectively) and again by the Third War of Independence in 1866.2
Conflict also impeded the redevelopment of the cemetery of San Michele in Venice in
1859, as the period allotted to a competition for that project was extended due to
‘the difficult times’.3 Moreover, as cemeteries were often built as a mark of civic
improvement, they were subsequently tied to the political fortunes of the regime
responsible for their initiation. A municipal document of 1811 associates the
embellishment of the Certosa cemetery in Bologna (opened in 1801) with proposals
for a portico that ‘would remind [posterity] of what the citizens of Bologna could
achieve under Napoleon the Great’.4 Three years later, the end of the Napoleonic
regime in Italy resulted in a temporary suspension of that project, which was later
completed to altered designs.
Given the political uncertainties of nineteenth-century Italy, the opportunity to create
a public cemetery offered authorities a means to establish a monument to their power,
and to assert themselves and their cities as social, economic and political entities. The
relationship between ambition and instability was evidenced when the Napoleonic
administration established the Verano cemetery in Rome in 1811; that is, shortly before
the withdrawal of the French in 1814. A letter written in Rome around 1811 argued
that to build the new cemetery with poor-quality stone would be ‘contrary to the
Magnanimous heart of Our Great Sovereign Napoleon, who is not only dedicated to
benefiting his subjects, but also to protecting the sciences and arts’.5 In fact, the Verano
cemetery was largely completed by the restored papal government after 1838. A
pamphlet promoting the reign of Pope Pius IX (ruled 1846–1878) concedes that the
burial ground dates ‘from the time of the French administration’, but the author
is eager to emphasise that its completion was ‘principally due to the good sense and
piety of the Pope Gregory XVI’ (served 1831–1846) and ‘the munificence of the
glorious sovereign Pope Pius IX’.6 It was also the case that negligence regarding the
development of cemeteries could have negative political consequences. For instance,
in 1802, after the Austrians regained Venetia from the French, a letter addressed to
the Austrian government denounced that the French had destroyed the walls of the
cemetery in Vicenza, which was therefore ‘open to the entrance of men, animals, and
in particular to pigs and dogs that go there freely to unearth buried bones’.7 Equally,
after the liberation of Venetia from the Austrians in 1866, a local writer saw the
construction of a monumental cemetery as a civic duty that ‘Venice must fulfil now
that it is redeemed and free’.8
Unification did little to resolve the climate of political uncertainty. As Italy had
been divided since the fifth century, the creation of a nation state involved the
absorption of previously sovereign states, and regions with different cultural and
political identities. The new state was hampered by a lack of political legitimacy,
divergent visions of nationhood and the absence of shared political traditions.9 Hence,
the establishment of the new Italy went together with a need to forge new Italians,
or to create a nation with a common sense of history, memory and identity. Given
that the task of the Risorgimento was not only to liberate Italy, but also to unite
different peoples under a common will, cemeteries acted as key pedagogical instruments
in the project to nationalise the Italian population. However, traditionally, the Italians
were bonded to the family, to the city or village and its region, to the Church, and
finally perhaps to the nation, rather than to the formal institutions of the state. Those
different loyalties resulted in tensions that were mirrored in the architecture of Italy’s
nineteenth-century cemeteries. On one hand, that architecture was used to spread an
106 Death and Risorgimento
idea of nationhood, which was fuelled by the patriotic and liberal movements of the
Risorgimento. On the other, it expressed the state of a nation that was deeply divided
into a patchwork of regions with distinctive cultural and architectural identities. Thus,
the monumental cemeteries reflected both the unifying forces of nationalism and a
long-standing tradition of local patriotism, or campanilismo, which was deeply
entrenched in Italian communities.10

Divided loyalties: local patriotism


Italy’s new monumental cemeteries were instrumental in the rivalry between major
cities that were caught up in the politics of unification, industrialisation, and evolving
patterns of economic and political development, which forced new distinctions between
different regions, and particularly between the north and the south.11 The strength of
local pride, or what the French writer Henri Stendhal described as ‘patriotisme
d’antichambre’, created competitiveness between cities and regions, rural and urban
areas, and the provinces and the state.12 The period between Italian unification and
the Great War, or between 1860 and 1915, was dominated by municipalismo, or the
phenomenon whereby local forces and municipal powers resisted the pressures for
centralisation exerted by the national government.13 Occupation and annexation
meant that major cities, which had been the capitals of states, were downgraded to
the status of provincial centres. For example, Milan, which had been a capital and
major administrative hub under the French and Austrian regimes, became a provincial
city following unification. In Italia delle cento città (Italy of the hundred cities), intra-
urban rivalry and municipal ambitions could colour the administration of major cities
and their dealings with the state. Equally, minor cities might seek to evade the power
of a regional capital. As cities struggled for recognition within a shifting political and
economic landscape, funerary architecture offered local interests a chance to assert
their authority and status through the creation of imposing cemeteries clad, at least
in part, in local architectural styles. Evidence of campanilismo, or local pride, is found
in a comment of 1858 by the Genoese playwright Davide Chiossone (1820–1873),
who wrote of his local cemetery: ‘I have no doubt that when completed, this will rival
the much praised cemeteries at Brescia and Bologna, or rather, given its topographical
position, it will be greatly superior’.14 Similarly, in Milan in 1895, the architect Luca
Beltrami (1854–1933) argued, apparently ‘without campanilismo’, that ‘we must admit
that our Monumental Cemetery is one of the most beautiful . . . in Italy’.15 In terms
of secondary cities, in his description of the Bonaria cemetery in Cagliari, the Sardinian
archaeologist Giovanni Spano (1803–1878) suggested that ‘whereas it may not equal
those of the main cities of the Italian peninsula, it compares favourably to cemeteries
of second ranking’ (Catalogue 3).16
That cemeteries offered a benchmark by which cities might be ranked is suggested
by a municipal document written in Perugia in 1873, which affirms that the
monumental cemeteries of Bologna, Ferrara and Pavia ‘attest to the power of those
cities’.17 Thus, as one observer noted in 1860: ‘there was a noble race between major
[Italian] cities to build public cemeteries that lived up to the magnificence, size, and
fame of their locations’.18 The local council of Brescia announced in 1840 that ‘our
native city is pleased to have been the first in Lombardy to have undertaken the
construction of a cemetery’ – a duty that is described as ‘deserving the admiration of
strangers and granting honour to our dear fatherland’.19 Similarly, for the architect
Death and Risorgimento 107
Luigi Tatti, it was a matter of civic pride that the monumental cemetery of his native
Como preceded that of Milan, the regional capital.20 In contrast, the opening of a
cemetery in nearby Verona in 1850 led Venetians to complain that a provincial city
had upstaged Venice as the region’s capital.21 In a flattering biography written by his
sons, the architect Luigi Voghera (1788–1840) is said to have been ‘driven by a desire
to show off his birthplace’ when, in 1821, he volunteered to design the cemetery of
his native city of Cremona (Catalogue 6).22 With regard to the completion of its new
cemetery, that text also states that the city of Cremona ‘will be satisfied to have . . .
reached an aim that until now few cities of Italy have achieved’.23 In contrast, for the
clergyman Luigi Bonisio, the fact that Pavia lacked a cemetery of sufficient size in the
1840s ‘whilst all cities of Italy, including the smallest villages, were competing to build
cemeteries’ meant that Pavia was open to the reproach ‘of being greatly inferior in
this task’.24 Rivalry among cities also stimulated artistry as demonstrated in 1857,
when a project to embellish Padua cemetery was seen to ‘provide our city with an
artistic monument to show that it is not inferior to other cities’.25 Cemeteries were
not the only instruments of municipal rivalry, as other public buildings such as
cathedrals, town halls, railway stations and opera houses were awarded similar
attention.26 The importance of civic institutions for the region or city was also under-
lined by the cost of their construction, as evidenced by the considerable sums invested
by municipal councils in new burial grounds. Private citizens were also moved to
contribute; for example, in Pavia in the late 1850s, where private donations in favour
of the new municipal cemetery were said to be motivated by ‘generous patriotism’.27
Equally, civic loyalty might underpin the appointment of a local or municipal architect,
or a professor of architecture at a local academy, and provincial towns might look
to architects who had trained in the regional capital.

Nationalism and the state


Whereas some of the meanings embodied in the new monumental cemeteries were
implanted by cities and local communities, others sprang directly from the nature of
the state. The new burial grounds mirrored the complexities and tensions inherent in
a developing political structure that reflected the passing of an older social order and
the emergence of a nation state. To some extent, the monumental cemeteries also
represented Italy in an era of European nationalism and international rivalry. They
were instruments of a rising national consciousness for which the state sought recog-
nition abroad. A document drawn up by the municipal council of Modena in 1855
describes how the need for new burial grounds ‘was felt strongly all over Italy and
also abroad, and a . . . spirit of emulation developed among the people [of different
nations]’, which was expressed ‘in the lavish display of architectural decoration within
cemeteries’.28 As early as 1811, a project for the embellishment of the cemetery of
Bologna was said to be an opportunity to create ‘a monument . . . without equals in
. . . the rest of Europe’.29 In fact, in 1823, a visitor to the cemetery at Bologna described
it as ‘Italy’s pride’ and ‘the most magnificent . . . in Europe’.30 Again in 1835, it was
asserted that the splendours of the French Père-Lachaise ‘do not stand up to what the
Italian genius has created at the cemetery in Bologna’.31 Similarly, a pamphlet of 1855
stated that development of the Certosa cemetery in Ferrara would allow it to compete
for superiority with the most sumptuous in Europe.32
108 Death and Risorgimento
It is significant that commentators placed their local cemetery above European
counterparts, and that nationalist sentiments and international rivalry existed alongside
countervailing municipal ambitions. In that respect, Italian cemeteries provide an
insight into the complex, layered and somewhat contradictory political conditions that
characterised the emergent nation state. However, it is also important that national
and local patriotism could act as complementary forces.33 During the Risorgimento,
local pride did not hinder the emergence of national sentiments, and after unification
it facilitated the formation of local identities through which Italians could access a
sense of a national belonging. As an established Italian tradition, local patriotism acted
as a gateway to nationalism; that is, as an identity that might colour local knowledge
of, and an attachment to, the nation. Italian nationalists spoke the language of
local patriotism, and an Italian national consciousness was forged by means of local
identities that were, in turn, remodelled in relation to united Italy. Given the Janus-
faced nature of local patriotism, pride in a local cemetery could be compatible with
a sense of attachment to Italy. Writing in 1851, the architect of the cemetery at Ferrara,
Ferdinando Canonici, described the construction of modern cemeteries as a unifying
force that was ‘truly useful’ because it enhanced both ‘the decorum of the local city
[patria] and of the entire nation’.34 Canonici noted that the homogenisation of burial
legislation throughout the Italian peninsula was precipitated by the Napoleonic
Kingdom of Italy (1805–1814), which he saw as anticipating the creation of the nation
state. Although Canonici’s remark may have been prompted by his efforts to promote
his project for the new cemetery at Ferrara, it reflected a belief in the nation-building
capacities of Italy’s monumental cemeteries. It is also clear that, in Canonici’s mind,
the nation’s prestige was tied to that of the city, or rather that Italy’s aggrandisement
followed from the enhancement of the city. In that respect, it is important not to
exaggerate the impact of nationalism in the creation of Italy’s monumental cemeteries,
nor to overlook the importance of local conditions.
That is particularly true given the discordant relationships between northern and
southern Italy as regions that, both before and after unification, constituted significantly
different political and socio-economic contexts. Whereas, in the north, the
Risorgimento was largely portrayed as the liberation of Italy from foreign oppression,
in the south, unification under the Savoy king marked, for many, the beginning of a
period of domination by external powers centred in Piedmont.35 Italy’s monumental
cemeteries were located predominantly in the north and centre of the peninsula. In
the Meridione, or south, as in the Italian islands, the creation of large and richly
embellished cemeteries may have been hampered by lack of funds, a relatively
conservative social order, the persistence of established burial traditions, the power
of the Church and, in some cities, the scarcity of an urban bourgeoisie.36 In addition,
the limited penetration of a liberal patriotic culture in those regions meant that
nationalism was less likely to act as a generator of monumentality. However, the
division between north and south was subject to major exceptions, notably in the
form of the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples (1813), the Sardinian burial ground of
Bonaria in Cagliari (1827) and the Gran Camposanto in the Sicilian city of Messina
(1865). Those exceptions show how the internal diversity of southern Italy undermines
the idea of a north–south dichotomy. They also illustrate how the format of the
monumental cemetery might be adapted to suit local contexts. For instance, in Naples,
the development of the Poggioreale resulted partly from the power of local
confraternities, or religious organisations comprised of laymen, which were charged
Death and Risorgimento 109
with the administration of funerary rituals and the construction of edicole, or free-
standing chapels.37 The cemetery’s large, multistoreyed edicole, many of which
were built under the aegis of confraternities, have few parallels elsewhere in Italy (see
Figure 2.14).
In Messina, the construction of the Gran Camposanto (1865–1872), a cemetery of
remarkable grandeur, was partly due to rivalry with Sicily’s regional capital, Palermo.38
The municipality of Messina spent around 900,000 lira on the creation of its cemetery
– a notable sum considering that, as late as 1904, the daily wage of an unskilled worker
in Messina ranged from 50 cents to 1 lira.39 Although a small portion of the cost was
recovered through the sale of private plots, the cemetery at Messina represented a
significant outlay on the part of the local council. That cost may be principally
attributed to a level of artistry that was meant to indicate the power and status of the
municipality and of the city’s bourgeoisie. Similarly, the successful development of
the Bonaria cemetery in Cagliari was due largely to investment drawn from an
assertive urban bourgeoisie that migrated to Sardinia from the peninsula.40 In general,
the geographical distribution of Italy’s monumental cemeteries, and the specific
conditions associated with the small number of large burial grounds that were built
in the south and the islands, suggest that the ‘monumental urge’ in funerary architecture
was not evenly distributed across the nation.
Despite inter-city rivalry, there is also evidence that some local authorities sought
advice from other municipalities. In 1858, the authorities at Padua looked to the city
councils of Verona, Vicenza and Brescia regarding the arrangement of the main
buildings in Padua’s new cemetery, and the potential to fund its development through
the sale of plots.41 The authorities in Padua approached those cities because they
recognised ‘the celebrity enjoyed by their cemeteries’.42 Further enquiries were sent
from Padua to Cremona in 1865; that is when Padua was under Austrian dominion,
but Cremona had been liberated in the Second War of Independence of 1859. The
Mayor of Padua contacted the mayor of Cremona secretly by means of a personal
letter because, as explained in a draft of that letter, ‘official correspondence with any
authorities of the Italian Kingdom’ was no longer permitted under current legislation.43
Similarly, in 1873, the comune of Pavia sought advice regarding a proposed cemetery
from the municipalities of Milan, Turin, Genoa, Ferrara and Bologna as major cities
of a newly united Italy.44 In those cases, the search for models was limited to
neighbouring regions in northern Italy. By contrast, in Messina, the architect of the
civic cemetery (designed in 1854) was eager to associate his project with monumental
cemeteries across the breadth of Italy, including Naples, Bologna, Brescia, Rome and
Genoa.45
Generally, however, it is interesting that imitative tendencies were maintained
within regional boundaries, with innovations spreading from provincial centres to
secondary or minor cities. For instance, the monumental Vantiniano cemetery
in Brescia (begun in 1815) was the model for burial grounds in towns and villages
within its province, including Rovato, Salò, Travigliato, Ovanengo, Padenghe and
Prealboino.46 Moreover, an undated sketch (ca. 1826) by the architect Giuseppe
Barbieri suggests that his initial design for the new burial ground of Verona was closely
modelled on the Vantiniano cemetery at Brescia. In both cemeteries, a Pantheon-based
chapel flanked by entrances on both sides was placed along the main façade, but
Barbieri later discarded his initial proposal and in the final project of 1827 opted for
a style that was rooted in the architectural heritage of Verona.47
110 Death and Risorgimento
While, even before unification, there were common elements in Italian funerary
architecture at a national level, there was a higher level of commonality within
regions, which resulted from local architectural traditions, shared cultural traits and
immediate political influences. There is evidence of nationalism in the use of archi-
tectural motifs and references that relate to the patria or fatherland. However, that
evidence is complicated by the various interpretations of the term patria, which might
be used to signify the nation, region or city.48 As a general issue, that overshadows
any definition of nationalism or any depiction of political conditions in nineteenth-
century Italy. In short, as nationalist tendencies were counterbalanced by regionalism
and an adherence to local styles, regional and civic loyalties might be seen to have
both rivalled, and stimulated, an emergent nationalism.

National memory and the cult of the dead


The political forces that swept through nineteenth-century Italy involved both the living
and the dead. The monumental cemetery, whose primary function was the burial of
the dead, also provided a platform for the construction of concepts that functioned
for the living. For example, the cemetery played a role in the evolution of the idea of
Italy as a nation, which developed gradually over the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, and which was by no means shared by the majority of the Italian population.
While unification could be achieved by political processes and military force, a
national community could only be constructed from an appropriate cultural and
ideological base. Thus, in the period of 1870–1890, Italy’s new rulers put in place a
range of political strategies, which were aimed at resolving issues that stemmed from
a lack of legitimacy on the part of the government, and from the gap between the
state and its citizens. Within that context, the commemoration of the dead was
fundamental to efforts to induce a sense of nationhood.49
Already in the eighteenth century, academic funerary design embraced the idea, as
expressed by the architectural theorist Francesco Milizia in 1781, that the purpose of
funerary monuments was for ‘the dead to educate the living’.50 In the early 1800s,
the poet Ugo Foscolo went further by associating funerary rites with national
patriotism. With the evolution of the Risorgimento, commemoration was allied to the
struggle for independence – as noted in 1828, ‘praise [of the dead] is sterile when it
comes from the lips of the subjugated’.51 Hence, the ‘cult’ of the dead became one of
the principle ideological vehicles for the various movements that contributed to the
struggle for national unity. Those who died for the fatherland were commemorated
as martyrs in propaganda that was successfully deployed, for example, by the patriot
Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872) and his supporters in the association La Giovine Italia
(Young Italy). Martyrdom was thought to be essential to the Risorgimento (literally
‘Resurrection’) of the nation. On one hand, the practice of venerating heroes was
opportunistic in that it borrowed from Catholicism and its language of sanctity,
sacrifice and redemption, thus operating in a manner that was akin to a national
‘religion’. On the other hand, the cult of the dead drew on the ideal of the Romantic
figure whose life is devoted to a difficult, if not impossible, mission. In the context of
Italy’s tormented fight for liberation, the efficacy of martyrdom lay in the capacity to
convert failure and loss into moral victories. After unification, martyrdom ceased
to be the battle cry of small groups of revolutionaries and became an element of the
Death and Risorgimento 111
official ideology of the Italian state. Within that framework, funerary architecture
came to the fore as a plank in the platform on which the new nation might be built.
Whereas, prior to the 1860s, Italian burial grounds were used to consolidate the
power of French, Austrian and Italian rulers through the commemoration of those
whom they chose to honour, within the newly unified Italy, cemeteries were harnessed
to the establishment of the nation state and to the construction of a shared memory
of the dead. In line with the Risorgimento, funerary architecture helped to create a
sense of history that embodied patriotic and civic values, and which aided the
promotion of a national identity. The monumental cemetery served as a crucible
wherein the different communities of Italy might be fused into a united nation,
however that may be defined, through a common memory and a sense of historical
continuity. In that respect, funerary architecture helped to articulate a narrative
through which the past might contribute to the legitimacy and identity of the new
nation state, and might also define cities and regions as they sought to find their place
within that state. Throughout the nineteenth century, painting, literature and other
media were used to similar ends.52 Yet the civic burial ground was ideal as a luogo
della memoria (site of memory) or a location where, to borrow an expression of the
historian Mario Isnenghi, memories might be conveniently loaded onto the collective
consciousness as baggage onto an airport conveyor belt.53 Arguably, much of that
‘baggage’ falls under the category of propaganda, but as propaganda it had a reality
in terms of the emergence of the new state and its formation as an imagined community.

Tombs of heroes
The commemoration of national heroes constituted the most obvious use of Italian
cemeteries for political ends. As one author described the process in 1887, after
unification, ‘the bones [of patriots] were sought from everywhere, and solemnly
brought back to their native lands, and celebrated with religious and civic rituals . .
. and with monuments’.54 For example, in the Verano cemetery in Rome, in the decades
following 1870 and the city’s annexation to unified Italy, the local authorities sought
to accord honourable burial to those who fought for the liberation of Italy. While, in
some cases, that involved awarding financial support to the relatives of the dead for
the creation of private monuments, other tombs were created directly with public funds.
Many ‘heroes’ were exhumed and reburied. For instance, during the 1870s and 1880s,
the municipality reburied activists of the Roman Republic, a short-lived democratic
government that, in 1849, ousted the papacy and established a liberal constitution
for Rome. Although the republic lasted only a few months, it was viewed as an
important step on the path to independence. Hence, for example, it was decided to
award a distinguished burial to the patriot Goffredo Mameli (1827–1849), who was
fatally wounded in 1849 while defending the Roman Republic against French efforts
to restore power to the papacy. Death at the age of 22 and a literary career that
included the lyrics of Italy’s national anthem, Fratelli d’Italia, lent Mameli the status
of a militant poet – a status that was exploited by Italy’s new political powers. Mameli
exemplified both romantic and democratic ideals and, as a hero of the Risorgimento,
he could be awarded the attributes of youth, beauty, a noble character and a bloody
fate.55 In 1889, his body was exhumed from a grave in a Roman church and moved
to a highly decorated monument in the Verano tomb.
112 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.1 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Goffredo Mameli, 1891


Source: The author (2014)

That cemetery also contains a monument erected in 1886 to the patriot Cesare
Lucatelli (1825–1861), who was a fervent opponent of Pope Pius IX. Following a
political protest in 1861, Lucatelli was unjustly accused of homicide and decapitated
by the papal authorities. His monument appropriates religious imagery as his severed
head is presented on a plate in a manner that is reminiscent of the iconography of
John the Baptist. That reference, together with a palm at the base of the monument
that signifies martyrdom, points to the parallels between the cult of national heroes
and the worship of Christian martyrs.56 Christian martyrdom presented a model for
‘patriotic sacrifices’ that were made to redeem the nation, and the status awarded to
those who died for the fatherland served to sanctify the national cause, to legitimise
the nation state, and to encourage faith in the new Italy. However, martyrdom was
not a necessary requisite in that military leaders of the Risorgimento who died a natural
death were also awarded elaborate tombs. When General Giacomo Medici (1817–
1882) died in 1882, having survived five military campaigns, he was commemorated
with a monument that was built at public expense within the main court of the Verano
cemetery. In 1898, another veteran commander of the Risorgimento, Enrico Cosenz
(1820–1898), was granted honourable burial within the same court. Imprisonment
or exile were also seen as sacrifices for the national cause. Thus, Mattia Montecchi,
a member of the first triumvirate of the Roman Republic who was forced into exile,
and died of natural causes in 1871, was also awarded burial in a central location in
the Verano.
Although the political use of commemoration was nothing new, its employment
during the Risorgimento differed, for instance, from the manner in which the
Napoleonic regime honoured anonymous heroes to bolster an ideology that was
less dependent on consensus.57 Coloured by romanticism and individualism, the
monuments to heroes of the Risorgimento were named and relatively individual.
Death and Risorgimento 113

Figure 3.2 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Cesare Lucatelli, 1886


Source: The author (2012)
114 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.3 Rome, Verano, monument to the Battle of Mentana, Virginio Vespignani, 1867
Source: The author (2012)

Yet commemoration could also be used as a blunt instrument by the forces opposed
to unification. For instance, in the last years of his reign, Pope Pius IX sought to signal
the power of the papacy through the construction of a monument to those who died
at the Battle of Mentana in 1867, a conflict that marked the failure of Giuseppe
Garibaldi to annex Rome to the new Italian state. Located at the centre of a recent
expansion of the Verano, the monument depicts a papal soldier receiving a sword
from St Peter – imagery that was intended to endorse the legitimacy of Pius IX’s claim
to Rome. The monument shows how martyrdom was used by both clerical and
nationalist powers as a weapon in the battle that pitched the defenders of Catholicism
against supporters of the fatherland. Individual ‘war graves’ were also created by the
Death and Risorgimento 115

papal forces in the Verano cemetery. For example, of the many who fell while
defending the papal dominion, one soldier (Achilles Bligny, who died in 1862) is
depicted in the uniform, and wide pantaloons, of a Zuavo or Zouave.58 The Zouaves
were an international force of devout Catholics who came to Rome in large numbers
to protect the Pope’s sovereignty from the forces of unification. As young volunteers
inflamed by romantic ideals and the prospect of martyrdom, the Zouaves were perhaps
comparable in spirit with the Italian patriots against whom they fought. It is a
testament to the political versatility of Italy’s new public cemeteries that the monument
to General Enrico Consenz, who fought for the demise of the papal regime in 1870,
is due passi from that of Achilles Bligny.
Whatever its role prior to unification, after 1860, greater energy was awarded to
the cult of the dead in order to strengthen a nation whose existence depended on
winning adequate public support for a divided state. The commemoration of national
heroes within cemeteries across northern and central Italy reflected the greater
concentration of nationalist sentiments within those regions. For example, at the
Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, an entire area was dedicated to Garibaldi’s Mille
(Thousand) who fought in the Sicilian expedition of 1860. Similarly, in the public
cemeteries at Pavia and Livorno, areas were set aside for garibaldini, or followers
of Garibaldi. In 1879, a privately funded monument was erected in the public
cemetery in Brescia to commemorate citizens who died in the insurrection of 1849
and the Wars of Independence. The Monumento ai Prodi Bresciani, or Monument to
the Worthy of Brescia, portrays Italy as a woman and Brescia, and the fortitude of
its citizens, as a lion. Thus, in an interplay of local and national sentiments, the
Monumento ai Prodi Bresciani endorses the contribution made by local patriots to
the struggle for nationhood. In line with a long-standing tradition, Italy is personified
as a woman who must be loved, defended and redeemed following a model that echoes
Antonio Canova’s tomb for Vittorio Alfieri (1810) in the Church of Santa Croce in

Figure 3.4 Rome, Verano cemetery, tomb of Zouave Achilles Bligny, 1862
Source: The author (2012)
116 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.5 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Monumento ai Prodi Bresciani (Monument to the
Worthy of Brescia), 1879
Source: The author (2012)
Death and Risorgimento 117

Florence.59 Equally, citizens of the city of Cagliari who fought for the liberation of
Italy were celebrated in a special area of the Bonaria cemetery that was created in
1885 under the auspices of the local Società dei Reduci delle Patrie Battaglie – an
association of veterans of the struggle for independence that was established after
unification.60 Such monuments served to perpetuate the memory of the Risorgimento
as a ‘generative myth’, and as a source of history through which the newly united
Italy might be legitimised. They also allowed for a measure of campanilismo in that,
by asserting their role in the struggle for independence, local urban elites could claim
a position within the new state.
Elaborate funerals also offered an opportunity to celebrate patriotism as the ‘religion
of the fatherland’.61 In 1872, the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa acted as the backdrop
for the funeral of Giuseppe Mazzini, one of the key figures of the Risorgimento. As
a choreographed event, Mazzini’s funeral was attended by thousands of his admirers
and was widely reported in the press. His body was accorded the sacred status of a
relic and was mummified to guarantee a secular immortality. Having been paraded
through railway stations from Pisa to Genoa, Mazzini was buried in a tomb that is
sombre and archaic, and whose Greek Doric order might be seen to underline his
democratic and republican values. Equally, the funerals of King Victor Emanuel II
(1878) in the Pantheon in Rome, of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1882) on his native island
of Caprera, and of Giuseppe Verdi (1901) in the Monumental cemetery in Milan were
staged as major events in order to sustain patriotism and a collective identity.

Figure 3.6 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, tomb of Giuseppe Mazzini, Vittorio Gaetano Grosso,
1872
Source: The author (2009)
118 Death and Risorgimento

The role of archaeology


The emphasis placed on heroes and remembrance was principally aimed at establishing
a shared history, or a common ancestry that might tie local communities to the
nation. Within Italy’s monumental cemeteries, that objective was also supported by
archaeology. Founded in 1827 on the site of an ancient necropolis, the Bonaria
cemetery in Cagliari was further developed in the 1860s–1880s in parallel with the
excavation of Punic, Roman and early Christian tombs. The archaeological investi-
gations, which were publicised through pamphlets, guidebooks and journal articles,
were intended to harness the historical value of the location and to enhance the
significance of the new cemetery.62 More importantly, they were meant to reinforce
the identity of the local community by establishing a link with past generations and
a sense of ancient kinship. In 1869, the archaeologist in charge of the excavations,
Giovanni Spano, noted the relationship between local pride and the fact that ‘the site
[of Bonaria cemetery] was used as an ancient necropolis by Cagliari’s earliest
inhabitants: so that many of the graves of our ancestors, after twenty or maybe thirty
centuries or more, now enclose the bodies of their descendants’.63 The succession, or
layering, of ancient and modern dead was taken to symbolise continuity with the past,
and to be a source of local patriotism.
In 1869, an Etruscan burial ground was discovered during work at the Certosa
cemetery in Bologna.64 Subsequent archaeological excavations sparked a bout of
‘Etruscomania’, as evidenced by an Etruscan-themed carnival held in Bologna in 1874.
The remarkable level of popular interest resulted, in part, from nationalist sentiments,
in that the Etruscans were identified as forefathers of the nation who united Italy
before the Romans. However, local pride was also at stake. As a former capital
struggling to assert itself within a united Italy, it suited Bologna’s interests to nominate
the city as the capital of ancient Etruria. In 1876, Antonio Zannoni, the municipal
engineer who directed the excavations in Bologna, claimed that the discovery of an
Etruscan legacy associated the city with the origins of Italian civilisation, and ‘the sun
which later shined on the cradle of Michelangelo, Cellini and Raphael first shone’ on
Bologna.65 That the modern cemetery was situated over an ancient necropolis was
important as, in Zannoni’s words, the recent dead were buried ‘in contact with’
Bologna’s ancient inhabitants, thus establishing a link with the city’s progenitors.66
That proximity was taken to represent an ethnic continuity with the past and the
persistence of a common social memory. Similarly, in his 1879 poem ‘Fuori alla Certosa
di Bologna’ (‘Outside the Certosa of Bologna’), the poet Giosuè Carducci notes the
succession of ancient peoples that inhabited the area, which included the Etruscans,
Celts and Romans, in order to emphasise how they ‘sleep here with our more recent
dead’.67 Carducci’s description of a transgenerational community relates to a sense of
belonging that is determined by descent, heredity or occupation of the land, but
whether ethnic or geographical, patriotism was promoted through an association with
archaeology.

Temples of fame
Alongside the development of tombs for national heroes, nineteenth-century Italy
witnessed the emergence of pantheons for the burial of worthy citizens. The name
derived from the Pantheon in Rome, which, since the Renaissance, had been used for
Death and Risorgimento 119
the commemoration of artists, musicians, writers and other important figures. In the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Pantheon became known throughout Europe
as a model for the honourable burial of those whose achievements might express a
nation’s political and cultural aspirations.68 Among the most notable pantheons to
result from that period are the Panthéon in Paris (1791), which is modelled on the
Roman Pantheon, and the Walhalla near Regensburg in Bavaria (1830–1842), which
is in the form of a Greek Doric temple. As with the latter, the idea of the pantheon
could be detached from the Roman format.
In Italy, the popularity of the pantheon as a type resulted, in part, from the nature
of the Risorgimento. Prior to unification, pantheons helped celebrate the dead in a
manner that nourished an emergent rebellious and patriotic ideology. After 1861, they
facilitated the endorsement of Italy’s new rulers as the legitimate successors of the
nation’s heroes. In fact, the deployment of the pantheon as a political tool was first
sanctioned under the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. In 1809, the Viceroy Eugène de
Beauharnais (1781–1824) proposed the reconstruction of the graveyard of Milan’s
main hospital, or the foppone of San Michele.69 The intention was explicitly
propagandistic in that the foppone was to be converted into a monumental cemetery
and furnished with a pantheon modelled on the Panthéon in Paris. To this end, the
architect Luigi Cagnola (1762–1833) presented three neoclassical designs that varied
in terms of their cost. However, the estimated expense associated with the project,
and the end of French rule in 1814, impeded its realisation.
The pantheon planned for Milan illustrates how the French exploited the Italian
urge for independence by courting patriotic sentiments in a manner that frustrated
the cause of Italian liberation.70 The project was part of a wider strategy for major
urban developments in Milan that was intended to garner support for French rule,
while thwarting local ambitions for independence from France. The aim, as expressed
in a Napoleonic decree of 1809, was patriotic in that it envisaged an ‘Italian Panthéon
. . . to honour the memory of men, who have served the fatherland [patria]’.71
However, given that Italy was not a free state, the ‘fatherland’ might be interpreted
in relation to French, rather than Italian, interests. As the proposed pantheon was
destined primarily to accommodate high officials of the Napoleonic administration,
its primary function was to honour the French regime instead of the notion of a free
Italy. In 1809, on hearing of the Viceroy’s plans to build a pantheon in Milan,
Napoleon is said to have quipped, ‘he [Beauharnais] has built niches waiting for the
saints [to fill them]’ – a gibe suggesting that it was premature to create a monument
to national heroes within a subjugated nation.72 Meanwhile, in the same year, the
Italian ‘graveyard poet’ Ippolito Pindemonte signalled the general appropriateness of
the pantheon to contemporary cultural and political conditions, when he called for
‘a beautiful sacred court’ to be built within major cities ‘where those who did great
things in high, or low positions, may rest with equal honour in a splendid tomb’.73
In the spirit of the Enlightenment, there was a general, and relatively long-standing,
appetite for the commemoration of the worthy. The pantheon proposed for Milan
exemplified how that urge was expressed in a complex political situation in which
the French regime sought to use patriotism, and a desire for independence, to win
local support and to secure its foothold in Italy.
In the period between the Restoration and the establishment of the nation state
(1815–1861), a number of major cemeteries were furnished with one, or more,
pantheons that reflected the fledgling nature of the Risorgimento. For example, at the
120 Death and Risorgimento
Certosa cemetery in Bologna, a project of 1812, which was advanced by a private
citizen and funded by subscription, called for a monument dedicated to ‘illustrious
ancestors’ who ‘flourished in this City in the sciences, arts, and at war’.74 As shown
in Chapter 1, this echoed a meritocratic tradition in academic funerary design that
was particularly concerned with celebrating those who were distinguished in the arts,
sciences and the military. Although nothing came of the initial proposal for Bologna,
the idea was adopted by the local council in 1821 and a pantheon was initiated two
years later to honour those whose ‘merit’ was evidently public.75 In the monumental
cemetery of Verona (1828), the illustrious and the charitable were accommodated in
two distinct pantheons that reflected the division between secular and religious values.
Two pantheons were also built in Ferrara in 1851, of which one housed ‘illustrious
men’ and the other those that were known for their ‘sanctity and Christian piety’.76
Whereas such monuments celebrated local forms of patriotism, they were also
symptomatic of a rising civic consciousness with the context of the Risorgimento. The
importance of the pantheon was illustrated in an article published in an architectural
journal in Milan in 1856, which, while seeking to establish principles for the design
of cemeteries, advocated the inclusion of a pantheon on the grounds that it would
reinforce the role of the cemetery as ‘a homage to civic virtue’ and as a ‘permanent
monument to the history of the fatherland’.77 Such monuments were not exclusive to
burial grounds in that, for instance, in 1826, a pantheon for the ‘worthy’ was erected
in a central piazza of the city of Pistoia.78 Churches might also act as pantheons, as
at Santa Croce in Florence and San Domenico in Palermo.
Before unification, the pantheon existed in Italy in a form that was relatively common
in nineteenth-century Europe, albeit that, within different political and cultural
contexts, it carried specific meanings and was underpinned by different historical roots.
Nevertheless, the Italian pantheon of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
can be tied back to general concepts relating to the foundation of nation states, the
ideal of a meritocratic society, individualism and the emergence of the bourgeoisie.
However, after 1861, it adopted a format for which the term famedio, or ‘temple
of fame’, was coined to denote pantheons that were appropriate to new, and specific-
ally Italian, political conditions. The term famedio was first used in the 1880s
by the Milanese architect Luca Beltrami, but may be applied to the pantheon as it
evolved after unification, and to its role as a buttress of the new Italian state.79 The
famedio signalled the development of a building type that was central to Italy’s
monumental cemeteries. Examples range from the neoclassical famedio built in the
Vantiniano cemetery in Brescia between 1869 and 1910 to the pantheon erected
at the monumental cemetery in Lucca in 1874–1875 (Catalogue 12). In Brescia, a
famedio was created in addition to a monumental lighthouse (1849–1864) in the shape
of a 60-metre-tall Doric column, which houses the tomb of the cemetery’s designer,
Rodolfo Vantini (see Figure 2.3 in Chapter 2). At the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa,
the main chapel (1861–1870), which was modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, was
designated to act as a famedio in 1872.
In general, the purpose of the famedio was to assist in crafting a history for an
emergent nation, and in constructing a collective identity through narratives that were
based on past events and shared ideals. It was, in many ways, an idealised reflection
of contemporary Italian society. It also embodied the ambitions of the journalist Carlo
Tenca, who, writing in Milan in 1856, hoped that ‘the common cult of great virtue
and illustrious names’ might nurture ‘a generous attachment to the fatherland’.80 Tenca
Death and Risorgimento 121

Figure 3.7 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, famedio, Giovanni Battista Resasco, 1861–1870
Source: The author (2009)

saw the commemoration of the dead as a unifying force, a ‘source of sacred memories,
. . . a tie that unites the generations . . . and strengthens the consciousness of civic
solidarity’.81 Whereas, traditionally, church graveyards united parishes as religious
and social communities, the monumental cemeteries gathered the dead into civic
communities bound by secular values. In that it afforded distinguished burial to
honourable citizens, the famedio was also intended to help build Italian society
through a process of emulation – a role founded in the conviction, as expressed by
122 Death and Risorgimento
the politician Tullo Massarani in 1860, that remembrance ‘educates towards civic
virtue’ by drawing on ‘memories of the past, [and] hopes for the future’.82 In that
sense, as noted by an architect writing in Bologna in 1897, the famedio symbolised
the ‘union and continuity between the past, the present and the future’.83 In effect,
the famedio functioned as a mechanism through which the illustrious were sifted into
one place, so that the celebration of those chosen to represent the community might
reinforce the power of cities and bolster the existence of the new state.
Clearly, the famedio reflected both an emergent nationalism and parallel forces
associated with regionalism and a desire to celebrate local histories. Those who were
accorded honourable burial were commemorated as Italians and as citizens of a proud
city or region, and that emphasis on local identity demonstrates how national and
local patriotism were amalgamated in the political make-up of the new state. In Italy,
the civic famedio occupied the position taken in other European countries by the
Valhalla or national burial place. It illustrated efforts to narrate a national history
through local episodes, or through the translation of local historical events onto a
national stage – efforts that, after unification, were also supported by the establishment
of local institutes of patriotic history. This is not to suggest that Italy’s many pantheons
might together make up a national Valhalla, or that many local identities might
add up to form a unified Italian identity, but rather that local narratives crafted mul-
tiple national identities as suited to Italy’s various cities and regions.84 Thus, a
fragmented national consciousness emerged, not from the amalgamation of local
identities, but through their mediation. In that the civic pantheons stood in for the
national burial place, that which was local offered a synecdoche for nationhood.
Essentially, the famedio was part of a wider project whereby, after 1860, municipal
authorities used cultural policies that centred on local history to foster a sense of
national consciousness. In contrast to the state-supported rituals that focused on the
role of the Savoy monarchy, municipal efforts to erect monuments, or to hold patriotic
events, were more successful in that they concentrated on the local contribution to
national history. Through such local initiatives, urban elites bolstered their status
and that of their city, but also accessed a sense of belonging to the nation.85 Thus,
the famedio operated on the two levels of the city and the nation, and demonstrated
how the local and national elements of patriotism might coexist, and even supplement
each other.
As with the monumental cemeteries, the failure of the famedio to gain a foothold
in southern Italy may be ascribed to the nature of local political and social contexts,
and to the relative lack of nationalist fervour that characterised the southern half of
the peninsula. There is, however, one significant exception in the form of a large and
extravagant famedio that was opened, in 1872, at the Gran Camposanto cemetery at
Messina in Sicily.86 In the same year, the cremated remains of Giuseppe La Farina
(1815–1863), a hero of the Risorgimento, were removed from Turin to the famedio
in his native Messina – an event that might be taken to symbolise the ‘localisation’
of Italian nationalism or its adaptation to suit local interests.87
The political purposes of the famedio are perhaps best illustrated by Milan’s
Monumentale cemetery, where a ‘special temple’ was founded to honour ‘the glorious
events of the Risorgimento’.88 Although not part of the initial project for the cemetery
of 1863, it was decided, in 1870, that a famedio should occupy a building that was
initially designated as a church, and which is situated at a focal point in the centre of
the cemetery’s main façade. The original design for the building as a church, by Carlo
Death and Risorgimento 123

Figure 3.8 Messina, Gran Camposanto, famedio, Leone Savoja, opened 1872
Source: Courtesy of Gavin Stamp (2016)

Figure 3.9 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, famedio, Carlo Maciachini, 1870


Source: The author (2009)
124 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.10 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, famedio, interior


Source: The author (2012)

Maciachini, was left unaltered and suggestions of ecclesiastical architecture may have
helped to reinforce a cult that was wound around the illustrious dead. That capacity
to tap into an established ideological powerbase associated with the Church, or to
transfer power from religious to secular forces, may have also underpinned the
famedio at the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa in that it was also housed in a church.
Given that the famedio as a building type was generally secular, a pantheon that acted
as a church may be taken to represent secularisation, the waning power of the Church
and the ‘sacralisation’ of politics in nineteenth-century Italy.89
In Milan, the municipal commission charged with the task of selecting those worthy
of inclusion in the famedio created a guide that was published in 1887 to coincide
with its opening, and which included biographies of those selected. The com-
memoration of the worthy was seen to offer ‘a very useful occasion for the education
of the people’ – an education that was aided by the guide, and by an orderly
arrangement of plaques that sorted the deceased on the basis of historical periods,
professions and the nature of their association with Milan.90 As those honoured in
the famedio were generally either born in Milan, or lived in the city, their selection
promoted local pride and marked Milan’s contributions to the nation, thereby playing
to both nationalist and regionalist sentiments. The building’s interior was divided
according to three eras that represented Milan as a free medieval city state, its
subjugation under foreign rule and its liberation, thus offering a tailored history of
the region. In a mosaic above the main entrance, a personification of history is depicted
recording names, which indicates how the famedio served to construct a history for
Death and Risorgimento 125
the newly emancipated Milan around those who were ‘illustrious, worthy, or
distinguished in terms of the history of the fatherland’.91
Milan’s famedio celebrated the end of foreign oppression, portrayed heroes as
models of civic virtue, and promoted an identity founded on a glorified account
of the Risorgimento. Prominence was accorded to the heroes of the Italian Wars of
Independence. Although not native to Milan, the patriots Camillo Cavour, Carlo
Farini, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Bettino Ricasoli were treated as honorary citizens on
the basis of their role in the unification of Italy. Moreover, in 1883–1884, the remains
of the local patriot Carlo Cattaneo (1801–1869) and the Milanese writer Alessandro
Manzoni (1785–1873) were transferred to the famedio with great pomp and ceremony.
As the author of the highly successful novel I promessi sposi (1827), which was also
a milestone in the development of the Italian language, Manzoni was given pride of
place at the centre of the famedio.92 His tomb symbolised the unification of Italy
through the appointment of a national language, but might also have been taken to
represent the more intractable issues associated with unifying a nation that was
culturally and linguistically divided. The significance awarded to Manzoni might
explain why his bones were said to ‘consecrate’ the famedio as the relics of a martyr
might validate a church. The removal of his remains to the famedio in 1883 was seen
as an instrument of national and social cohesion, and is reported to have ‘attracted
innumerable scores of citizens from Milan and elsewhere in Italy of all social classes,
from workers’ representatives to the highest orders of the state and the most illustrious
scientific and artistic institutions’.93
It is also significant that the Risorgimento was not the only source of history, or
patriotic sentiments, evoked by the famedio. In awarding importance to political figures
of the Middle Ages, when Milan was a free and independent commune, the famedio
constituted a direct response to local ambitions regarding the status of the city and
its region. In 1876, on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Legnano, a plaque was
erected in the famedio to Alberto da Giussano, a legendary warrior of the Lombard
League who was said to have defended the Italian communes from invasion by the
Emperor Frederick I – an event which as an Italian alliance against a foreign oppressor
was seen to have foreshadowed the Risorgimento.94 Given that the League was led
by Lombardy, there is also the suggestion that its capital Milan might take a position
of leadership within united Italy. The fact that Milan’s famedio has relatively few
tombs and a considerable number of monuments and plaques dedicated to those who
are buried elsewhere highlights the extent to which the building served an ideological
rather than a practical purpose. Its political and social functions were, inadvertently,
underlined by the architect Camillo Boito, who opposed the concept of the famedio
on the basis that it would be more advantageous to erect public monuments within
the centre of Milan. In 1862, Boito held that:

A cemetery is not the place to put empty cenotaphs and honourable monuments
to the country’s great men. It is beneficial for the people to have those inspiring
monuments under their eyes in the piazzas . . . for the great deeds of the past to
enthuse, catalyse, [and] aggrandise the present.95

In fact, following unification, the famedio functioned in a similar manner to the


numerous monuments that were erected throughout Italy, many in streets and squares
that were renamed to honour the nation’s heroes.96
126 Death and Risorgimento
As a model, the famedio in Milan was replicated, in 1879, within the cemetery of
the nearby city of Pavia (Catalogue 19). However, in Pavia, tensions between civic
and religious authorities regarding the piety and moral rectitude of various candidates
distorted the process through which the worthy were selected for burial in the famedio.
As a result, the commission appointed to the task of selecting candidates sat for 10
years from 1887. Nonetheless, in the guidebook published for its opening, Pavia’s
famedio was defined as ‘an eloquent page on the history of the fatherland’ and ‘the
most educational and useful school for the citizenry’.97 As at Milan, particular
attention was given to those who died for the fatherland in the period from the
uprisings of 1848, and who could be portrayed as the founding fathers of the nation.
Equally, in the inaugural speech of 1897, the famedio, as an expression ‘of pure and
noble patriotism’, was said to preserve the spirit of men who, although ‘they did not
live to see Italy’s rise among nations, kept its great soul alive [when it was] bound by
the shackles of servitude’.98
The pantheon and the famedio had literary equivalents in the form of books that
were published to celebrate ‘martyrs’ of the fatherland. For instance, Atto Vannucci’s
greatly popular I martiri della libertà, which appeared in seven editions between 1848
and 1887, narrates the events of the Risorgimento through the biographies of patriots
and provides gruesome accounts of torture, imprisonment and death.99 Equally,
Gabriele d’Amato’s Panteon dei martiri della libertà italiana (first published in 1851)
was a collection of ‘hagiographies’ of national heroes.100 Before unification, when
occupying regimes impeded the creation of monuments to national heroes, ‘paper
pantheons’ acted as surrogate memorials. After 1861, their function was comparable
to that of the famedio, as they served to gather a cast of heroes for inclusion in a
national history and to remind future generations of their debt to the dead.

The demise and revival of political commemoration


That the famedio was rooted in efforts to strengthen the nation state was also
evidenced in its decline at the end of the nineteenth century, which followed from a
waning of patriotic forces and of interest in the political uses of commemoration.101
In fact, that the impetus behind the famedio stalled at the end of the 1800s might be
taken as a symptom of the gradual exhaustion of the patriotic impulses that drove
the Risorgimento and the creation of united Italy. Writing in 1897, Alfonso Rubbiani
(1848–1913), a Catholic conservative and one of Bologna’s most influential architects,
declared that the pantheon (1823–1828) in the public cemetery at Bologna, which
housed several hundred busts of worthy citizens, had run its course. Rubbiani reported
that ‘we no longer think of sculpting monuments to illustrious men’ and that ‘the idea
may have little currency in the future’ – hence, the fact that the pantheon in Bologna
was already in a semi-abandoned state.102 In Rubbiani’s view, civic virtue went
unheeded ‘in the individualistic pandemonium’ that took hold at the end of the
1800s.103 Mocking the pantheon’s lofty ideals, he suggested that, instead of looking
to the city’s famedio, a monument might be erected, at regular intervals, to a beautiful
woman to be nominated by the local council.
Although the urge for honourable burial places declined at the end of nineteenth
century, it revived in the aftermath of the Great War, in part, due to a need to give
meaning to unprecedented bloodshed. The fascist state of 1922–1943 adopted ideas
that were previously associated with the pantheon in efforts to exploit death as
Death and Risorgimento 127

propaganda through the construction of monuments and tombs.104 Mussolini’s


regime inherited from its liberal predecessors a concept of nationhood that rested on
the ideal of martyrdom and on the political use of commemoration, and it deployed
those strategies in order to re-engineer the memory of the heroes of the Italian
Wars of Independence, the fallen soldiers of the Great War, and the ‘martyrs’ of the
fascist struggle for power. Thus, the cult of the dead hero, which emerged during
the Risorgimento, was later adopted as a lynchpin of a different, and fascist, ideology.
Moreover, monumental cemeteries continued to provide arenas for political impera-
tives, as is evidenced by the Certosa cemetery of Bologna, where a site designated in
the 1830s for an unexecuted pantheon was adopted nearly a century later for a fascist
monument to the dead.105
The evolution of political strategies that were initiated in Italy’s nineteenth-century
cemeteries meant that the body of the patriot Goffredo Mameli, who was laid to rest
at the Verano cemetery in Rome in 1889, was exhumed by the fascist regime in 1941
and transferred to the Janiculum Hill, where he had been mortally wounded defending
the Roman Republic in 1849. Together with other followers of Giuseppe Garibaldi
who fought to free Rome in 1849–1870, Mameli was buried in the new Ossario
Garibaldino – an ossuary in a stripped classical style that is suggestive of Rome’s
imperial glory. The relocation of Mameli’s bones is emblematic of the ever-changing
role of the dead in the propaganda of the living, and of the constant reinvention
of the past to suit current political needs. In that respect, further changes occurred in

Figure 3.11 Bologna, Certosa cemetery, Monuments to the Fallen of the Great War and the
Fascist Revolution, 1926–1927, Filippo Buriani, Arturo Carpi, Giulio Ulisse
Arata and Erole Drei
Source: The author (2012)
128 Death and Risorgimento
the politicisation of death after the end of the Second World War, when republican
Italy sought to define its identity in opposition to fascism. At the Certosa cemetery in
Bologna, for instance, an ossuary was created in 1958 for the ‘martyrs’ who died in
the Resistance movement and in Nazi death camps. Whereas the notion of sacrifice
for the patria (fatherland) was carried over from the nineteenth century, the idea of
patria for which lives were lost was reformed in line with shifting political conditions.
With each shift, monumental cemeteries played a part in defining Italy’s national
identity through a shared memory of the dead.
In summary, therefore, it might be said that prior to unification, the commemora-
tion of the worthy was used by occupying regimes as an instrument of subjugation
or appeasement. However, as early as the 1820s, the pantheon was also adopted as
an expression of a nascent patriotism and a developing civic consciousness. After
unification, the famedio was used to sustain local identities, to construct an idea of
nationhood and to strengthen the power of Italy’s new rulers. In that regard, the
pantheon proposed by the French regime in Milan in 1809, the monument built by
Pope Pius IX to the battle of Mentana and the decorated tombs of heroes of the
Risorgimento resulted from comparable efforts to consolidate different, but dominant,
ideologies. That the commemoration of heroes and martyrs was harnessed to the
service of power was recognised in a guide to Milan’s famedio of 1887, which claimed
that Napoleonic efforts to create a pantheon resulted from patriotic imperatives and
were ‘one of the most worthy memories’ of the Risorgimento.106 Thus, efforts to exploit
the dead could even lead one regime to adopt the strategies of another.

Church versus state


Throughout the nineteenth century, Italian cemeteries acted as arenas within which
tensions between Church and state were acted out. The construction of public burial
grounds on the outskirts of many Italian cities coincided with a redistribution of power
from religious to public authorities. From the mid-1700s, the reformation of burial
practices resulted in the transfer of responsibility for the dead from the Church to the
municipality, and the clergy lost much of its control over death as a major source of
power and revenue. The administration of funerary rituals was not the only point of
contention. Clerical power was threatened on a number of fronts as nineteenth-century
Italy was swept by waves of secularism and anticlericalism that were tied to political
interests, atheism, and a radicalism that emerged mainly in cities in the north and
centre of the peninsula.107 Catholic forces reacted to secularisation, and to Italian
nationalism as a competing ‘political religion’, with an aggressive campaign of
propaganda and reform. Although on opposite sides of the ideological divide, Italian
patriots and ardent Catholics used the rhetoric of sacrificial death, whether in the
name of God or the nation. The memory of the dead played a central part in the
Kulturkampf, or ‘culture war’ between the Church and secular authorities.108 In that
context, the Breach of Porta Pia (1870) and the absorption of the Papal State into a
unified Italy represented major sources of conflict that soured relationships between
the new Italian state and the Vatican, and which raised issues that were not formally
resolved until the Lateran Pacts of 1929 restricted papal sovereignty to the Vatican
State. A major authority within a divided nation, the papacy hindered rather than
supported the process of unification, with the result that the Church lost even more
power with respect to the political structures of the new Italy. Whereas, prior to
Death and Risorgimento 129
unification, relations between lay powers and clerical interests were often problematic,
tensions increased after 1870 as the homogenisation of the legal system across Italy
accelerated the pace of secularisation. In fact, Italy’s new rulers exploited a growing
antagonism to the Church as a platform from which they could harness additional
support for the new nation state.
It is important, however, not to overstate the binary nature of the opposition between
secular and clerical powers, as diverse and nuanced positions were adopted within
the various faiths regarding the roles of religion and the state. Some Catholic reformers
held views that were compatible with those of liberals and atheists with regard to
secularisation and the role of the clergy in funerary rituals.109 There were those for
whom reform was founded on the idea that the spiritual renewal of the Church was
dependent on its disassociation from temporal power. Within Catholic circles, different
factions elected to defend or oppose clerical privileges, sometimes from positions that
masked a wider social or political agenda. Meanwhile, a significant part of the Italian
population remained relatively uninterested in the issues associated with secularisation.
Regional differences throughout Italy meant that levels of anticlericalism and of
attachment to religious traditions varied considerably, and the power of the Church
remained more entrenched in the countryside and most of the south.110 Moreover,
for many of its supporters, secularisation did not imply the abandonment of religious
faith. An examination of Neapolitan wills demonstrates that, over the course of the
second half of the nineteenth century, there was a marked reduction in the number
of donations given to the Church.111 Yet it also shows that the number of appeals
regarding the afterlife, which were made to God, the Madonna or saints, remained
constant throughout that century – which suggests a decline in the power held by the
clergy rather than in religious belief. Furthermore, that study noted the appearance
of references to the ‘fatherland’ in Neapolitan wills written in the late 1800s, as
exemplified, in 1891, by a father’s appeal to his son to love ‘God, the Fatherland and
family’ (‘Iddio, la Patria e la famiglia’).112 Such references point to the coexistence of
patriotism with more ambiguous approaches to faith.
The tensions and rivalries between the Church and public authorities were exacer-
bated by the fact that, whereas by the mid-nineteenth century most burial grounds
were public, they were administered by the clergy and served a Catholic majority.
Reforms of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries brought most cemeteries
under public jurisdiction. The next step towards secular and multi-denominational
burial grounds was secured by legislation that was introduced into unified Italy in
1865, and which was extended to Venetia and Rome in 1866 and 1870, respectively.113
That legislation was intended to impose multi-denominationalism in public cemeteries
in the form of areas designated for non-Catholics, and particularly for Protestants,
Jews and Orthodox Christians. Although that maintained the separation of the dead
within a common burial ground, it went against a long tradition of segregation
involving separate graveyards, and met with resistance from some clerical and lay
members of the Catholic Church. Equally, the inclusion of atheists within public
cemeteries was seen to be controversial. Resistance was compounded by the fact that,
while the central government had the power to pass legislation concerning burial, the
design and construction of cemeteries fell to the municipal authorities.
The Verano cemetery in Rome illustrates the difficulties that arose in the nineteenth
century from tensions between the Church and political interests. Although founded
by the Napoleonic regime in 1811, the Verano was completed after 1855 by the
130 Death and Risorgimento
restored Pope Pius IX (reigned 1846–1878). Its completion reflected attempts to
transfer control over funerary practices from the lower clergy to the papal govern-
ment.114 Later, in 1870, responsibility for the dead was removed from the papal
authorities to the Italian state, albeit that elements of the clergy retained an admin-
istrative role in burial grounds. Whereas the new Italian government tried to bring
Rome in line with national legislation with respect to the inclusion of non-Catholics
within public cemeteries, traditionalists and clergymen fought to maintain the Verano
as an exclusively Catholic cemetery. That conflict reflected the atmosphere of tension
that existed in the 1870s–1880s, or in the wake of Rome’s annexation to unified Italy,
between political authorities and the Vicariate of Rome as the Pope’s representative
in the Roman diocese. In 1872, the clergy protested that the Verano cemetery had
been ‘polluted’ by the burial of a Protestant, which led to the exhumation of the corpse
and its removal to the non-Catholic cemetery in the Testaccio area of Rome.115 In
1876, the burial of an atheist within the Verano cemetery proved to be equally
contentious. Such was the strength of the Church’s resistance to reforms in Rome that
it was not until 1911 that regulation was passed, which established areas for non-
Catholics within the Verano cemetery.
Equally in Lucca, in 1881, the monumental cemetery was under clerical administra-
tion when its custodian, Padre Ignazio, addressed an indignant letter of complaint
to the municipal authorities.116 That letter concerns the body of Vincenzo Coletti, a
professed atheist, who was to be buried in the non-Catholic area of Lucca’s cemetery
in accordance with regulation. In the early hours of the morning before Coletti’s
funeral, a group of his friends broke into the cemetery and buried his body in a vacant
grave in the Catholic area. From the archival documentation, which includes letters
from Coletti’s supporters and the blacksmith employed to break into the cemetery, it
is unclear what measures, if any, were taken by the local council in response to this
violation.
That cemeteries occupied an ambiguous position in relation to the realms of Church
and state was reflected in the emergence, during the nineteenth century, of the term
cimitero as a neutral or secular alternative to the expression campo santo that indicates
a Catholic cemetery on consecrated ground.117 Economics also played a part in that,
for example, in Cagliari in 1842, a request by the Catholic authorities to renovate
the monumental cemetery of Bonaria was categorically denied by the municipality on
the basis that the cemetery had been publicly funded since its foundation.118 Similarly,
in 1844, the local council in Naples assumed the power to counteract the influence
of the local congreghe, or religious confraternities, particularly with regards to the
location, format and size of monuments erected within the cemetery.119 The existence
of such measures in Naples highlights the difficulties in drawing stark distinctions
between north and south with regards to the power of the Church. That difficulty
is also evidenced by the fact that, in Turin in 1845, the Archbishop commended a
northern local council for having submitted the project for the extension of the city’s
public cemetery for his approval.120

Cremation
Perhaps the most contentious issue associated with Italy’s monumental cemeteries was
the development of cremation, which was important both in terms of the evolution
of Italian funerary architecture and as a major element in the ‘culture war’ between
Death and Risorgimento 131
the Church and secular authorities. The significance of cremation in nineteenth-
century Italy follows from the historical context from which it emerged.121 Whereas
cremation was a common funerary rite among the upper classes in ancient Greece
and Rome, the early Christian preference for interment meant that, from the fourth
century, it fell into disuse within Europe. Inhumation remained the common mode of
burial for Christians throughout medieval and early modern periods – a preference
that was upheld by the Catholic Church, which forbade cremation on historical and
religious grounds until 1963. Among Catholics, cremation was seen to be at odds
with the funerary traditions of the Church and the example of Christ’s entombment.
It was said that cremation destroyed the body as created by God, and that a cremated
corpse could not be ‘reassembled’ at the resurrection of the dead. In defiance, cremation
enjoyed a limited popularity within radical circles in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, and was promoted by the French revolutionary government in 1797 as part
of a decree against the Catholic Church.122 Yet, it was not until the nineteenth century
that the practice of cremation became widespread in Europe when its reintroduction
resulted in the construction of crematoria in many European countries.
It is remarkable that, despite the Church’s stance on cremation, its revival originated
partly in Catholic Italy.123 From the late 1860s, Italian scientists and engineers,
including Celeste Clericetti, Giovanni Polli and Paolo Gorini, pioneered new and
innovative techniques for cremation that were openly endorsed by doctors, liberals,
philanthropic associations and rationalist thinkers. In addition, Protestant, Jewish and
evangelical groups maintained calls for the introduction of cremation that paralleled
scientific progress in the field. In other countries, such as Germany, France, Great
Britain and the United States, scientific advancements also followed from intellectual
debates about the value of cremation. However, in 1874, Italy became a major force
behind a radical change in funerary practices when the combined efforts of individuals
and groups gave rise to legalisation and official support for cremation. The first modern
European crematorium was built in 1876 in the Monumentale cemetery of Milan with
funds endowed by the Protestant businessman Alberto Keller on his death in 1874.
In 1876, Keller’s corpse was the first to be cremated in the new crematorium, which
also marked the first cremation in a closed receptacle in Europe – an event that was
followed by an interested press.124
Given the resistance of the Catholic Church, it is interesting that Italy adopted
cremation ahead of countries such as Britain, Germany and France, particularly in
that religious interests did not generally oppose its emergence in Protestant countries.125
Whereas the practice of cremation initially evolved at a slower pace in Northern
Europe, in Italy, opposition from the Church boosted its popularity within anticlerical
and radical groups. The first calls for cremation came largely from scientific and
medical circles. In 1857, the scientist Ferdinando Coletti (1819–1881) catalysed a wide
following when he spoke in favour of cremation at the Academy of Sciences, Letters
and Arts in Padua. Cremation appealed to a rationalist mindset that sprang from the
Enlightenment, and which endorsed the principles of progress and philanthropy. It
was also associated with efforts to improve hygiene in cities. For example, the
physician and Freemason Gaetano Pini (1846–1887) advocated incineration in a bid
for cleanliness and the suppression of disease in Italy’s expanding urban centres.126
Thus, although the pro-cremation movement emerged within scientific circles that were
largely secular, it was not necessarily tied to anti-religious sentiments, and could be
motivated by hygienic, economic and ethical concerns.127
132 Death and Risorgimento
From the 1860s, the issue of cremation was adopted by members of parliament,
and by various publications and journals. The involvement of politicians went beyond
the need for an efficient mode of disposal of the dead in that cremation presented a
means to reduce the power of the Church and clerical interference in funerary matters,
and could be allied to a wider strategy to impose equality in the treatment of the dead.
It was also adopted as a battle cry by freethinking journals such as Il Libero Pensiero
and Il Libero Pensatore, and by proponents of liberalism, republicanism, radicalism
and other ideologies that were rooted in the Risorgimento.128 Although cremation
was endorsed by Salvatore Morelli, Agostino Bertani, Felice Cavallotti and other
members of the radical left, the movement remained largely bourgeois and urban in
character. With the notable exceptions of Filippo Turati and Andrea Costa, socialism
had a minor role in its endorsement. In contrast, from 1874, Freemasonry played a
central part in the promotion of cremation as a practice that suited a political agenda
centred on anticlericalism, liberalism and the endorsement of scientific and social
progress.129 Indeed, many of the major supporters of cremation, from powerful
politicians to authoritative scientists, were Freemasons.
In general, the arguments raised in support of cremation focused on issues of
practicality, hygiene and morality.130 At one level, it was promoted as a more efficient
way to dispose of the dead in the face of demographic growth and urban in-migration
that put a strain on existing cemeteries. It was also encouraged on hygienic grounds
in that interment was thought to pollute the air, soil and water. Essentially, cremation
was portrayed as an enlightened funerary rite, which was engendered by advances
that were rational and scientific. It was seen to preserve human dignity in that it avoided
decomposition and guaranteed equality as ‘the mortal remains of the millionaire and
the dispossessed, the genius and the idiot, the timid and the ruthless would be
preserved equally within identical urns’.131 As ashes could be kept in the family home,
in gardens and even in churches, cremation allowed the bereaved to retain contact
with the dead, which was thought to be morally edifying. This shows that promotors
of cremation did not deny the cultural value of the dead body. In fact, towards the
end of the nineteenth century, proximity to the dead gained greater significance as
cremationists sought to counteract the relocation of cemeteries to the suburbs. On
the other hand, although some supporters of cremation insisted on its ancient heritage,
its Catholic opponents held that it was contrary to tradition, nature, popular sentiment
and religion.132 They also argued that incineration was uneconomical as, in the
nineteenth century, it was more expensive than interment due to the length of the
procedure and the consumption of large quantities of combustible material. Whereas
opponents of cremation highlighted the risk of being burnt alive in case of apparent
death, cremationists pointed out that incineration would avert the danger of being
buried alive – which illustrates how both sides fashioned arguments relating to the
public good.133
Cremation was portrayed by its supporters as part of a struggle against prejudice
and religion, and as a philanthropic and humanist endeavour propagated by ‘the
enlightened avant-garde of human civilisation’ that promoted the ‘supreme principles
of freedom and tolerance, which are the only true religion of civilized peoples’.134
Conversely, the Church’s defence of inhumation masked its hostility to the secular-
isation of society, and its resistance to liberalism, radicalism and Freemasonry in
the period following the conquest of Rome in 1870. In 1874, the year in which crema-
tion was legalised in Italy, Pope Pius IX prohibited Catholics from participating
Death and Risorgimento 133
in national elections, ‘neither to elect, nor to be elected’.135 Although that interdiction
was not rigorously observed, it expressed the divided nature of a society within which
cremation was a major political issue. The case of Giuseppe Garibaldi as a Freemason,
revolutionary leader and national hero is emblematic.136 When Garibaldi died in 1882
leaving instructions for his corpse to be burnt on a pyre, he was interred by his family,
which acted with the support of the King and the Church, thereby sparking outrage
among his supporters. In 1886, the Vatican sought to put an end to what was termed
‘the nauseating human rotisserie’ with a decree that threatened cremationists with
excommunication, and which was not withdrawn until 1963.137 However, as already
stated, the support awarded to cremation was by no means clear-cut, or limited to
liberals and atheists. It won support from some members of the Catholic laity and
clergy within the context of a liberal movement for the reformation of Catholicism
and the separation of the Church from temporal matters.138 Thus, the debate regarding
cremation can be understood in terms of both reformist and conservative elements in
Italian society, and conflicts between major institutions in the form of the Church,
Freemasons and the government.
It is also significant that the first official cremation in 1876 coincided with the fall
of the right-wing party Destra storica and the rise of the left, and that it took place
in Milan as Italy’s industrial capital. Italy’s primacy with respect to cremation was
viewed by some as a mark of international prestige, and over the next few decades a
number of crematoria were erected in cities in northern and central Italy.139 Generally,
those crematoria resulted from collaboration between local councils and a Società
della Cremazione that operated as a local society for the promotion and administration
of cremation, and which subsisted mainly on bequests, private donations and
subscriptions drawn from its members. Depending on the dominant political opinion
in any individual city, a civic council might also subsidise the building of a crematorium
through public funds, or might perhaps provide a site – an obligation that was imposed
on councils by law in 1888. Support for cremation was underpinned in the major
cities of northern and central Italy by tendencies towards anticlericalism and
freethinking that spread among the educated, members of the professions, and an
emergent middle class. In fact, research by the historian Fulvio Conti shows that,
between 1876 and 1910, approximately 50 per cent of those cremated across Italy
belonged to the professional bourgeoisie and a further 20 per cent to a landowning
aristocracy.140 In the decades beyond 1876, and following the development of
crematoria in Milan and other northern cemeteries, the new templi crematori
(cremation temples) carried out a small, yet rising, number of cremations. In contrast,
as late as 1998, southern Italy accounted for only one of 37 crematoria in Italy, an
imbalance that resulted in part from social conservatism, the relative scarcity of a
liberal middle class and the strength of the Church.141 Equally, rural areas throughout
Italy were not generally served by what was essentially an urban, liberal and bourgeois
phenomenon.

Crematoria
The architecture of Italian crematoria was shaped, in part, by anticlericalism and
liberalism, but also by the ambition to render cremation more acceptable through the
use of traditional aesthetics and known architectural conventions.142 In that cremation
134 Death and Risorgimento

was a relatively unprecedented function, the crematorium was effectively a new


building type and its development throughout Europe has been compared to that of
the first railway stations.143 Practical requirements and aesthetic issues meant that
architects were faced with new questions regarding style and planning formats.
Whereas some opted for solutions that originated from established architectural
typologies, in 1881, the architect Augusto Guidini (1853–1928) described how ‘as
soon as a new idea appears on the cultural horizon of an epoch, architecture creates
a new language to express it’.144 In addition, the design of crematoria was beset by
issues that stemmed from a clash between the functional demands of cremation and
the emotional needs of the bereaved – an issue that was also associated with the
development of new, and appropriate, rituals. While the public might require an
architecture that afforded dignity, or which was reassuringly familiar, the complex
machinery of incineration called for specific planning solutions, which presented to
the public a disturbing reality that designers might seek either to expose or conceal.
The crematorium embodied a new and evolving technology that was potentially noisy
and malodorous, and which posed particular issues with regards to the dispersal of
fumes, the passage of the coffin to the furnace, and whether to conceal the furnace
in order to shield the bereaved from the most basic fact of cremation.145 Faced with
these challenges, some architects looked to traditional aesthetics. Others seized the
opportunity to devise ‘new’ or hybrid architectural languages and to adopt a more
direct and candid approach to technological and planning issues. In general, however,
the need to establish cremation as an acceptable funerary practice promoted an
interest in monumentality, solemnity and architecture that appealed to the collective
memory. Historicism dominated the design of crematoria between the 1870s and the
end of the century, although stylistic differences emerged from the manner in which
historical sources were interpreted. Some designers sought to promote cremation, and
to satisfy the emotional needs of the bereaved, by stressing a sense of continuity
with the past through associations drawn from conventional architectural formats.
In contrast, others opted to reject convention and religious orthodoxy through

Figure 3.12 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium façade, Carlo Maciachini, 1876
Source: The author (2009)
Death and Risorgimento 135

architecture that presented cremation as a progressive means of disposing of the dead


within a more enlightened culture.
The crematorium in Milan was built in 1876 to a neo-Greek project by the architect
Carlo Maciachini, who also designed the Lombard Romanesque framework of the
Monumentale cemetery (1863). The Doric colonnade, distyle temple-front, urns and
blazing flames of the crematorium carried meanings that conveyed a sense of time-
lessness, permanence and immortality, and perhaps a reference to cremation as an
ancient funerary rite. Between 1880 and 1883, additions were made to each side of
the main building to accommodate columbaria for the storage of cremated remains.
The interior was also rearranged so that the corpse could be placed on a trolley that
was carried on rails from the mortuary chamber to the furnace door. That door opened
automatically, which was seen to endow the process of cremation with greater
dignity.146 In 1896, a comparable layout was devised after further changes were made
to the crematorium by the architect Augusto Guidini.
The crematorium in the monumental cemetery of Turin, which was built by the
architect Pompeo Marini in 1888, is also neoclassical and includes a porticoed Doric
columbarium that was added, by Daniele Donghi in 1898, for the storage of cremated
remains. Similarly, the crematoria at Pisa and Florence, built in 1883 and 1884,
respectively, were faced with classical temple-fronts. Medieval styles were also adopted;
for example, in 1896 in Siena for a crematorium that was designed by Augusto Corbi
(1837–1901) to resemble a Romanesque church, and which has a recessed portal
and a protruding façade that are reminiscent of octagonal baptisteries in the Tuscan

Figure 3.13 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium interior, altered by Augusto


Guidini, 1896
Source: The author (2009)
136 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.14 Pisa, suburban cemetery, crematorium, 1883


Source: The author (2011)

tradition. Whereas medievalism placed the crematorium within the realm of traditional
ecclesiastical architecture, the exploitation of local architectural sources had overtones
of regionalism and civic pride. In general, historicism in any form might serve to supress
suggestions of the new and controversial nature of cremation.
The design of Italy’s crematoria can also be examined with regards to the treatment
of both the furnace and the chimney as major architectural elements of the new building
type. In Carlo Maciachini’s original design for Milan of 1876, and prior to later
alterations, the furnace was contained within a classical sarcophagus – a strategy that
was also adopted in 1883 at the crematorium in Brescia. In Florence, in 1893, it was
decided to decorate a plain and functional furnace with a sandstone veneer carved in
a Gothic style. In Milan, Maciachini drew on medieval sources to disguise the chimney
(now destroyed) as a Romanesque belfry (see Figure 3.15). Similarly, in Cremona, in
1883, the chimney was hidden within a classical column. In 1881, the architect Augusto
Guidini, an ardent supporter of cremation, created a theoretical project that combined
a furnace masked as a sarcophagus with a smokestack in the guise of a Doric column.
Thus, it was not unreasonable for the architect Fritz Schumacher to describe, in 1939,
the early stage in crematorium design as ‘an aesthetic struggle against the chimney’.147
While they might resemble a church in appearance, crematoria performed a double
function as places of worship and of incineration. The machinery, which constituted
the heart of the crematorium, was a product of industry. It was generally prefabricated
and marketed by one of a number of competing manufacturers. Thus, Celeste Clericetti,
an engineer and inventor of techniques for cremation, exposed a common problem
when he underlined the importance of ‘preserving all the appearance of a funerary
ceremony and distracting from the industrial features’ of the crematorium.148 In some
projects, that problem was in the hands of engineers and inventors, rather than
Death and Risorgimento 137

Figure 3.15 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, crematorium, original design, Carlo Maciachini,
1876
Source: Pini (1885), reproduced by kind permission of the Boston Medical Library in the Francis A.
Countway Library of Medicine

architects. For example, in 1887, the Società di Cremazione in Bologna affirmed that
‘the machinery for cremation must proceed in step and in harmony with the rest of
the construction, which cannot be achieved, if the designer of the furnace is not the
designer of the entire building’.149 Nonetheless, Giuseppe Venini, the inventor of the
‘Venini’ furnace, who was charged with the design of a crematorium for the Certosa
cemetery in Bologna, chose the path of concealment. Completed in 1888, Venini’s
crematorium was decorated with urns, acroteria and door surrounds, which were
perhaps intended to suggest solemnity and to render cremation more acceptable to
the general public.
Historicism and camouflage were generally intended to promote cremation, and to
encourage its adoption, rather than to underline its origins within radical politics and
progressive social circles. Efforts to mask furnaces and chimneys indicated an
awareness of cultural and emotional sensitivities. Yet, orthodoxy and historicism
were sometimes set aside in favour of architectural formats that distinguished between
cremation and conventional forms of burial. Similarly, although eclecticism was not
uncommon in the architecture of late nineteenth-century Italy, with respect to crem-
atoria it gave rise to designs that were evidently innovative – of which the crematorium
at Lodi was among the most original.
138 Death and Risorgimento

Figure 3.16 Project for a crematorium, Augusto Guidini, 1881


Source: Guidini (1881)
Death and Risorgimento 139

Figure 3.17 Lodi, Riolo cemetery, crematorium, original design, Paolo Gorini, 1877
Source: Pini (1885), reproduced by kind permission of the Boston Medical Library in the Francis A.
Countway Library of Medicine
140 Death and Risorgimento

Its construction was funded directly by the civic authorities rather than by a Società
di Cremazione, a rare situation that was described in a plaque on the façade of the
crematorium as a source of civic pride.150 The crematorium at Lodi was also the second
to be built in Italy in that it was completed in 1877, or a year after the crematorium
in Milan. The original design was created by the scientist and inventor Paolo Gorini
(1813–1881), an idealistic patriot and a friend of Giuseppe Mazzini, whose corpse
Gorini was charged with embalming. Whereas the furnace of the crematorium at Lodi
was encased in a sarcophagus, the overall composition was dominated by a large
chimney that was decorated by colonnettes, urns and cross-shaped air vents in a
structure reminiscent of the ancient lighthouse of Alexandria. Although clad in
recognisable historical references and fitted with a furnace that was intended, according
to Gorini, to satisfy ‘the eye and aesthetics’, the design of the crematorium at Lodi
was broadly utilitarian.151 The space of the interior was limited to the furnace, and
the public were encouraged to watch the process of incineration through openings set
within the external walls – a solution that was widely praised among the supporters
of cremation for its efficiency.
The crematorium at the Verano cemetery in Rome, which was opened in 1883,
demonstrates how crematoria also carried meanings that were expressed through
uncommon architectural languages. The design of the crematorium reflected an array
of Egyptian and Greek models. Prior to alterations in 1929, it embodied a cube
surmounted by a stepped pyramidal roof, and was reminiscent of the pyramids of
ancient Egypt and the mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Figure 3.18 Rome, Verano cemetery, crematorium, Salvatore Rosa, 1883


Source: Pini (1885), reproduced by kind permission of the Boston Medical Library in the Francis A.
Countway Library of Medicine
Death and Risorgimento 141
While the use of Egyptian motifs was commonplace in funerary architecture of the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, its popularity declined beyond the
Restoration (1815) due to associations with secularism and radical politics.152 The
crematorium at the Verano incorporated two Egyptian columns that, together with
the pyramid, constituted Masonic symbols and signalled the involvement of Free-
masons for whom the construction of the crematorium represented a victory after
two years of opposition from the Vatican and Rome’s municipal authorities.153 In
that respect, the design of the crematorium in Rome also demonstrates how different
architectural formats might express imperatives associated with specific local groups.
It is possible to identify different, and even opposing, trends in the architecture
of Italian crematoria, which were expressed through designs that ranged from the
conciliatory to the assertive. It is important that crematoria were built within public
cemeteries that were dominated by a Catholic majority, which was generally committed
to inhumation as the traditional form of burial. Thus, crematoria expressed different
responses to the architectural contexts established by neighbouring buildings and
tombs. For example, in the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa, the crematorium was clad
in the Doric order in accordance with the portico from which it is accessed. In contrast,
whereas the main buildings of the cemetery in Milan are Lombard Romanesque, the
crematorium, which is also by the architect Carlo Maciachini, is in a classical style
that suggests a desire to distinguish cremation as a new funerary rite with ancient
roots.
While the Church resisted the introduction of cremation, it also attempted to ensure
that crematoria were constructed in secondary locations within public burial grounds,
or on external sites adjoining cemeteries. In the clashes that resulted between any
individual Società di Cremazione and the Church, the national government generally
backed the demands of the cremationists, while municipal authorities frequently sided
with the clergy.154 In most instances, legislation concerning burial that was imposed
by the state met with a degree of resistance from local councils. Moreover, while
relationships between the central government and the Vatican were generally tense,
closer ties might exist between the municipal authorities and local clergy. For instance,
in Bologna in 1887, the local council, under pressure from Catholic groups, decided
that a crematorium should be built with an independent entrance and in a separate
area next to the Certosa cemetery, supposedly ‘in homage to true freedom’.155 Equally,
in Pisa in 1883, the crematorium was built in the non-Catholic area of the civic
cemetery.156 Projects associated with crematoria were also abandoned by the municipal
authorities; for example, at the San Michele cemetery in Venice, plans drawn up in
1877 for the creation, in a prime location, of a columbarium for the storage of ashes
were never realised.157 In 1882, a Catholic chapel was built in its place. In contrast,
the relative prominence and scale of individual crematoria offered some measure of
the secular power of the citizenry and anticlerical sentiment within a parent city. It
was perhaps indicative of the strength of local secular groups that, in Livorno in 1885,
the council granted the local Società di Cremazione a corner chapel within the main
framework of La Cigna cemetery. Equally, in Turin, the crematorium, which was begun
in 1888, was located on a prominent site by the entrance to the city’s monumental
cemetery.
In Pavia, the placement of the crematorium was the focus of a protracted debate
that lasted between 1883 and 1912.158 A strong tradition of anticlericalism in Pavia
meant that, in 1876, the city’s monumental cemetery was built without a chapel in
142 Death and Risorgimento
order to preserve its secular nature. In 1883, the local Società di Cremazione charged
the architect of the cemetery, Angelo Savoldi, with the design of a crematorium that
was to be built in a prominent location within the burial ground; that is, on the eastern
side of the main court and opposite the entrance. The clerical authorities responded
by asking Savoldi to draw up plans for a chapel for the same site. By 1885, Savoldi
had fulfilled both commissions in a Byzantine-Romanesque style that was in keeping
with the existing arcades.159 In 1886, the Mayor of Pavia attempted to impose a
compromise whereby the contested location on the eastern side of the court would
be occupied by an ossuary, and the chapel and crematorium would be built, facing
each other, to the north and south – thus, satisfying those who wanted the location
facing the entrance ‘to be kept neutral, with respect of issues of privilege and
priority’.160 However, that solution encountered practical difficulties. Another
proposal, advanced in 1886, to build a combined crematorium and ossuary on the
eastern site was supressed in 1893. Eventually, in 1901, a crematorium was built in
an area to the south of the cemetery that is set back from the main court. In effect,
clerical interests prevailed and, in 1912, a chapel-cum-ossuary was built on the
coveted eastern site – a situation that constituted a betrayal of the secular identity of
the cemetery.161
Three projects for the crematorium at Pavia, designed by Angelo Savoldi in 1885,
1886 and 1901, reflect a gradual reduction in scale while he sought to suppress
meanings associated with cremation. In the first project of 1885, the function of the
crematorium was expressed by a dominant chimney and by a cinerarium, or ash chest,
which was placed at the centre of the façade. Although that centrepiece remained in
the reworked design of 1886, the chimney was hidden. The tendency towards
concealment was taken a step further in the executed project of 1901 in that the furnace
was located in a subterranean chamber – a possibility offered by advancements in
technology (see Figure 3.19). Moreover, as the only component visible above ground,
the chimney was decorated as an eclectic neo-Romanesque tower. In short, the case
of Pavia demonstrates how political factors could determine both the location and
design of crematoria.
Despite such conflicts, Italy was the first country in Europe to revive the practice
of cremation on a relatively large scale, and pioneering developments in the field were
driven partly by forces associated with liberalism and anticlericalism. As an element
in the general struggle for power between the Church and political interests, cremation
was seen, by both sides, to express a rejection of religious authority. In that sense,
designers were faced with choices that reflected two broad tendencies. An approach
founded in appeasement sought to represent cremation through established meanings
and architectural traditions. Although cremation was rooted in liberal and progressive
ideas, orthodoxy in terms of aesthetics and the masking effects of traditional
architectural styles may have encouraged its adoption among the general public. In
contrast, the architecture of cremation was also used to express more innovative
approaches to death that stemmed from scientific progress, the cultural traditions of
the Enlightenment, and the rise of secularism within the middle classes. In any case,
in nineteenth-century Italy, cremation functioned as a flashpoint in the power struggles
between the Church and state. As a major shift in funerary practice, it represented a
significant area of conflict, as conservative and Catholic forces fought with liberals
and freethinkers for space within Italy’s evolving ideological and cultural structures.
In effect, it afforded a major platform for tensions between Church and state, tensions
Death and Risorgimento 143

Figure 3.19 Pavia, monumental cemetery, crematorium, Angelo Savoldi, 1901


Source: The author (2012)
144 Death and Risorgimento
that enveloped Italian cemeteries as emergent political interests sought to use com-
memoration as a medium of power and influence in the new nation. Those tensions
were aggravated by the fact that public cemeteries were largely state-owned but
administered by the clergy, and conflicts were played out through the architecture and
layout of burial grounds, the provision of crematoria, the privileges awarded to
Catholics and restrictions imposed on non-Catholics. In short, Italy’s monumental
cemeteries responded to a web of opposing forces that stemmed from clerical and
secular interests, local and national patriotism, and competing efforts to politicise the
memory of the dead.

Notes
1 Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into
a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989), 141.
2 Pietro Selvatico, Sul futuro cimitero di Padova (Padua: Prosperini, 1860), 3; Padua,
Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali, Sanità, b. 1153, 7 September 1866.
3 Venice, Archivio Storico Civico, 1855–1859, IV Sanità, 19, 4 August 1859.
4 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Carteggio amministrativo, XV, 2, 1811.
5 Rome, Archivio di Stato, Congregazione del Buon Governo, s. III, b. 133. However, this
statement was made by a stonemason seeking to increase his fee.
6 F.C. [?], Le scienze e le arti sotto il pontificato di Pio IX (Rome: Belle Arti, 1860), 129–30;
also, Attilio La Padula, Roma 1809–1814. Contributo alla storia dell’urbanistica (Rome:
Palombi, 1958), 105.
7 Venice, Archivio di Stato, Governo, 1802, XXIX, letter of 30 January 1802 to the Regio
Governo Generale di Venezia, 3.
8 Giovanni Battista Contarini, Menzioni onorifiche dei defunti (Venice: Lauro Merlo, 1866),
49.
9 Loreto di Nucci and Ernesto Galli della Loggia, ed., ‘Introduzione’, in Due nazioni:
Legittimazione e delegittimazione nella storia dell’Italia contemporanea (Bologna: Il
Mulino, 2003), 1–16.
10 Adrian Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past: history, myth, and image in the Risorgimento’,
in Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the
Risorgimento, ed. Albert Russell Ascoli and Krystyna Von Henneberg (London:
Bloomsbury Academic, 2001), 27–31; John Agnew, Place and Politics in Modern Italy
(London: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 55–8; Lucy Riall, Risorgimento: The History
of Italy from Napoleon to Nation-State (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 122–32.
For definitions of campanilismo: Derek Beales, The Risorgimento and the Unification of
Italy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1981), 23; Terry Kirk, The Challenge of
Tradition, vol. 1 of The Architecture of Modern Italy (New York: Princeton Architectural
Press, 2005), 88.
11 Derek Beales and Eugenio Biagini, The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy (Harlow:
Longman, 2002), 163–75; Stuart Woolf, A History of Italy 1700–1860: The Social
Constraints of Political Change (London: Methuen, 1979), 283–92.
12 Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy since 1796 (London: Allen
Lane, 2007), 110.
13 Carlotta Sorba, L’eredità delle mura: Un caso di municipalismo democratico (Parma
1889–1914) (Venice: Marsilio, 1993), 12–13 and 224–9; Ilaria Porciani, ‘Identità locale-
identità nazionale: La costruzione di una doppia appartenenza’, in Centralismo e
federalismo tra Otto e Novecento: Italia e Germania a confronto, ed. Oliver Janz,
Pierangelo Schiera and Hannes Siegrist (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1997), 159–71; Axel Körner,
Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy: From Unification to Fascism (London: Routledge,
2009), 163.
14 Davide Chiossone, ‘Belle Arti’, Gazzetta di Genova (30 October 1858), quoted in Franco
Sborgi, Staglieno e la scultura funeraria ligure tra Ottocento e Novecento (Turin: Artema,
1997), 38–9.
Death and Risorgimento 145
15 Luca Beltrami, ‘Il Cimitero Monumentale’, Il Monitore Tecnico I, 23–4 (1 November
1895), 190.
16 Giovanni Spano, Storia e necrologio del Campo Santo di Cagliari (Cagliari: A. Alagna,
1869), 1–2.
17 ‘Relazione della Commissione per l’ampliamento del Camposanto’, 19 December 1873,
quoted in Il cimitero monumentale di Perugia (Assisi: Minerva, 1999), 40.
18 F.C., Le scienze, 130.
19 Brescia, Archivio di Stato, ‘Relazione del Podestà Feroldi al Consiglio Comunale del 17
November 1840’, R. XXIV, b. 9/3a, parte I.
20 Luigi Tatti, Il Camposanto di Como: Memoria apologetica dell’architetto Luigi Tatti
(Milan: Domenico Salvi e comp., 1850), 6.
21 Ornella Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione: I cimiteri della prima metà dell’Ottocento nel
Lombardo-Veneto’, in L’Architettura della memoria in Italia: Cimiteri, monumenti e città
1750–1939, ed. Maria Giuffrè et al. (Milan: Skira, 2007), 136–7.
22 Achille Voghera and Oreste Voghera, Raccolta dei disegni dell’architetto Luigi Voghera
(Milan: Bartolomeo Saldini, 1842), no page numbers.
23 Voghera, Raccolta.
24 Undated letter of the 1840s to the Municipal Congregation of Pavia (Pavia, Archivio
Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico Comunale, cart. 22).
25 Local council meeting of 27 December 1857 (Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti Comunali,
Sanità, b. 1153).
26 Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 186–252.
27 Letter of 18 February 1864 (Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico
Comunale, cart. 22, ‘Offerte di concorso alla spesa’).
28 Modena, Archivio Storico Comunale, Fondo amministrativo, filza 506/2, ‘Rapporto della
Commissione istituita per la elaborazione di un progetto di generale sistemazione del
pubblico cimitero in San Cataldo’, 2 April 1855.
29 Ercole Gasparini, Progetto di unire i portici di San Luca colle loggie del cimitero comunale
di Bologna (Bologna: Sassi, 1811), 8.
30 Emanuela Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo di rappresentanza nella Bologna di primo Ottocento’, in
La Certosa di Bologna: Immortalità della memoria, ed. Giovanna Pesci (Bologna: Editrice
Compositori, 1998), 126 and 128.
31 Anon., La Certosa di Bologna, 1835, quoted in Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo’, 126.
32 Ippolito Andreasi, Cenno storico-artistico sul Comunale Camposanto nell’antica Certosa
di Ferrara (Ferrara: Michelangelo Maccanti, 1855), 7.
33 Porciani, ‘Identità’; Körner, Politics of Culture, 163–4.
34 Ferdinando Canonici, Storia e descrizione dell’antica Certosa di Ferrara (Rovigo: A.
Minelli, 1851), 6 and 42.
35 Beales and Biagini, The Risorgimento, 26; Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 231–3.
36 Lucy Riall, The Italian Risorgimento: State, Society, and National Unification (London:
Routledge, 1994), 30 and Risorgimento, 108–13; Paolo Pezzino, ‘Local power in Southern
Italy’, in The New History of the Italian South: The Mezzogiorno Revisited, ed. Robert
Lumley and Jonathan Morris (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1997); John Dickie,
Darkest Italy: The Nation and Stereotypes of the Mezzogiorno, 1860–1900 (Basingstoke:
Macmillan, 2000), 15–20; Beales and Biagini, The Risorgimento, 156–61; Francesco
Pezzini, ‘Disciplina della sepoltura nella Napoli del Settecento. Note di una ricerca’, Studi
storici LI, 1 (2010), 196–7.
37 Alfredo Buccaro, Opere pubbliche e tipologie urbane nel Mezzogiorno preunitario (Naples:
Electa, 1992), 168.
38 Gabriella Cianciolo Cosentino, ‘Il Gran Camposanto di Messina’, in L’Architettura della
memoria in Italia, 219.
39 See Chapter 2; Cosentino, ‘Il Gran Camposanto’, 221; Rosario Battaglia, L’ultimo
splendore: Messina tra rilancio e decadenza (1815–1920) (Messina: Rubbettino Editore,
2003), 113.
40 Mauro Dadea and Mario Lastretti, Memoriae: Il Museo Cimiteriale di Bonaria a Cagliari
(Cagliari: Arkadia, 2011), vol. I, 68.
41 Letters dated 12 June–7 July 1858 (Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico
Comunale, b. 23).
146 Death and Risorgimento
42 Letter of 20 February 1858 (Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali, Sanità, b. 1153).
43 The text contains interesting revisions: ‘Non è più permesso dalle vigenti leggi la
corrispondenza ufficiale [insertion: ‘all’Estero’] con alcuna autorità del Regno d’Italia’,
letter from the mayor Francesco De Lazzara (Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali,
Sanità, b. 1153).
44 Letter of 14 June 1873 (Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Fondo Ufficio Tecnico Comunale,
cart. 23).
45 Leone Savoja, ‘Lettera del Prof. Leone Savoja all’egregio Prof. Antonio Costa Saya’, 1880,
quoted in Gabriella Cianciolo Cosentino, ‘Il Gran Camposanto’, 224.
46 Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione’, 141. Equally, features of the Staglieno cemetery in
Genoa were replicated on a reduced scale within the neighbouring towns of Quinto, Nervi,
Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Sestri Ligure: Franco Sborgi, ‘Il cimitero di Staglieno
come “museo” della scultura in Liguria’, in Dal seicento al primo novecento, vol. 2 of
La scultura a Genova e in Liguria (Genoa: Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Genova e
Imperia, 1988), 384–9.
47 Verona, Biblioteca Civica, Archivio di disegni, stampe e fotografie, 2. n. 1–16. See also
Chapter 4.
48 Paolo Macry, Ottocento: Famiglia, élites e patrimoni a Napoli (Turin: Einaudi, 1988),
IX–XI; Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 7; Körner, Politics of Culture, 27–8.
49 On the political exploitation of death in nineteenth-century Italy, see: Bruno Tobia, Una
patria per gli italiani: Spazi, itinerari, monumenti nell’Italia unita (1870–1900) (Rome:
Laterza, 1991); Alberto Maria Banti, ‘La memoria degli eroi’, in Storia d’Italia, vol. 22
of Annali (2007) and ‘The Remembrance of Heroes’, in The Risorgimento Revisited:
Nationalism and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Italy, ed. Silvana Patriarca and Lucy Riall
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Oliver Janz and Lutz Klinkhammer, ed., La
morte per la patria: La celebrazione dei caduti dal Risorgimento alla Repubblica (Rome:
Donzelli, 2008), 1–44; Riall, Risorgimento, 16–20 and ‘Martyr cults in nineteenth-century
Italy’, The Journal of Modern History 82, 2 (June 2010).
50 Francesco Milizia, Principj di architettura civile (Bassano: Remondini, 1813), 206.
51 M. [?], ‘Necrologia di Vincenzo Monti’, Indicatore Genovese 25 (25 October 1828), 91.
52 Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’.
53 Mario Isnenghi, ‘Presentazione’, in I luoghi della memoria: Strutture ed eventi dell’Italia
unita (Rome: Laterza, 1997), VII. On the concept of ‘sites of memory’, see also: Pierre
Nora, ed., Les Lieux de Mémoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1984–1992). For a different view on
the formation of national identities, see: Richard Handler, ‘Is “identity” a useful concept?’,
in Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. John Gillis (Chichester:
Princeton University Press, 1994). On nations as ‘imagined communities’, see: Benedict
Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
(London: Verso, 2006).
54 Atto Vannucci, I martiri della libertà italiana dal 1794 al 1848 (Milan: Tipografia
Bortolotti di Giuseppe Prato, 1887), VIII.
55 Luigi Mascilli Migliorini, Il mito dell’eroe. Italia e Francia nell’età della restaurazione
(Naples: Guida Editori, 2003); Lyttelton, ‘The hero and the people’, in The Risorgimento
Revisited.
56 Emilio Gentile, Il culto del Littorio: La sacralizzazione della politica nell’Italia fascista
(Rome: Laterza, 1993), 5–19; Janz and Klinkhammer, ed., La morte, IX–XVII; Riall,
‘Martyr cults’.
57 Roberto Balzani, ‘Alla ricerca della morte “utile”. Il sacrificio patriottico nel Risorgimento’,
in La morte, 20–1.
58 Vincent Viaene, ‘Gladiators of Expiation: The Cult of the Martyrs in the Catholic Revival
of the Nineteenth Century’, in Retribution, Repentance and Reconciliation, ed. Kate
Cooper and Jeremy Gregory (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004); Carol Harrison,
‘Zouave Stories: Gender, Catholic Spirituality, and French Responses to the Roman
Question’, Journal of Modern History 79, 2 (June 2007).
59 Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 38.
60 Dadea and Lastretti, Memoriae, vol. II, 75.
61 Banti, ‘La memoria’ and ‘Remembrance’; Körner, Politics of Culture, 182–4; Lyttelton,
‘The hero’.
Death and Risorgimento 147
62 Vincenzo Crespi, ‘Sepolcreti antichi nel Campo Santo di Cagliari’, Bullettino Archeologico
Sardo 6, IX (June 1863); Giovanni Spano, ‘Sarcofago antico recentemente scavato nel
Campo Santo’, Bullettino Archeologico Sardo 7, X (January–February 1864) and Storia;
Mauro Dadea, ‘I primi passi dell’archeologia in Sardegna. Esperienze di scavo e
ritrovamenti epigrafici a Cagliari nel XVI secolo’, Archeologia Postmedievale 5 (2001);
Dadea and Lastretti, Memoriae, 21–8.
63 Spano, Storia, 16–17.
64 Antonio Zannoni, Gli scavi della certosa di Bologna descritti ed illustrati, etc. (Bologna:
Regia Tipografia, 1876); Cristiana Morigi Govi, ‘Antonio Zannoni e le scoperte
archeologiche della Certosa’, in La Certosa di Bologna; Körner, Politics of Culture, 131–48.
65 Zannoni, Gli scavi, 156.
66 Zannoni, Gli scavi, 15.
67 Giosuè Carducci, Il Carducci, cento poesie, prose, lettere e scritti vari (Padua: Liviana,
1965), 125; translation: Giosuè Carducci, Selected Verse (Warminster: Aris & Phillips,
1994). 168.
68 Barry Bergdoll, ed., Le Panthéon: Symbole des révolutions, de l’église de la nation au
temple des grands hommes (Paris: Picard Éditeur, 1989), 97–150; Matthew Craske and
Richard Wrigley, ed., Pantheons: Transformations of a Monumental Idea (Aldershot:
Ashgate, 2004), 3; Robin B. Williams, ‘A nineteenth-century Monument for the State’, in
The Pantheon: From Antiquity to the Present, ed. Tod A. Marder and Mark Wilson Jones
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 359–60.
69 Cesare Staurenghi and Pio Pecchiai, L’Ospedale Maggiore di Milano e i suoi antichi sepolcri
(Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1916), 341. See also, Ugo Camerino, ‘La Rotonda di S. Michele,
a Milano’, L’Architettura: Cronache e storia VIII, 12 (April 1963).
70 Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 92; Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 8–11.
71 Viceregal decree of 22 June 1809, quoted in Staurenghi and Pecchiai, L’Ospedale, 341.
72 Staurenghi and Pecchiai, L’Ospedale, 343.
73 Ippolito Pindemonte, I ‘Sepolcri’ di Ippolito Pindemonte: Storia dell’elaborazione e testo
critico (Verona: Edizioni Fiorini, 2002), 33. See also Chapter 2.
74 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Carteggio amministrativo, XV, 2, 1812.
75 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, Allegati, 1879,
faldone 3. See also: Körner, Politics of Culture, 180–1.
76 Andreasi, Cenno, 14.
77 C.G. [?], ‘Sullo stile dei cimiteri’, Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (June
1856), 643.
78 Emilio Lavagnino, L’arte moderna dai neoclassici ai contemporanei (Turin: Unione
Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1961), 102–3; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 158; Anne
O’Connor, Florence: City and Memory in the Nineteenth Century (Florence: Edizioni Città
di Vita, 2008), 23–37.
79 Luca Beltrami, Il cimitero monumentale di Milano: Guida artistica (Milan: Stabilimento
V. Turati, 1889), 29.
80 Anon. [Carlo Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano II’, Il Crepuscolo
VII, 16 (20 April 1856), 259.
81 Anon. [Carlo Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, Il Crepuscolo
VII, 15 (13 April 1856), 244.
82 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 May 1860, XXVIII, Tullo Massarani, ‘Commissione pel cimitero
monumentale’, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 6–7.
83 Alfonso Rubbiani, ‘Il Pantheon degli uomini illustri’, Il Resto del Carlino (19 October
1897), republished in Alfonso Rubbiani, Scritti vari editi e inediti (Bologna: L. Cappelli,
1925), 119.
84 Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’, 27–9; Körner, Politics of Culture, 128–9.
85 Porciani, ‘Identità’, 148.
86 Cosentino, ‘Il Gran Camposanto’, 223–4. Although only partially completed, and now
badly damaged, Messina’s famedio incorporated a portico for the burial of the worthy,
thereby reflecting a tradition established in eighteenth-century academic funerary
architecture (see Chapter 1).
87 Dizionario biografico degli italiani 63 (2004), accessed online 1 June 2013.
148 Death and Risorgimento
88 Carlo Tedeschi, Origini e vicende dei cimiteri di Milano e del servizio mortuario (Milan:
G. Agnelli, 1899), 57–8.
89 Gentile, Il culto, 301.
90 Emilio Belgioioso, Guida al famedio nel cimitero monumentale del comune di Milano
(Milan: Francesco Manini, 1887), 3.
91 Quote from a plaque within the building.
92 Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 91–6.
93 Belgioioso, Guida, 140. On similar events in Britain and France, see Laqueur, The Work
of the Dead, 334–5.
94 Belgioioso, Guida, 123. See also Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’, 46–50; Duggan,
The Force of Destiny, 177, 239–40; Körner, Politics of Culture, 123.
95 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 July 1862 (straordinaria), XCV, Camillo Boito, ‘Rapporto della
Commissione aggiudicatrice dei premi ai progetti pei due cimiteri’, Atti del Consiglio
Comunale, 13.
96 Tobia, Una patria; Lars Berggren and Lennart Sjöstedt, L’ombra dei Grandi: Monumenti
e politica monumentale a Roma (1870–1895) (Rome: Artemide, 1996).
97 Carlo Dell’Acqua and Antonio Cavagna Sangiuliani, Guida del Famedio nel cimitero
monumentale di Pavia (Pavia: Successori Bizzoni, 1897), 3–4 and 11.
98 Celso Bonomi, Nel Famedio di Pavia: Parole lette a nome della civica rappresentanza
dall’assessore Prof. Celso Bonomi, 31 Ottobre 1897 (Pavia: Fratelli Fusi, 1897), 9 and
12.
99 Atto Vannucci, I martiri della libertà italiana dal 1794 al 1848, 1st edn. (Florence: Società
Editrice Fiorentina, 1848).
100 Gabriele d’Amato, Panteon dei martiri della libertà italiana: Opera compilata da varii
letterati (Turin: Stabilimento Tipografico Fontana, 1851).
101 Tobia, Una patria, 163 and ‘Monumenti ai caduti. Dall’Italia liberale all’Italia fascista’,
in La morte, 47; Gentile, Il culto, 23–5.
102 Rubbiani, Scritti, 119. On Rubbiani’s life and politics, see: Körner, Politics of Culture,
109–14.
103 Rubbiani, Scritti, 119.
104 Gentile, Il culto, 31–6; Janz and Klinkhammer, ed., La morte, 63–156.
105 Giuliano Gresleri, ‘Architetti moderni alla Certosa: Mille solitudini profonde’, in La
Certosa di Bologna, 303–9.
106 Belgioioso, Guida, 4.
107 Guido Verucci, L’Italia laica prima e dopo l’Unità, 1848–1876: Anticlericalismo, libero
pensiero e ateismo nella società italiana (Rome: Laterza, 1981), 3–4 and 65; Martin
Papenheim, ‘Roma o Morte: Culture Wars in Italy’, in Culture Wars: Secular-Catholic
Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. Christopher Clark and Wolfram Kaiser
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 209; Manuel Borutta, ‘Anti-Catholicism
and the Culture War in Risorgimento Italy’, in The Risorgimento Revisited.
108 Papenheim, ‘Roma’, 202.
109 Verucci, L’Italia, 4–8 and 69.
110 Macry, Ottocento, 76; Fulvio Conti, Annamaria Isastia and Fiorenza Tarozzi, La morte
laica, vol. I of Storia della cremazione in Italia, 1880–1920 (Turin: Scriptorium, 1998),
95–103.
111 Macry, Ottocento, 74–6.
112 Macry, Ottocento, 76.
113 Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 252; Anna Maria Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione della
morte a Roma: Cremationisti e massoni tra Ottocento e Novecento’, Dimensione e
problemi della ricerca storica 2 (1998), 56.
114 Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione’, 56.
115 Wolfgang Krogel, All’ombra della piramide: Storia e interpretazione del cimitero acattolico
di Roma (Rome: Unione internazionale degli istituti di archeologia, storia e storia dell’arte,
1995), 59–60.
116 Lucca, Archivio Storico, Prot. Gen. 1370 del 1850, letter of 23 June 1881.
117 Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione’, 57.
118 Cagliari: Il Cimitero Monumentale di Bonaria, la sua storia, le fonti d’archivio e l’attività
artistica di Giuseppe Sartorio (Sassari: Industria Grafica Stampacolor, 1998), 20–1.
Death and Risorgimento 149
119 Alfredo Buccaro, Istituzioni e trasformazioni urbane nella Napoli dell’Ottocento (Naples:
Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 1985), 82–3.
120 Turin, Archivio Storico della Città, Carte Sciolte, n. 4815, ‘Discorso pronunziato il 30
Ottobre 1845 per la Benedizione del nuovo Campo Santo di Torino’, 30 October 1845.
121 James Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture: An Introduction to Funerary and
Commemorative Buildings in the Western European Tradition, with Some Consideration
of Their Settings (Stroud: Sutton, 2002), 299–314; Douglas Davies, ed., Encyclopaedia
of Cremation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), xviii–xxiv; Laqueur, The Work of the Dead,
495–522.
122 Piercarlo Masini, Eresie dell’Ottocento alle sorgenti laiche, umaniste e libertarie della
democrazia italiana (Milan: Editoriale Nuova, 1978), 147; Laqueur, The Work of the
Dead, 525.
123 Stevens Curl, Death and Architecture, 313–17; Davies, Encyclopaedia of Cremation,
273–5; Laqueur, The Work of the Dead, 528–30, 542.
124 Paolo Gorini, Sulla purificazione dei morti per mezzo del fuoco. Considerazioni, sperimenti
e proposte (Milan: Natale Battezzati, 1876).
125 In fact, cremation was legalised in Germany in 1879, in Britain in 1884, and in France
in 1887.
126 Gaetano Pini, ‘La cremazione dei morti. Ricordi e notizie’, Giornale della Società d’Igiene
II (1880) and La crémation en Italie et à l’étranger de 1774 jusqu’à nos jours (Milan:
Hoepli, 1885).
127 Masini, Eresie, 145; Verucci, L’Italia, 235; Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 94 and
118–24.
128 Verucci, L’Italia, 65; Borutta, ‘Anti-Catholicism’, 207. Prominent supporters of cremation
included the patriots Giosuè Carducci, Alberto Mario, Tullo Massarani and Alessandro
Gavazzi.
129 Verucci, L’Italia, 179–271; Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione’, 84–7; Davies, Encyclopaedia,
207–12.
130 On the debate surrounding cremation, see: Masini, Eresie, 145–54; Anita Malamani,
‘“Humatio vel crematio?” Voci del dibattito igienista sulla cremazione’, in Pietà pei defunti:
Storia della cremazione a Pavia tra Otto e Novecento, ed. Gigliola De Martini and Simona
Negruzzo (Pavia: Tipografia Commerciale Pavese, 2000); Marco Novarino and Luca
Prestia, Una battaglia laica: Un secolo di storia della Federazione italiana per la cremazione
(Turin: Fondazione Ariodante Fabretti, 2006), 13–24; for examples of pro-cremation
literature, see: Homunculus [Gaetano Pini], ‘La cremazione dei cadaveri’, Gazzetta di
Milano (26 September 1872); Giovanni Zucchetti, La cremazione ordinata dall’ill. e
benefico defunto Cav. Keller ci porse l’idea di pubblicare le pratiche usate dagli antichi
romani colla cerimonia solenne del rogo (Milan: Serafino Ghezzi, 1875); Gorini, Sulla
purificazione; Pini, La crémation.
131 Gorini, Sulla purificazione, 219.
132 Angelo Maestri, Inumazione o cremazione? E cenni storici sul cimitero di Pavia,
supplement to Il Patriotta 29–30 (1883); Carlo Bianchetti, Forni e sepolcri: Saggio contro
la cremazione (Turin: S. Marino, 1888).
133 Melchiorre Missirini, Pericolo di seppellire gli uomini vivi creduti morti (Milan: Carlo
Branca, 1837), 333–4; Lodovico Brunetti, Alcune osservazioni sulle precoci inumazioni
quali comunemente si usano, con qualche cenno, contro la cremazione de’ cadaveri e con
alcune proposte relative (Domodossola: Porta, 1875).
134 Augusto Guidini, Pro cinere (Milan: G. Civelli, 1881), 21; Pini, La crémation, 172.
135 ‘né eletti né elettori’, Giovanni Spadolini, L’opposizione Cattolica da Porta Pia al’ 98
(Florence: Vallecchi, 1954), 150–1 and 178–80.
136 Pini, La crémation, 28–9; Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 227–30; Lorenzo Gestri,
Le ceneri di Pisa. Storia della cremazione (Pisa: Nistri-Lischi, 2001), 24; Laqueur, The
Work of the Dead, 528–9.
137 La rivista antimassonica, quoted in Novarino and Prestia, Una battaglia, 33. That
prohibition remains in force today ‘when it is evident that cremation has been decided
upon as a denial of faith, either for propaganda purposes, or out of hatred for the Catholic
Church’ (‘De Cadaverum Crematione’, 1963, quoted in Stevens Curl, Death and
Architecture, 307).
150 Death and Risorgimento
138 Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 17 and 93.
139 Gorini, Sulla purificazione, 115.
140 Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 91–2.
141 Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 95.
142 Pini, La crémation, 14–68; Davies, Encyclopaedia, 24–8.
143 Davies, Encyclopaedia, 19.
144 Guidini, Pro cinere, 42.
145 Gorini, Sulla purificazione, 99–100; Peter Bond, ‘The Celebration of Death: Some Thoughts
on the Design of Crematoria’, Architectural Review 141, 842 (April 1967).
146 Pini, La crémation, 35.
147 Fritz Schumacher, Die Feuerbestattung (Leipzig: J.M. Gebhardt, 1939), quoted in Laqueur,
The Work of the Dead, 543.
148 Guidini, Pro cinere, 43.
149 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Carteggio amministrativo, VIII, letter of 24
October 1887. See also Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Contratti con privati, 6,
1888.
150 Pini, La crémation, 39.
151 Gorini, Sulla purificazione, 218. See also Guidini, Pro cinere, 19.
152 See Chapter 4 and Jörg Martin Merz, ‘Piramidi e Papi. Funzioni e significati della piramide
nell’architettura tra Settecento e Ottocento’, in Contro il Barocco: Apprendistato a Roma
e pratica dell’architettura civile in Italia 1780–1820, ed. Angela Cipriani, Gian Paolo
Consoli and Susanna Pasquali (Rome: Campisano, 2007), 310–14 and 317–20.
153 Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione’, 65–78; on Egyptian symbolism in Masonic architecture, see:
James Stevens Curl, The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry: An Introductory Study
(London: Batsford Ltd., 1991) and Egyptomania (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 1994), 134–5.
154 Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 109 and 148 and Isastia, ‘La laicizzazione’, 69.
155 Bologna, Archivio Storico del Comune, Carteggio amministrativo, VIII, 7, 1887; see also,
Conti, Isastia and Tarozzi, La morte, 153–8.
156 Gestri, Le ceneri, 59–67.
157 Vittorino Meneghin, S. Michele in Isola di Venezia (Venice: Stamperia di Venezia, 1962),
120.
158 Susanna Zatti, La città del silenzio: Scultura e pittura nel cimitero monumentale di Pavia,
1880–1940 (Pavia: Cardano, 1996), 25–6; De Martini and Negruzzo, ed., Pietà pei defunti.
159 Pavia, Musei Civici, Fondo Savoldi, E 12; the design of the chapel is described in: Zatti,
La città, 26 and ‘Tempio crematorio e cappella cattolica: Proposte per un progetto
architettonico inconcluso’, in Pietà pei defunti, 258.
160 Pavia, Archivio Storico Civico, Seduta del Consiglio Comunale, 4 May 1886, 66–90; Pavia,
Archivio Storico Civico, Seduta del Consiglio Comunale, 4 August 1893, 217.
161 Pavia, Musei Civici, Fondo Savoldi, E 16a.
4 Style, language and meaning

Architectural styles act as bearers of meaning – that is, they carry social, political or
other meanings that are associative, and which are rooted in history and the collective
memory.1 Cemeteries are particularly well suited to the transmission of meanings,
many of which are embedded in style. The signals carried by funerary architecture
are accentuated, partly because of the pronounced nature of the symbolic functions
of cemeteries, and the singularity of those functions with respect to human needs. As
discussed in previous chapters, Italy’s monumental cemeteries were invested with
sociopolitical significance, and meanings associated with the aggrandizement of the
middle classes, the establishment of the nation state, the construction of an Italian
identity, and the resultant power struggles between local, national, secular and clerical
forces. Architectural styles played a part in the redistribution of power in that they
conveyed a range of different signals relating to the ‘politics of representation’. For
instance, style in Italian burial grounds was used to signify the cultural and socio-
economic prominence of bourgeois entrepreneurs, the political ambitions of municipal
councils and the staunch conservatism of a local clergy. During the 1800s, stylistic
change in funerary design mirrored shifts in the balance of power within Italian society
and the emergent nation. It also paralleled the evolution of Italian architecture, largely
because both were underpinned by the same political and social conditions.
The stylistic development of Italian funerary architecture during the nineteenth
century may be divided into two broad phases that were roughly separated by the
unification of Italy in 1860. During the first phase, that is from the beginning of the
century until unification, funerary architecture was initially dominated by neo-
classicism. Before 1815, it frequently took the form of academic projects that were
rooted in associations with France. However, the fall of Napoleon marked the end
of the primacy of French culture in Italy.2 After the Restoration, and with the gradual
emergence of Italian nationalism, both academic and built projects expressed a greater
interest in native historical sources, as designers adopted a form of neoclassicism that
was evidently Italian in its sources and architectural vocabulary.3 In areas under
Austrian rule, the adoption of ancient Roman sources expressed a sense of belonging
to an Italian culture. Later, in the period after 1860 and the unification of Italy, the
evolution of funerary architecture resulted in the introduction of non-classical styles,
and a rise in interest in local sources, eclecticism and medievalism. As regionalism
was a driving force behind the emergence of local styles, the period beyond the
establishment of a unified Italy may also be understood in terms of tensions engendered
by the juxtaposition of national and local patriotism. Political change contributed to
the transition between different styles and the abandonment of unsuitable architectural
152 Style, language and meaning
Table 4.1 Dominant styles and models in nineteenth-century Italian cemeteries

neoclassicism

pyramid

Pantheon

medievalism

1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900
Source: The author (2016)

languages. Throughout the nineteenth century, evidence of a strong interest in questions


relating to style and funerary architecture emerged in contemporary literature, the
press and the records of local councils. As the nature of that interest shows how debates
relating to style reflected political concerns, this chapter presents an exploration of
how the architecture of nineteenth-century Italian cemeteries developed in response
to momentous changes in Italy’s political structures.

Classicism from Napoleon to the nation state, 1800–1861


Whereas the tendency towards classicism prevailed prior to Italian unity, over time,
there was a shift from pluralism to a narrower range of sources. In the early 1800s,
the influence of France and academic funerary design resulted in Italian ‘paper projects’
that were based on an archaeological approach to ancient models, both native and
foreign. In addition to Roman antiquity and the Pantheon, particular preference was
accorded to the architecture of ancient Egypt and to the pyramid as an ancient burial
place, as exemplified by the tomb of Gaius Cestius built in 18–12 BC in the Testaccio
area of Rome, which provided an impressive backdrop to the non-Catholic cemetery
established after 1716.4
As a pure form, the pyramid was seen to be associated with divinity and immortality
– a factor that contributed to its popularity within European funerary design and its
use, since the sixteenth century, in the commemoration of royalty, heroes and the
papacy. Pyramids were commonplace in the funerary architecture of eighteenth-
century Italy and France and, in 1781, the authoritative architectural theorist Francesco
Milizia recommended that a cemetery should include a ‘rustic pyramid’ as the main
chapel.5 That format can be found in a visionary paper project created, around 1800,
by the Venetian architect Giannantonio Selva (1751–1819) and entitled ‘Cemetery
Style, language and meaning 153

Figure 4.1 Rome, tomb of Gaius Cestius, 18–12 BC and non-Catholic cemetery, ca. 1716
Source: The author (2012)

for a City of a Hundred Thousand’, which comprised a pyramid as its centrepiece


and carried the motto ‘Life is a dream’.6 The pyramid was often combined with a
podium and multiple temple-fronts, as in the Hellenistic mausoleum of Halicarnassus,
a historical reference that passed from French academic funerary architecture of the
1700s to later Italian projects.7 Thus, in altered and simplified form, that model
provided the basis for a funerary chapel designed in 1815 for the municipal cemetery
in Brescia. Other additional Egyptian features were also adopted in Italian funerary
design, as in the neo-Egyptian portals in Selva’s project of 1808 for the San Michele
cemetery in Venice.

The abandonment of Egyptian models


Egyptian motifs persisted in Italian funerary architecture throughout the 1800s, as
evidenced by a tomb of 1876 in the monumental cemetery in Milan comprising a
pyramid, a sphinx and a female figure in Egyptian dress (see Figure 4.3). However,
after the Restoration in 1815, a number of factors weighed against the employment
of Egyptian elements. In the eyes of many, the pyramid carried associations with
Jacobinism, Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (1798–1801), and major public projects
that were proposed during the French occupation of Italy.8 Those projects included,
for example, the unrealised Monument to the Fallen (1798), an iconic French design
by the architect Giovanni Antonio Antolini (1756–1841) for Milan, which was to
feature eight pyramids. Equally, in 1813, Napoleon launched a competition for a
154 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.2 Brescia, monumental cemetery, Bossini family chapel, 1815


Source: The author (2011)

monument to be erected on Mount Cenis in Savoy to commemorate his victory at


the Battle of Wurtchen (1813). Although that project was not realised, of 18 sub-
missions considered by the judges at least eight incorporated the pyramid as a form
that was considered to be appropriate to the celebration of the Napoleonic Empire.
A design submitted by Giannantonio Selva, which centred on a pyramid, was acknow-
ledged by Selva in a letter to the sculptor Antonio Canova (1757–1822) to embody
‘the idea of a sepulchral monument’.9 In short, whether in funerary or commemorative
architecture, the pyramid was adopted as the favoured format to preserve the memory
of French power.
Beyond the period of French influence (1796–1814), the tendency in Italian
architecture known as purismo meant that foreign influences were shunned as architects
looked to native models, and particularly to sources dating from classical antiquity
and the Renaissance.10 The cultural and political forces that underpinned purismo
embodied a reaction against both Egyptian vocabularies and French oppression.
In addition, the use of a neo-Egyptian style was hampered by associations with the
burial of Protestants, atheists and Freemasons.11 The shift away from Egyptian models
was by no means exclusive to Italy. The French architectural theorist Quatremère de
Quincy presented Egyptian architecture as an appropriate model in 1785, but in 1832
he dismissed pyramids as useless symbols of despotism that were ‘alien to the customs
of modern people’.12 Following his ‘conversion’ to monarchism during the Reign of
Style, language and meaning 155

Figure 4.3 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, Bruni family tomb, Angelo Colla and Giulio
Monteverde, 1876
Source: The author (2009)

Terror (1793–1794), Quatremère de Quincy advocated a conservative approach to


classicism, and rejected elements of funerary design that were associated with
revolutionary France, as exemplified by the neo-Egyptian funerary projects created by
Etienne-Louis Boullée (1728–1799) in the 1780s. Quatremère de Quincy’s writings
were highly influential in Italy, where they suited a post-Restoration tendency to eschew
the ‘revolutionary’ style of French neoclassicism. The enduring impact of that tendency
is evidenced by the fact that, in 1867, the inclusion of a pyramid in a funerary project
for Padua was dismissed as ‘an unfortunate idea’, which, despite its ubiquity in
eighteenth-century funerary projects, was said to have ‘failed to gain favour even then’.13
156 Style, language and meaning
The abandonment of a neo-Egyptian style in favour of Greco-Roman classicism
was reflected in the nature of architectural competitions. In 1817, the architect Luigi
Voghera, who was later to design the cemetery of Cremona (1821), was awarded first
prize in a competition for a mausoleum set by the Brera Academy in Milan because
‘in creating his design, he looked neither to the pyramids of Egypt, nor to Asian
monuments’, but ‘adopted ancient Roman mausolea as his model’.14 Equally, in 1835,
the programme of the Concorso Clementino of the Roman Academy of St Luke invited
designs for a cemetery ‘with a character appropriate to the severity and dignity of
its function and hence only the Greek style or the Roman style from the century
of Augustus are to be employed’.15
Shifting stylistic preferences also affected the design of monumental cemeteries.
An unrealised project, created in 1827 by the architect Gaetano Lombardi for the
monumental cemetery in Turin, incorporated a pyramid at its centre in line with
eighteenth-century customs. However, a later project by the same architect swapped
the pyramid for a design that was reminiscent of the ancient Roman Pantheon in that
it juxtaposed a cylindrical body with a saucer dome (see Figure 4.5). Whereas that
later project retained some Egyptian features, such as a portal with inclined jambs
decorated by a winged sphinx-head, those influences were purged from the final
design. The last project, built from 1828, was resolutely classical in that it combined
the cylindrical core of the Pantheon with an engaged, Roman Doric portico (see
Catalogue 23).
In 1827, the architect Giuseppe Jappelli (1783–1852) created a project for a new
cemetery in Padua that recalled earlier French prototypes in that it included Egyptian
portals, but also incorporated a centrepiece with four Greek Doric temple-fronts (see
Figure 4.6). Jappelli’s project was rejected by the local council on the grounds that it
was inconvenient and expensive, and in 1837 the commission was given instead to
the municipal engineer Giuseppe Maestri who produced a conventional design centred
on a chapel that was based on the Pantheon.16
Similarly, in Genoa in 1833, the architect Carlo Barabino created a project for the
main chapel of the Staglieno cemetery that consisted of an orthogonal base with a
Greek-cross plan topped by a pyramidal superstructure. During his training in Rome
(1788–1797), Barabino participated in competitions set by the Roman Academy of
St Luke, where he may have seen a comparable project for a mausoleum (ca. 1757)
that was submitted as a dono accademico, or morçeau de reception, by the French
architect Pierre-Louis-Philippe de La Guêpière (ca. 1715–1773).17 Whether or not there
is any direct influence, Barabino’s design for the Staglieno set its roots in eighteenth-
century France. Despite being approved in 1833, the project was discarded after
Barabino’s death from cholera in 1835 and the final design, of 1844, by Barabino’s
pupil Giovanni Battista Resasco (1799–1872) adopted the Pantheon as the model
for the main chapel (see Figure 3.7 in Chapter 3). Previously, the origins of the
Pantheon-based design have been attributed to Resasco, but a drawing found among
Barabino’s papers shows that he had also entertained the idea of a Pantheon-based
chapel.18 In fact, Barabino considered both Egyptian and Roman formats as possible
sources, but his pupil favoured the model of the Pantheon. Similarly, the abandonment
of neo-Egyptian sources marked the passage of an older generation, as the architect
Carlo Amati (1776–1852) centred a funerary project of 1802 around a pyramid,
while his nephew Marco Amati chose the Pantheon as the basis for a cemetery design
of 1835.19
Style, language and meaning 157

Figure 4.4 Turin, monumental cemetery, project for main chapel, Gaetano Lombardi, early
1827
Source: Courtesy of Turin, Archivio Storico della Città di Torino, Tipi e disegni, 7.1.10
158 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.5 Turin, monumental cemetery, project for main chapel, Gaetano Lombardi, June
1827
Source: Courtesy of Turin, Archivio Storico della Città di Torino, Tipi e disegni, 7.1.4
Style, language and meaning 159

Figure 4.6 Padua, project for a cemetery, Giuseppe Jappelli, 1827


Source: Courtesy of Padua, Archivio di Stato (concessione n. 5/2015, prot. n. 2092 Cl. 28.13.07/1.2 del
16/06/2015), Atti comunali, Sanità, b. 1154, n. 18

The renunciation of Egyptian models was paralleled by the abandonment of the


circular plan, as a form for cemeteries that derived from hygienic concerns and an
interest in geometry, which were characteristic of eighteenth-century French funerary
design. In the 1820s, the last of Luigi Trezza’s circular plans for the cemetery of Verona
was superseded by a rectangular design created by Giuseppe Barbieri. This was in line
with Austrian legislation of 1818 that required new cemeteries in Lombardy and
Venetia to be square or rectangular in plan – which may have been aimed at the
elimination of associations with revolutionary France.20 A report presented to the
municipality of Pavia in 1867 dismissed the circular format as unfeasible and ill-suited
to cemetery design.21

The Pantheon as paradigm


While, in the wake of the Restoration, Egyptian models were pushed to the sidelines,
the Pantheon came to the fore as the source par excellence of Italian funerary
architecture. In short, the period after 1815 marked the beginning of a transition from
ancient and Egyptian sources to the Pantheon as the seat of sentiments associated
with an evolving political order.22 The Pantheon projected meanings that were broadly
commemorative and ecclesiastical, and which reflected a return to hierarchy and
religion. At another level, it offered the advantage of a native architectural tradition
160 Style, language and meaning

untainted by associations with the French, and could satisfy an emergent interest in
Italian architectural models. In Amico Ricci’s popular history of Italian architecture
(1857–1859), the Pantheon is mentioned as an influential native model.23 Thus, for
instance, French plans of 1813 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier to embellish Rome
and transform the Pincian Hill into a public garden, which included a pyramid with
four temple-fronts, were abandoned after the withdrawal of the Napoleonic regime
in 1814.24 Meanwhile, an international competition was launched for a monument
to mark the victory over Napoleon and the ‘triumph of Christian Religion’, and the
Pincian Hill was favoured as a possible location because of its association with the
French.25 The brief for the competition demanded two projects, of which one was to
be pyramidal in form, perhaps with the intention to subvert both the site and a format
favoured by the previous regime. Despite his previous involvement with the French
administration, Valadier submitted a project in response to the competition and it
appears that he recycled his earlier, pyramidal design. In addition, he presented an
alternative proposal that was loosely based on the Pantheon, and which incorporated
a cylindrical superstructure, a saucer dome and a temple-front.26 As the competition
had no outcome, it is impossible to know whether Valadier’s proposal found favour
with the restored powers.

Figure 4.7 Rome, project for ‘Monument to the Glory of the Monarchs’, Giuseppe Valadier,
?1814
Source: Courtesy of Rome, Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte, Fondo Lanciani, Roma XI, 100,
vol. 1, 78
Style, language and meaning 161

The remarkable popularity of the Pantheon in the funerary and ecclesiastical archi-
tecture of nineteenth-century Italy has been attributed by the architectural historian
Carroll Meeks (1907–1966) and others to its formal qualities, its ‘amenability’ to a
process of selective imitation and its value as a source of pure geometric forms.27
However, its popularity was also due to the cultural and ideological values associated
with its architecture. That the Pantheon was appropriate to political conditions after
the Restoration is evidenced, for example, by the construction of the Church of San
Francesco da Paola in Naples in 1817–1831 by the restored Bourbon monarch,
Ferdinand IV.28 In 1808, when Napoleon’s brother-in-law Joachim Murat (1767–
1815) was crowned King of Naples, he ordered the demolition of the churches
opposite the royal palace with the aim of creating a piazza that was to be named
Foro Murat. Although largely incomplete when the Murat government fell in 1814,
Ferdinand IV sought to reappropriate the piazza by changing its name to Foro
Ferdinandeo. The Church of San Francesco da Paola, which was based by the architect
Paolo Bianchi (1787–1849) on the model of the Pantheon, was built as the centrepiece
of the piazza to thank God for the triumph of the old order and to provide a dynastic
chapel for the Bourbon monarchs. It is but one example of a flurry of Pantheon-based
churches that were built across Italy after the Restoration.
Politically, the sense of history and tradition afforded by Pantheon suited the
restored powers. That its popularity endured beyond the Restoration, throughout
the Risorgimento, and after the establishment of the nation state, might be ascribed
largely to its associations with ancient Rome and Italy’s glorious past. The architect
Luigi Cagnola, who is thought to have opted for native models on patriotic grounds,
adopted the Pantheon as a model for both an unrealised project of 1809 for a
monumental cemetery to be built in Milan, and for a church that was initiated in
1822 in Ghisalba, near Bergamo.29 In addition to its political affiliations, the Pantheon
carried meanings that were sacred, as expressed by its central plan, its functions, its

Figure 4.8 Naples, Church of San Francesco da Paola, Paolo Bianchi, 1817–1831
Source: The author (2012)
162 Style, language and meaning

history as a classical temple and its conversion to a Christian church. Within a secular
or multi-denominational public cemetery, a chapel in the format of the Pantheon
represented a departure from the traditional cruciform plan and a somewhat
‘neutralised’ religious symbol. After Rome’s annexation to Italy in 1870, the Pantheon
also gained significance as a contested space in the power struggles between Italy’s
new rulers and the Church.30 Its importance as a national icon was enhanced in 1878
when the Pantheon in Rome was chosen as the burial place of the first King of united
Italy, Victor Emanuel II (1820–1878), instead of the traditional resting place of the
Savoy monarchs at Superga near Turin. The choice of location was partly motivated
by a desire to wrest the Pantheon from Vatican control, to convert a church into a
national monument, and to cast the monarchy, rather than the papacy, as the legitimate
heir to imperial Rome. The royal funeral was a grandiose media event, which was
re-enacted on the yearly anniversary of the king’s death, and was intended to help
shift the symbolic centre of Savoy rule from Piedmont to Rome, and to associate the
Pantheon with national patriotism.31 Thus, the Pantheon was adopted as an emblem
of the Church by restored rulers who resisted the process of national unification and
by supporters of the Risorgimento in their conflicts with the clergy – which illustrates
the variability of architectural associations that can be tied to one architectural object.
In effect, the Pantheon reflected both the political conditions linked with the estab-
lishment of the Italian nation state and the compromises that defined relationships
between secular powers and the Church.
The Pantheon influenced the form adopted for the main chapels in a remarkable
number of nineteenth-century Italian cemeteries, including Brescia (1815), Lucca
(1823), Trento (1826), Verona (1828), Turin (1828), Como (ca. 1850), Modena (1858),
Genoa (1861) and Livorno (1891) (see Figure 3.7 in Chapter 3 and Figure 4.10,

Figure 4.9 Modena, monumental cemetery, main chapel, Cesare Costa, 1858
Source: The author (2012)
Style, language and meaning 163
Catalogues 5, 11, 23 and 25). Unrealised or uncompleted projects for cemeteries in
Cremona (1821), Milan (1835), Padua (1844) and Rome (1847) also incorporated
chapels that were modelled on the Pantheon.32 Although subject to many variations,
the use of a cylindrical body faced by a temple-front and capped by a shallow dome
provided a common starting point and a recognisable source of shared meanings – as
evidenced by a description of the cemetery of Cremona, written in 1842, which states
that ‘the shape of the church is round to resemble the Pantheon in Rome’.33 The influence
of the Pantheon was also felt in academic projects, such as the design for a cemetery
created by Francesco Durelli for a competition set by the Brera Academy in Milan in
1820.34 A number of funerary projects submitted to the Concorso Clementino of the
Academy of St Luke in Rome between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
merged the cylindrical body of the Pantheon with four projecting temple-fronts, which
echoed Andrea Palladio’s Villa Rotonda (1567) (see Figure 1.6 in Chapter 1).35 The
combined use of the Pantheon and the Villa Rotonda is also illustrated in an influential
sketch (dated before 1795) for a cemetery that depicts a Pantheon-like structure with
multiple temple-fronts, encircled by a porticoed enclosure that is broken by pyramids.36
Other projects juxtaposed a rectangular core, reminiscent of the Villa Rotonda, with
a dome and a single temple-front.37 Whatever the variations, the ubiquity of the
Pantheon in academic funerary design is evidence of its symbolic value.
In adopting the Pantheon as a model, some designers omitted the attic, perhaps to
give greater emphasis to the relationship between the cylindrical core and the temple-
front, or in response to an appetite for geometric purity (see Figure 3.7 in Chapter 3
and Figure 4.10). Equally, the twin bell towers known as ‘ass ears’, which were
added to the Pantheon in 1626 and demolished in 1883, were generally ignored.38
Significantly, a number of chapels built in nineteenth-century Italian cemeteries
swapped the Corinthian order of the Pantheon for the Doric of the Parthenon, thereby
combining references to two of the most important buildings of antiquity. The brief
of a competition set by the Brera Academy in Milan in 1817 demanded a mausoleum
in a Greek style, and underlined the sombre nature of the Doric order and its appro-
priateness to funerary architecture.39 Indeed, in 1854, the writer Giuseppe Rovani
noted that the Corinthian order was ill-suited to a Christian cemetery in that it lacked
a ‘lugubrious appearance’, although in a competition set by the Brera Academy in
1820 a project by Francesco Durelli was said to have won ‘despite the employment
of the Corinthian order’.40
With respect to Italy’s monumental cemeteries, the tendency to draw simultaneously
from the Pantheon and the Parthenon may have originated with the creation of
the main chapel of the municipal cemetery at Brescia, which was initiated in 1815
under the architect Rodolfo Vantini. The use of both sources may also be traced to
the Canova Temple (built in 1819–1831), which was donated by the sculptor Antonio
Canova to his native village of Possagno.41 As the construction of Vantini’s project
ran from 1815 until the 1830s, the original design may have been altered to follow
the model of Canova’s Temple. Moreover, whereas the design of Possagno’s ‘temple’
is attributed to Canova, the partie was probably provided by his friend Giannantonio
Selva, who was in contact with Vantini.42 As the works of Canova gained support
with subsequent generations, his ‘temple’ was adopted as an icon of national pride,
and was influential in the creation of chapels in the cemeteries of Trento (1826), Verona
(1828), Livorno (1891) and particularly Genoa (1861) (see Figure 3.7 in Chapter 3,
Catalogues 11 and 25).43
164 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.10 Brescia, monumental cemetery, main chapel, Rodolfo Vantini, 1815
Source: The author (2012)

Figure 4.11 Possagno, Canova Temple, 1819–1831


Source: mrlov (P1070329) [CC BY-SA 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia
Commons
Style, language and meaning 165

Neoclassicism and its centripetal effect


In the period between the Restoration and Italian unification (1815–1860), the
dominance of neoclassicism, the Pantheon and other common sources lent a relative
uniformity to Italian funerary architecture. In 1855, one observer remarked that
‘although many [of the cemeteries] that were built recently in various Italian cities
are praiseworthy, they do not differ greatly from one another, as . . . all are composed
of porticoes, colonnades and arches’.44 Prior to 1815, a degree of individuality
was evidenced, for example, by the Certosa cemetery in Bologna (1801), which
incorporated architectural elements that were variously neoclassical or late baroque,
and work that resulted from local artistic traditions that involved stucco, fresco
painting and scagliola, or the practice of imitating marble on plastered surfaces.
However, the nature of those crafts was at odds with the neoclassical insistence on
form rather than surface, and on sculpture and monochromy as opposed to painting
and colour. Hence, from 1816, members of the local Clementina Academy, in
agreement with Bologna’s city council, vetted private funerary monuments prior
to their construction in the Certosa in order to ensure adherence to the principles of
neoclassicism.45 As a consequence, monochromatic forms and sculpture prevailed and
some of the earlier polychromatic decorations were painted over with white paint.
It is tempting to view the unifying effects of neoclassicism in Italian cemeteries as
an expression of broad political pressures associated with the Risorgimento. Yet, Italian
neoclassicism embodied significant regional variations that reflected a need to express
local political and cultural identities. Given that the creation of a public cemetery
offered municipal councils an opportunity to assert their authority, local patriotism
vied with nationalist sentiments. Thus, at the Staglieno cemetery (1844), the use of
the Greek Doric order may have served as a reference to the once independent
Republic of Genoa, which was transformed into the Francophile Republic of Liguria
in 1798, annexed to the Napoleonic Empire in 1805, and subjected to the Savoy
Kingdom from 1815 against the wishes of most of the population (see Figure 3.7 in
Chapter 3).46 Given its associations with Greece and democracy, the Doric order was
also adopted at Staglieno in 1872 for the tomb of the Republican patriot Giuseppe
Mazzini, which became a shrine to local Republican traditions (see Figure 3.6 in
Chapter 3). As at Genoa, the architecture of Verona’s monumental cemetery (1828)
reflected a basic preference for local sources and particularly for the work of the
Renaissance architect Michele Sanmicheli (1484–1559), which the cemetery’s designer,
Giuseppe Barbieri, had occasion to study in depth.47 By modelling the entrance to the
cemetery on gateways that were designed by Sanmicheli for Verona, Barbieri reinforced
the suggestion that the cemetery was akin to the city (as explored in Chapter 2). The
decision to reference the work of ‘our immortal Sanmicheli’ may also have sprung
from a common tendency to bolster municipal and civic identities by merging
neoclassicism with local architectural elements.48 Similarly, in Rome, when charged
by Pope Pius IX with the design of the Verano cemetery in 1855, the architect Virginio
Vespignani (1808–1882) looked to local models.49 Whereas the general framework
of the Verano cemetery (1859–1864) incorporated elements of local Renaissance
architecture, the main chapel (begun in 1860) was modelled closely on the nearby
early Christian Basilica of San Lorenzo – a reference that rooted the cemetery in the
surrounding area and conveyed a distinctly Roman character (see Figures 2.6 and 2.7
in Chapter 2).
166 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.12 Verona, monumental cemetery, entrance, Giuseppe Barbieri, 1828


Source: The author (2012)

In the early phase of the development of Italy’s monumental cemeteries, between


the Restoration and Italian unification, styles changed in parallel with the political
evolution of a divided nation. After 1815, Italian funerary design adopted a narrower
stylistic palette as French definitions of neoclassicism, academic projects, Egyptian
motifs and the pyramid gave way to the Pantheon and to the use of Italian models.
Until the establishment of the new Italy in 1861, an essential Greco-Roman classicism
dominated the architecture of Italian cemeteries and the adherence to a limited range
of sources resulted in a degree of homogeneity within funerary architecture. However,
that tendency towards uniformity was offset by the urge to maintain regional identities
through the use of local architectural sources – a factor that expressed the fragmented
nature of a nation where unifying forces were balanced by competing urban and
regional interests.

National unity and stylistic dissolution


Unification brought marked changes in Italian funerary architecture. Before 1860, the
cemeteries of a politically divided Italy were relatively homogeneous due to the
popularity of a Greco-Roman vocabulary. After unification, they became much more
varied as neoclassicism gave way to an eclectic range of historical styles. Essentially,
the meanings associated with neoclassicism had no footing in Italy’s new political
order. Although the Pantheon had provided the ideological basis for the design of
Style, language and meaning 167
many cemetery chapels after the Restoration, by the late nineteenth century, it no
longer served as a pervasive model in Italian funerary architecture. In retrospect, it
was seen by the architect Augusto Guidini as a source of mindless imitation in what
he described, in 1881, as ‘a cynical and superficial era’ in which architects lacking in
civic pride ‘toyed with the magnificent temple-front of the Pantheon’.50 As this
suggests, by the late 1800s, the imitation of antiquity was taken to be inadequate in
the light of current political and cultural conditions.
The straitjacket of neoclassicism, which in the nation’s cemeteries loosened around
the time of independence, had already been abandoned in other areas of Italian
architecture. While that abandonment was symptomatic of cultural changes in a
unifying Italy, it was also part of wider developments in the architecture of nineteenth-
century Europe.51 From the early 1800s, romanticism brought the idea that, in every
nation, each era should have its own style, which should always express the spirit of
the age. That style was thought to emerge from immediate and contingent factors
such as site, function, materials and construction, rather than from the arbitrary and
abstract dictates of neoclassicism. The rationalism of the Enlightenment, of the
objective and the absolute, lost ground to that which was subjective and relative. In
particular, medieval styles were seen to respond not to classical harmonies, but to a
romantic sensibility.52 Moreover, the shift towards stylistic plurality was underpinned
by the aesthetics of the picturesque and by an emphasis on individual perception and
‘natural’ irregularity that, from the eighteenth century, subverted the geometrical order
of classicism. It was also backed by the idea that the meanings embodied in style must
be appropriate to the building’s function and context. Throughout Europe, from the
1820s, stylistic appropriateness outweighed the preordained authority of classicism.
The classical rulebook was discarded in the search for new styles, although, due to
the entrenchment of the classical tradition, that trend did not mature in Italy until
the mid-1800s.
The abandonment of classicism brought the dilemma of choosing a style, which
was further complicated around the 1840s by the injunction that styles were required
to be morally correct. In nineteenth-century Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, architectural
theory was concerned for the validity, or appropriateness, of the values and meanings
associated with particular styles.53 Debates, which were played out in the press and
through architectural competitions, often took the form of a conflict between elders
who upheld the primacy of classicism, and emergent romantics who promoted
medievalism. While in the 1830s–1850s classicism and medievalism were the main
options, greater pluralism emerged from the mid-nineteenth century. Some saw
eclecticism, or the synchronic coexistence of different styles chosen to suit different
contexts, as a solution to the dilemma of stylistic choice. Others advocated revivalism
and the development of a universal, and truly appropriate, style. Across Europe,
revivalism drew energy from nationalism and efforts to create a unifying national style,
which, in Italy, were driven by allied ambitions for unity and independence.54 However,
instead of encouraging uniformity, revivalism exacerbated the heterogeneity of Italian
architecture, as local ambitions to influence the creation of a national, or dominant,
style encouraged the promotion of regional architectural traditions. In Italy, monu-
mental cemeteries were at the centre of debates about style and nationhood because
of their capacity to represent communities and their status as a new architectural type.
Thus, after unification, funerary architecture became a battleground for stylistic
conflicts that were underpinned by local and patriotic sentiments.
168 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.13 Messina, Gran Camposanto, main chapel, Leone Savoja, 1865
Source: Courtesy of Gavin Stamp (2016)
Style, language and meaning 169

As romanticism and nationalism shaped Italian cemeteries in the aftermath of


unification, the revival of Gothic, Romanesque, Byzantine, Renaissance and other styles
brought about an ‘eclecticism of taste’, or the adoption of different styles for different
buildings, and an ‘eclecticism of style’, or the synthesis of different styles within an
individual building or tomb.55 In cemeteries established before unification, there might
be disparities between private tombs and an overall architectural format, but the main
buildings were generally in a neoclassical style. Beyond the 1860s, however, an
‘eclecticism of taste’ emerged, for example, at the monumental cemetery at Messina
(begun in 1865), where the architect Leone Savoja (1815–1875) juxtaposed an
entrance and honourable burial place in a classical style with a neo-Gothic chapel
that drew on the religious connotations of medievalism (see Figure 3.8 in Chapter 3).
Conversely, the Monumentale cemetery in Milan (1863) demonstrates an ‘eclecticism
of style’ in that it combines Byzantine and Romanesque elements within the same
building (see Figure 4.18). The impact of eclecticism on funerary design was such
that, in 1872, the architect Camillo Boito lamented that ‘we expose ourselves’ to so
many styles ‘like a courtesan who catches a cold’.56
The emergence of greater stylistic freedom in the late 1800s was allied to changes
in the layout of Italian burial grounds. Whereas the neoclassical cemeteries of the
early nineteenth century generally embodied a unified, axial and homogeneous layout,
as exemplified by Brescia’s monumental cemetery (see Catalogue 2), the abandonment
of neoclassicism brought the development of less rigid layouts, which accommodated
a broader range of free-standing chapels and tombs. Between the 1860s and the end
of the century, the use of different architectural languages was accompanied by a
loosening of underlying plans. Pluralism also resulted in a dissonance between the
architectural frame and individual tombs, and greater heterogeneity, whether defined

Figure 4.14 Milan, Monumentale cemetery


Source: The author (2009)
170 Style, language and meaning
as the dissolution of aesthetic homogeneity or the variety of meanings transmitted by
the different styles. In addition, the employment of new and varied styles was paralleled
by a gradual increase in the average size of private tombs, which exacerbated the
overall sense of stylistic heterogeneity as they vied for prominence. The growing size
and autonomy of private monuments was indicative of social change, the increasing
wealth and status of Italy’s middle classes and their adoption of the edicola, or free-
standing chapel, as a favoured format. Meanwhile, greater diversity in the design of
private tombs followed from the revival of Assyrian, Egyptian, Renaissance, medieval
and classical styles – a list that lengthened at the turn of the twentieth century as
designers adopted art nouveau, known in Italy as stile liberty.

Medievalism in the newly unified Italy


The most important stylistic innovation within Italian cemeteries after unification was
medievalism. Following their reappearance in the early 1700s, medieval styles rose to
prominence in the context of European romanticism, largely thanks to associations
with idealism, religion, nature and ‘truth’ – values that could be mobilised in support
of nationalist claims and imperialist ambitions, which were carried on the myth of a
national and medieval architectural tradition. In late nineteenth-century Germany,
Scandinavia and parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, medieval vocabularies were
deployed in ‘national romantic’ architecture with the aim of forging collective identities
for emergent nation states.57 Equally, in Italy, medieval architecture was central to the
search for a national culture.58 Italians associated medievalism with the struggle for
independence, and looked to the Middle Ages rather than to the cosmopolitan Roman
Empire as the source of a distinctly Italian character. Whereas Roman classicism was
dismissed as being both too local and too international to act as a national style,
medievalism was associated with the freedom of the city states, with the roots of Italian
architecture, and with a critical period in the development of Italy’s identity.59
From the 1830s, a number of Italian medievalists joined debates that were raging
in Britain, France and elsewhere, notably the architectural theorists Pietro Selvatico
(1803–1880) and Camillo Boito (1836–1914), whose work had a direct impact on
funerary design.60 As a Catholic, Selvatico echoed A.W.N. Pugin’s appreciation of the
sacred character of medievalism. Selvatico’s guide to Venice (1847) is thought to have
influenced John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) in that it idealises
Venetian Gothic on moral grounds.61 For his part, Selvatico’s pupil Camillo Boito
espoused functionalism as defined in Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s Entretiens sur
l’architecture (1862–1873) and promoted Romanesque on the basis of its rational
structure.62 Although medievalism came late to Italy, its Italian manifestation was not
an offshoot of foreign models.63 Within the context of the Risorgimento, Italian
medievalism acquired a distinctly heroic character, which deviated from the British
tendency towards nostalgia and the rationalist approach prevalent in France. In a
lecture given in 1856 at the Academy in Venice, Selvatico exhorted young architects
to abandon the study of antiquity and to embrace medieval styles that were:

representative of the traditions, customs, [and] ideals, which we hold in our hearts
because they belonged to the vocabulary of our fathers; and which are therefore
worthy to act as ornaments to a country that was once cradle to a great
civilisation.64
Style, language and meaning 171
Thus, while medievalism was associated with patriotism and Italy’s cultural heritage,
it was also promoted for its ‘ethical’ values in terms of the truthful use of materials,
the accurate representation of structural forces, and associations with the idealism
and religious ethos of the Middle Ages.65 Underlying forces that were both cultural
and ideological in nature stemmed from the emergence of new political conditions
and from the employment of architecture in the redistribution of power within
unifying Italy. Boito, who opposed the Austrian occupiers, was forced to quit Venice
to avoid arrest in 1859. After unification, he endorsed medievalism as the basis for
‘the living architecture of a renewed, independent and free Italy’.66 He held classical,
ancient and Renaissance models to be derivative, and wedded to traditions established
under French occupation in the early 1800s. For Boito and Selvatico, the path to a
national architecture lay not in the full-blown revival of a past style, but in the evolution
of new forms from medieval prototypes. To that end, native traditions were to be
studied, excised of foreign influences, and adapted to suit modern needs. Basically,
medievalism was seen to advance and regenerate Italian architecture by looking to
the past.
There was an inherent contradiction in seeking unity in the Middle Ages when the
nation was still fragmented and divided into conflicting city states.67 Moreover, as
different regions had distinctive medieval traditions, there was the problem of collating
a unified style from local variants of Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic traditions.
Selvatico perceived medieval architecture as an organic whole, declaring that ‘all our
national medieval styles [are] beautiful’.68 That approach was intended to offer a
framework through which to create a national architecture from a synthesis of local
medieval styles. It promoted an eclectic, or pick and mix, medievalism as a way to
achieve unity while respecting regional differences. Similarly, Carlo Cattaneo, the
patriot and founder of the journal Il Politecnico in which Boito’s articles appeared,
advocated federalism as an instrument of unity.69 Conversely, in 1872, Boito argued
that one medieval style should be selected as the basis for a new architecture, and he
recommended fourteenth-century Lombard Romanesque for its adaptability and
prevalence within different regions.70 While Boito acknowledged the difficulties of
extending medieval vocabularies to regions dominated by other traditions, such
as classicism in Rome and the Renaissance in Tuscany, he credited Romanesque with
the potential to ‘absorb’ local styles. In practice, however, Boito’s approach eschewed
centralisation and embraced regional variations. His own designs oscillated between
a purified interpretation of Lombard Romanesque and a rich and eclectic medievalism,
which suggests that his ambitions for a unified style gave way to the public’s taste for
an ornate eclecticism.71 In any case, the problem of which medieval tradition might
beget a national architecture remained unresolved and ultimately the High Renaissance,
rather than the Middle Ages, acted as the main source for the architecture of newly
unified Italy between 1865 and 1900.72
Although medieval styles penetrated Italian architecture in the 1830s, initially they
tended to be restricted to churches, villas and garden pavilions.73 The continuing
dominance of neoclassicism meant that only a limited number of neo-medieval tombs
were built in Italian burial grounds around the middle of the nineteenth century. There
was one notable exception in the form of a neo-Gothic Conventino (1842), or little
convent, which was built in the Poggioreale cemetery in Naples to house the friars
who administered burial services.
172 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.15 Naples, Poggioreale cemetery, Conventino, 1842


Source: The author (2012)

Designed in the late 1830s, the Conventino was highly innovative, particularly in
that the first major building of the Gothic revival in Italy is generally thought to be
the Pedrocchino, a pastry shop designed by Giuseppe Jappelli in 1837 alongside the
Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua. As noted in 1839, ‘some condemned the elegance and grace
[of the Conventino], thinking it better suited as an ornament of beautiful gardens,
[and] lacking the appearance of a place of penitence and prayer’.74 According to a
contemporary critic, a ‘dignified and severe’ style, such as the Greek Doric that was
adopted elsewhere in the cemetery, would have been more appropriate.75 Such
comments reflected the resistance to non-classical styles and the resulting persistence
of neoclassicism in the main buildings and frameworks of Italian cemeteries before
1861. Later, unification brought marked changes in Italy’s cultural and political
structures, which were expressed through the espousal of medievalism as an appro-
priate style for funerary architecture. Beginning in the 1860s, medievalism supplanted
neoclassicism as the lingua franca of Italian funerary architecture. Meanwhile, in other
areas of public architecture, Renaissance classicism proved to be more successful as
a model for newly united Italy. The widespread influence of medievalism on funerary
design was due perhaps to its associations with tradition and religion, but also to its
appropriateness to certain political conditions, as illustrated, for example, in the cities
of Milan, Pavia, Padua and Genoa.

Milan
Medievalism was adopted in the monumental cemetery in Milan as a direct result of
the struggle for independence, which culminated in the city’s liberation from Austrian
Style, language and meaning 173
occupation in 1859. In fact, Milan offers a powerful example of the effects of political
change on funerary architecture, and of the expression of those effects through style.
The outcome of a competition for a new burial ground set by the Austrian regime in
1838 highlighted the political tensions that drove stylistic debates in northern Italy
prior to independence. The Austrian administration favoured the neoclassical project
of Giulio Aluisetti (1794–1851), whereas the Brera Academy in Milan supported the
romantic and eclectic design of Alessandro Sidoli (1812–1855).76 Aluisetti’s
competition entry (which was probably destroyed in the bombardment of Milan’s
State Archive in 1943) was revised with minor changes in 1846 and submitted by
Aluisetti in a competition of 1860. The altered project typified neoclassical funerary
architecture of the period before unification in that it embodied a rectangular court
with semicircular exedras, avenues and ronds-points, and an entrance that was reached
by means of a tree-lined avenue and a semicircular forecourt. A similar layout
was realised, for example, at Brescia’s monumental cemetery (1815). By contrast,
Sidoli’s project was more elaborate in that it incorporated a monumental entrance, a
Pantheon-based church, a lighthouse and a combination of Greco-Roman, French and
Renaissance influences. The judges of Milan’s 1838 competition were broadly split
between architects who supported Sidoli and city councillors who backed Aluisetti.
When invited to resolve the ensuing stalemate, the local Brera Academy came down
in favour of Sidoli, much to the displeasure of an Austrian administration for which
Aluisetti’s project represented a more economical and politically appropriate solution.
For its opponents, Aluisetti’s project was unoriginal and imitative, and lacked the
ideological significance of Sidoli’s eclecticism and his willingness to abandon a format
associated with the Austrian authorities.77

Figure 4.16 Milan, altered version of cemetery project, Alessandro Sidoli, 1838
Source: ‘Illustrazione del progetto di Alessandro Sidoli e del suo postumo perfezionamento’ (1855)
174 Style, language and meaning
That split between the political establishment and the local art world mirrored wider
stylistic debates, which underpinned the promotion of classicism and romanticism
within Italy and most of Europe. In mid-nineteenth-century Milan, such discussions
were fuelled by a growing desire to abandon neoclassicism in favour of a national
style.78 In arguments that peaked around the time of Italian unification in 1860,
neoclassicism was identified as the ‘international style’ of the Austrian Restoration,
while an eclectic romanticism was presented as the alternative framework on which
to carry a rising national consciousness. Periodicals, and particularly the newspaper
Il Crepuscolo and the architectural journal Il Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto ed
Agronomo, were major vehicles for debates that were restricted by Austrian censorship.
In particular, Il Giornale was created in 1853 with the explicit intention to combat
the hegemony of Greco-Roman architecture, and to help promote the creation a
national style. In the atmosphere of repression and control that followed from the
1848 insurrection and suppressive measures implemented by the Austrians, discussions
regarding art or literature offered an arena that largely evaded political censorship.79
Thus, architecture became a battlefield where political conflicts could be aired. The
press provided a platform for Sidoli’s supporters, which included members of the Brera
Academy, critics, intellectuals, patriots and others who championed his project by
associating its eclectic style with individualism and political freedom. Meanwhile,
Aluisetti’s project for the new burial ground was dismissed by elements of the press
on the basis that its neoclassicism involved a slavish imitation of antiquity and
smacked of political subjugation under the Austrian regime.
In 1843, faced with the decision of whether or not to ignore the Brera Academy’s
preference for Sidoli’s project, the council in Milan released a statement asserting its
exclusive and legal right to arbitrate. It then set aside the results of the 1838
competition and charged three architects with the task of generating new designs. As
one of those architects, Aluisetti submitted a slightly altered design of 1846, which,
unsurprisingly, met with the approval of the Austrian authorities – a decision that
was later described as ‘a violation of justice’ that was motivated by ‘insensitive and
prejudiced political influences’.80 Equally, the press protested that ‘factionalism had
interfered with this decision’ and ‘party spirit had confounded the sense of beauty
and utility’.81 The realisation of Aluisetti’s design was hindered by practical problems
relating to the site. However, in 1853, in the aftermath of a violent popular revolt, it
was revived by the Austrian regime, which wished to be seen to promote civic
embellishments. A commission was established in 1855 to re-examine Aluisetti’s
design, which triggered fresh opposition and a flurry of articles in local journals. When
Sidoli died in the same year, the press speculated whether ‘fatal disappointment’ caused
by the rejection of his project might have contributed to his demise.82 Il Giornale
dell’Ingegnere, Architetto ed Agronomo published a revised version of Sidoli’s project,
together with another rejected entry from the 1838 competition by the stage designer
Giuseppe Pavesi, which was promoted on the basis that its scenic theatricality expressed
creative freedom.83 In contrast, a disparaging article of 1856 judged Aluisetti’s project
to be a collage of different forms that were largely derivative of Roman Imperial
architecture.84
Throughout the 1850s, as the press sought to compel the authorities in Milan to
reconsider their choice, criticism of Aluisetti’s style hung on three main points that
corresponded to veiled criticisms of the Austrian regime.85 First, Aluisetti’s design was
deemed to be frugal and excessively modest, in line with the materialism and avarice
Style, language and meaning 175
attributed to Austrian rule. Second, the project was thought to result from a thoughtless
imitation of ancient forms, and therefore to be lacking in creativity and any sense of
personal freedom. Third, Aluisetti’s design was seen to be inappropriate to its function,
as Greco-Roman architecture was deemed to be anachronistic, pagan and ill-suited
to a Christian cemetery. It was also argued that its outmoded, neoclassical style ‘would
make us [Milanese] seem incompetent and childish in the eyes of foreigners’, which
suggests an awareness of stylistic developments outside of Italy.86 These accusations
demonstrate how a style may be rejected on the basis of its immediate political and
cultural affiliations, regardless of the meanings previously attached to that style within
a different context, or even by its current opponents. Indeed, whereas the classicism
of Aluisetti’s design was taken to signal ‘civic inequality’, it is curious that similar
accusations were not levelled at the classical elements embedded in the projects of
Sidoli and Pavesi.87 That the criticisms directed at Aluisetti’s project were political in
nature was also evidenced by the fact that its critics intimated that, given the lack of
popular support, its realisation would arouse public discontent. In fact, funerary
architecture in general was presented as a vehicle of democratisation and civic
engagement, which demanded that the architectural character of a cemetery should
be determined locally and by collective consent:

As [the cemetery] is a building that touches upon what is most dear and venerated
in the affections and needs of the population, it is essential for public opinion to
reach a consensus, so that the planned project is not the outcome of choices taken
by the local council behind closed doors, but the result of an examination, where
all those involved have taken part.88

Work began on Aluisetti’s project in 1857, but was interrupted two years later when
Milan was liberated from the Austrians, and was later abandoned by the newly elected
municipal administration in 1860. As described by the local councillor Tullo
Massarani, it was seen to be ‘a design born under different auspices’, which sprung
from ‘different opinions and ideas’ rather than from the ‘spirit of the age’.89 Municipal
documents reiterated the objections previously expressed in the press, describing
Aluisetti’s design as unchristian, restrictive and imitative. In addition, its classical style
was deemed to be alien to Italian traditions, and disappointing to those who wished
to ‘hear the accent of history and the great voice of Italian memories’ in the new burial
ground.90 This alienation of classicism was remarkable given the strength of its
previous associations with Italian culture and the architecture of ancient Rome. It was
also in direct contrast to views expressed during the Napoleonic regime of the early
1800s by some members of Milan’s Brera Academy, such as the painter Giuseppe
Bossi (1777–1815), for whom classicism was an Italian style, whereas medieval art
was held to be free of national affiliations.91 Those differences in interpretation should
not be read as contradictions, but as evidence of the fluidity with which different
meanings can, over time, be attached to a particular style. In fact, as noted in 1895,
‘an important factor in the decision [to discard Aluisetti’s design] was the will of the
public to abandon a project involved in twenty years of foreign oppression, and the
hope that the nation’s liberation might be expressed through art’.92 In other words,
neoclassicism was abandoned because it was associated with the Austrian regime, and
because new political interests and cultural forces needed to be concretised through
the use of ‘fresh’ and appropriate architectural languages. In contrast to the first
176 Style, language and meaning

decades of the 1800s, the creation of new cultural and political identities in northern
Italy meant that neoclassical architecture, while cast as imitative and repetitious, was
seen primarily as the product of authoritarian and invasive foreign governments.
A new civic cemetery provided a major opportunity for Milan’s recently established
administration to signal the end of the Austrian regime, and to place its mark on the
city. However, as illustrated in satire, political machinations and a lengthy controversy
about the appropriateness of different styles meant further delays. In 1860, Milan’s
municipal authority launched another competition to generate a design for a cemetery
that might reflect the city’s new political status. According to Carlo Tenca, a patriot
who had fought against the Austrians, and had attacked Aluisetti in his newspaper Il
Crepuscolo, the winning project should ‘pay homage to freedom’ and ‘fall in line with
the progressive times’.93 To this end, as a local politician, Massarani recommended
the use of Lombard Romanesque on the basis that it was patriotic, Christian, and an
idiom that recalled the freedom and independence of Milan’s medieval commune or
city state. Massarani held Romanesque to be ‘that religious and patriotic style that
signified the hopes, aims [and] worthy endeavours . . . of the first people to be
redeemed from the feudal plough to a life of freedom and intellectual activity’.94 His
comments echoed an article published anonymously in Milan in 1856 that pointed
to Lombard Romanesque as the most appropriate style for the new cemetery.95 At a
time when prominent Italian architects and theorists advocated local medieval styles
as potential sources of national identity, Lombard Romanesque represented an obvious
choice for Milan. Meanwhile, outside of Italy, that politics rather than aesthetics
directed stylistic choices is shown by the fact that an Italianate medieval style was
adopted for the new city hall (1869–1883) in Vienna. The designer, Friedrich von
Schmidt, had been a professor at the Brera Academy in Milan until the city’s
independence in 1859, and opted for Lombard medievalism as an alternative to the
official style of neo-baroque in order to signal Vienna’s autonomy from imperial
power.96 Thus, in both Milan and Vienna, Lombard medievalism served to express
opposition, or independence, with respect to imperial authority.

Figure 4.17 Satirical cartoon: L’uomo di pietra, 1863, illustrating unexecuted cemetery
projects for Milan by Luigi Cagnola (1809), Francesco Durelli (1816), Giulio
Aluisetti (1838, 1846) and Alessandro Sidoli (1838)
Source: Milan, Civica Raccolta delle Stampe Achille Bertarelli, Castello Sforzesco
Style, language and meaning 177
The programme set in Milan for the competition of 1860 did not refer to any
particular style and, although the resulting designs have been lost, few appear to have
been in a medieval idiom.97 None of the submissions was found to be of sufficient
merit, and no winner was appointed. In that regard, it is worth noting that the judges
were headed by Camillo Boito who, at 26, was already a prominent professor
of the Brera Academy and a fervent advocate of medievalism, and particularly of
Romanesque. In 1862, Boito wrote a verbose report outlining the criteria that were
adopted by the judging commission, which effectively laid down the guidelines for a
cemetery that would showcase the ideals of medievalism. An underlying nationalism
meant that French competitors were immediately rejected, and their designs were
described by Boito as ‘Frenchified Roman, without proportions or a shadow of
taste’.98 In that same year, the Mayor of Milan stated that Aluisetti’s project had been
abandoned due to ‘a change in taste’ and ‘because the public no longer wanted a
purely monumental cemetery that would impede . . . the freedom of artists in the
creation of freestanding monuments’.99 Whereas the brief for the earlier Austrian
competition of 1838 demanded a porticoed court, or cloister, after unification that
format was perceived as ‘constraining the invention of the designer to a convention’.100
Aluisetti’s discarded design was criticised for allowing the public framework to take
precedence over the areas for private monuments, thereby hinting at the rigidity of
Austrian rule over a stifled citizenry. In his report of 1862, Boito advocated abandoning
the cloistered format on the basis that more space might be allocated for tombs – a
change that would support the integration of the individual into a more open public
structure. As the neoclassical cemeteries of the early nineteenth century generally
incorporated a unified axial layout, the rejection of neoclassicism allowed for the
development of less rigid frameworks that accommodated a broader range of tombs
and independent chapels, and which reflected societal change and the growing
prominence of the middle classes. For Boito, it was also essential that the layout of
Milan’s new cemetery should reflect freedom from oppression, greater individual
liberty, and the amalgamation of individualism and nationalism – goals that were
clearly established within the influential writings of Giuseppe Mazzini, who saw the
the freedom of the nation as a necessary condition for the freedom of the individual.101
Thus, the rigid discipline of the enclosed court was shunned in favour of private
monuments that were cast as individual statements of a newfound independence.
In the light of Boito’s comments, in 1862, five competitors were asked to submit
new projects, which resulted in the appointment of Carlo Maciachini (1818–1899),
whose design incorporated a combination of Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine styles.
Work began almost immediately, and Milan’s new Monumentale cemetery was
completed over the period of 1863–1866. Maciachini’s design won approval because
it was seen to reflect patriotism and a respect for individual freedom. Its ‘Lombard
[style] mixed with Byzantine elements’ was praised as befitting Italian artistic traditions
and Milan’s civic identity.102 Although Milan was never Italy’s capital city, it was
commonly awarded the title of capitale morale, or moral capital, on the basis of its
role as a commercial and industrial centre and its status within Italy’s developing
political landscape. Given its local roots, Lombard Romanesque satisfied municipal
aspirations as Milan jockeyed for position in the new Italy. Maciachini’s project
was also acclaimed for ‘allowing freedom to show variety and abundance’.103 In short,
the openness and monumentality of Milan’s ‘Monumentale’ fulfilled ideological
178 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.18 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, Carlo Maciachini, 1863


Source: The author (2012)

concerns with regard to individual freedom, civic pride, regional ambitions, nationalism
and the nation state.

Pavia and Padua


In Pavia, as in Milan, a neoclassical design for a civic cemetery was eventually replaced
with a project that was more in tune with the spirit of the age. When the execution
of a lavish Greco-Roman design of 1858 by the architect Giovanni Battista Vergani
was interrupted by the Second War of Independence (1859), a debate ensued between
Vergani’s supporters and those who hoped that the city’s new cemetery might reflect
the region’s subsequent liberation. Still, powerful figures of the architectural estab-
lishment were slow to give way and, four years after Vergani’s death in 1865, his son
Carlo presented a simplified version of his father’s design that was intended to reduce
costs and render the project more appealing to the local council. Work began to Carlo
Vergani’s design in 1874, but was halted on practical grounds in the following year.
Two years later, the engineer Vincenzo Monti, who was charged with the task of
examining the project’s finances, presented a report to the local council that vehemently
condemned Carlo Vergani’s design. Monti attacked the project’s classical style on
the basis of its excessive cost, while raising a medievalist’s objections to classicism.
As a former student of Camillo Boito, Monti described Vergani’s project as inhibiting
creativity and freedom in that its ‘arid style . . . forces the imagination of the artist
to submit to the stringent rules of classicism’.104 He also denounced classicism as
‘an architectural style created for different times and different people that cannot be
adapted to modern use and customs’.105 Monti presented an alternative medievalist
Style, language and meaning 179

Figure 4.19 Pavia, monumental cemetery, façade, Vincenzo Monti and Angelo Savoldi,
1879
Source: The author (2012)

project in arcuated brick rather than masonry, which bolstered his claim that local
architecture from the fourteenth century was practical, cheaper and better suited to
the functions of a cemetery. He quoted extensively from a collection of lectures by
the eminent medievalist Pietro Selvatico, who urged young architects to break free
from the shackles of classicism and to follow the path, set in other European countries,
towards a new architecture rooted in medieval traditions.106 In 1877, Monti’s
sensibility to current needs won him the commission for Pavia’s new cemetery and,
before dying of illness in the same year, he asked Angelo Savoldi, a friend and fellow
student under Boito, to complete the design. Their joint endeavours resulted in a project
that was initiated in 1879, and which combined Lombard Romanesque with elements
of local Gothic.
The creation of a civic cemetery in Padua reflected events in Milan and Pavia in
that a neoclassical project was set aside in 1860 and later replaced by a design that
drew on medieval architectural traditions. The abandoned Greco-Roman design,
which was created in 1844 by the municipal engineer Giuseppe Maestri, was typical
in that it incorporated a Doric cloister and a church modelled on the Pantheon.107
The project was approved in 1845, but its realisation was hindered by the anti-Austrian
insurrection in 1848 and the First and Second Wars of Independence of 1848–1849
and 1859. Meanwhile, support for the proposal dwindled, and when the local council
met to re-examine the project in late 1859, its Greco-Roman style was thought to be
imitative and inappropriate to the sacred nature of a cemetery.108 Consequently,
180 Style, language and meaning
Maestri was asked to adopt a native medieval idiom, which was thought to be better
suited to Christian conceptions of death. The request shows how attitudes towards
architectural style advanced faster than the forces of liberation in that, although the
Second War of Independence (1859) resulted in freedom for Milan and Pavia, Padua
and the region of Venetia remained under Austrian control until 1866. In effect,
the design of public cemeteries offered municipal councils under foreign rule an oppor-
tunity to assert a degree of autonomy.
In order to influence developments in his native Padua, in 1860, the medievalist
Pietro Selvatico wrote a pamphlet entitled Sul futuro cimitero di Padova (On the Future
Cemetery of Padua), which constituted a manifesto for a new burial ground that was
predicated on two main points.109 First, he dismissed the use of classicism in funerary
architecture, describing a Greco-Roman cemetery as a falsification of the Christian
idea of death. For Selvatico, the Doric porticoes of the neoclassical cemeteries of Brescia
and Verona evoked ‘the gossipy chat of Athenians’ rather than the peace of eternal
rest. Second, the pamphlet established that Padua’s new cemetery should be in a
patriotic and medieval style, whether Byzantine, Norman, Romanesque or Gothic.
Selvatico’s reputation was such that the Mayor of Padua called a meeting to examine
the ‘reflections of [this] man of superior intellect’ and, in 1861, the local council
approved a new medievalist project designed by Giuseppe Maestri and his son
Eugenio.110 A description of the proposed design suggests that it embodied an octagonal
court surrounded by Gothic porticoes, and had at its centre a chapel that was capped
by a cupola. However, the project was delayed, and in 1863 another commission was
created to examine its feasibility. Eventually, in August 1864, the authorities in Padua
decided to reuse a site occupied by an existing burial ground rather than build in a
new location, which provided an excuse to abandon the Maestri project in favour of
a new architectural competition. Later in 1864, Selvatico provided a highly detailed
brief for the new cemetery through a local newspaper, which stated that the council,
‘while not prescribing precisely the architectural style’, would favour, in case of equal
merit, a project that used the fourteenth-century style of the Loggia dei Lanzi or the
altar at Orsanmichele in Florence.111 A draft of that article specified that this was
the style of the Italian Middle Ages.112 In a lecture of 1856 on funerary art, Selvatico
had accorded particular importance to Florentine exemplars and to the status of
Florence in Italian culture – a preference that was later reinforced by Florence’s role
as capital of Italy from 1865 to the annexation of Rome in 1870.113
Initially, Selvatico’s proposals for Padua’s new cemetery were tempered by the
municipal council, which in a draft written around 1864 in preparation for the new
competition expressed a preference for a ‘form and style that recalls mournful and
religious feelings’, characteristics that by then were generally attributed to medieval
architecture.114 Yet, by the time the judges met to examine the results of the competition
in 1867, the political compass had shifted decisively in favour of medievalism.
Following the Third War of Independence of 1866, Venetia passed from Austrian rule
into the newly unified Italy. That change was marked by the appointment of the
distinguished patriot Alberto Cavalletto (1813–1897) to the panel of judges and by
the publication of a municipal pamphlet that described the project as a showcase for
Padua’s newfound freedom. That pamphlet also blamed the poor state of the existing
burial ground on the ‘rapacious taxes imposed by the foreigners,which deprived
the citizens of the means to pay homage to their dead’.115 The emergence of a new
Style, language and meaning 181

architectural establishment was also evidenced by the fact that Selvatico was one of
the competition judges, together with his former pupil Camillo Boito, who, in 1862,
had been a member of the commission for the monumental cemetery in Milan. Their
influence might be measured in the fact that their detailed assessments were reiterated
by other members of the panel.
Although the final brief for the competition made no reference to style, the con-
version to medievalism may be assessed on the basis that, of 10 competitors examined
by the judges, half were receptive to the underlying medievalist agenda. Two of the
other projects were in a neo-Renaissance style and three were neoclassical. The Greco-
Roman designs were met with scorn by Selvatico, who described one project as a
thoughtless arrangement that achieved symmetry at the expense of function, and
another as better suited to ‘a theatre, a courthouse, [or] a public bath’ as it was ‘inspired
(or perhaps copied) from the Great Competitions held in Paris and Milan . . . between
1780 and 1830’.116 Selvatico’s comments are further evidence that neoclassical
models based on French academic funerary design were, by the 1860s, dismissed as
derivative and formulaic. Similar accusations regarding the inappropriate, imprac-
tical and expensive nature of classical solutions were echoed by the other judges.
Of the five neo-medieval designs submitted for the 1865 competition, one was in a
Gothic style, another merged Gothic and Romanesque, and three were strictly Lombard
Romanesque. The first three prizes were unanimously awarded to the latter three
projects. Boito praised the use of Lombard Romanesque as ‘a single style, organic,
economic [and] simple’ that was ‘well suited to the character and use of the building’,
and which drew ‘on the rich traditions of Paduan art’.117 That position was also
adopted by another judge, the architect Andrea Scala, who went as far as to say that
Lombard Romanesque was not only the style of Padua’s major monuments, but also
in tune with the character of its citizens and the nature of its terrain, climate and
materials.118 In effect, the fact that Lombard Romanesque was rooted in the region

Figure 4.20 Padua, monumental cemetery, Enrico Holzner, 1880


Source: The author (2012)
182 Style, language and meaning

bolstered a sense of local pride. The commission eventually settled on a Romanesque


project submitted by the architect Enrico Holzner, on which construction began in
1880.
The cemetery at Padua is less elaborate, and more Romanesque, than the Lom-
bard Byzantine idiom employed at Milan, or Pavia’s juxtaposition of Gothic and
Romanesque. However, the approaches taken in all three cities have precedents within
the architecture of Camillo Boito, whose work ranged from a stripped-down
Romanesque to a more heterogeneous and ornate medievalism that drew on Gothic
and Byzantine traditions.119 At Padua, Boito’s impact was evident in that the style
adopted by Holzner was known as stile Boito – an approach defined by the use of an
abstracted Rundbogenstil, enlivened by a polychromatic juxtaposition of brick and
stone that has affinities with High Victorian Gothic. Decoration was used to emphasise
the structure, which followed Boito’s view of architecture as the embellishment of
utility and his contention that the parte organica of a building (its structure, function
and materials) must be in tune with the parte simbolica (its decoration or symbolic
character).120 In particular, Holzner was inspired by Boito’s design for the cemetery
(1864) of Gallarate, near Milan (Catalogue 9).121 At Gallarate, Boito put into practice
theories expressed in 1862, when he was one of the adjudicators for the Monumentale
cemetery in Milan. The resulting design is an uncompromising, rigorous and highly
simplified version of Romanesque, which Boito described as ‘amico della verità’
(truthful).122 In terms of their layout, the cemeteries of Pavia and Padua are also
indebted to Carlo Maciachini’s design for the Monumentale (1863) in Milan. All three
cemeteries embody an imposing entrance building at the centre of their façades, which
is in the form of a Greek cross with octagonal lanterns. Internally, the façade is backed
by an open area that is partly encircled by porticoes. Padua also follows Milan in that
the frontal wings form a large forecourt in the shape of a horseshoe.

Figure 4.21 Gallarate cemetery, Camillo Boito, 1865–1869


Source: Courtesy of Alessio Boschet (2016)
Style, language and meaning 183

Figure 4.22 Milan, Monumentale cemetery, entrance façade


Source: Milan, Civico Archivio Fotografico, Raccolta Oreste Silvestri (© Milan, Civiche Raccolte Grafiche
e Fotografiche)

Dialects of Lombardy–Venetia
The similarities in style and plan between Milan, Pavia and Padua testify to the
popularity of the relatively open layout of the Monumentale in Milan, and to the
appropriateness of medievalism to the sociopolitical contexts of newly liberated
Lombardy and Venetia. They illustrate the influence of theorists and the manner in
which models of funerary design were passed between regions and cities. They also
show how architects were powerless in the face of major changes within the political
establishment. More broadly, however, an analysis of medievalist cemeteries in
Lombardy–Venetia demonstrates how efforts to create a national ‘language’ resulted
in the revival of local ‘dialects’. Medievalists expressed the intention to create a national
style, but political and ideological conditions were more complex than that ambition
suggests. While medieval traditions provided some basis for common or national
sentiments, regional styles were also promoted because of values rooted in local pride.
Although medievalism reflected a general tendency towards nationalism and a shared
culture, it also provided a platform upon which individual cities deployed architectural
languages that were suited to their particular civic identities and regional aspirations.
Thus, the nation’s new cemeteries reflected the political tensions between national
and local interests that underlay the process of unification, and exemplified the
mechanisms whereby perceptions of nationhood were filtered through the lenses of
local identity.
The difficulties that beset the creation of a national architecture were reflected in
the differing perspectives of Pietro Selvatico and Camillo Boito. Selvatico held that a
new style would emerge from an eclectic fusion of local medieval sources.123 He
promoted medievalism as a form of Esperanto, or as a new language that combined
older traditions, and which might overcome regional boundaries. Otherwise, the
emergence of a truly overarching national language would have depended on the
elevation of one style from among those promoted by the major regions, much in
the same way as Florentine dialect was established as Italy’s national language. It is
significant that Boito endorsed Lombard Romanesque as ‘the true style of our
fatherland’ given that, although his favoured style appeared in a number of Italian
regions, it was largely associated with his local region of Lombardy.124 Similarly, in
184 Style, language and meaning
the 1850s, Selvatico praised the Gothic style of his native Venetia.125 The idea that
interpretations of medievalism that were coined in Lombardy and Venetia might
provide the basis for a national style stemmed from a belief in the cultural, political
and economic supremacy of those regions.126 In identifying Lombard Romanesque as
a common framework into which local styles might be absorbed, Boito described a
phenomenon that is akin to the evolution of a koiné, or to the adoption of a regional
dialect as the language of a wider area. In reality, the prospect of one local architectural
tradition being chosen as a national style was credible only when viewed from the
perspective of individual cities and regions fighting for primacy in the new Italy. The
struggle for a dominant style reflected the fragmented nature of a nation state that
was seen by many, not as a willing coalescence of equal partners under the Savoy
monarchy, but as an annexation by Piedmont of highly disparate and distinctive
regions.127 Following unification, the administrative structures of northern Italy were
imposed through a process that some interpreted as the colonisation of Italy by one
of its regions – a process that might be compared in architecture to the imposition of
a regional style. In his own designs, Boito drew on a range of regional styles from
across the Middle Ages, which contradicted the message of his theoretical works, and
demonstrated political sympathies that leant towards federalism and decentralisation.
In any case, the lack of common ground, or of national traditions, meant that the
project of uniting Italian architecture through style was destined to fail.

Genoa and local pride


As in Lombardy–Venetia, developments at the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa illustrate
how local ambitions played a greater part than the urge for national unity in the
rejection of neoclassicism. Genoa was placed under Piedmont after the Restoration
in 1815. However, a history of autonomy associated with the Republic of Genoa
contributed to feelings of resentment towards the Savoy rulers, nostalgia for the defunct
republic, and a strong current of republicanism.128 Those forces might explain the
adoption of neo-Greek classicism for the Staglieno cemetery, which was laid out in
the 1840s–1860s as a series of porticoed enclosures that became populated by
neoclassical tombs and monuments. Later, in 1870s–1890s, Staglieno was extended
uphill in the form of a picturesque woodland, whose irregularity allowed greater
freedom for edicole, or individual tombs, to be built by families and individuals in a
range of different styles (see Figure 2.10 in Chapter 2). As pluralism outstripped
neoclassicism, particular preference was accorded to local models from the late Middle
Ages.129 In particular, Genoa’s medieval Cathedral of San Lorenzo offered a model
for a number of late nineteenth-century tombs that were characterised by spiral
colonnettes, recessed portals and distinctly Genoese, ‘black and white’ cladding. To
a lesser extent, local Renaissance architecture was also influential in the design of
Staglieno’s tombs, especially the work of the sixteenth-century architect Galeazzo
Alessi.130 Meanwhile, a number of medievalist and neo-Renaissance tombs were
erected within the cemetery’s older neoclassical framework (see Figure 2.27 in
Chapter 2).
In the 1870s–1890s, an interest in Genoa’s medieval and Renaissance architecture
was also manifested in the study and restoration of old buildings, and the construction
of historicist architecture across the city.131 In 1885, a local newspaper described the
growing attention to Genoa’s architectural heritage as ‘driven by a true love for the
Style, language and meaning 185

Figure 4.23 Genoa, San Lorenzo Cathedral, 1200s–1400s


Source: The author (2015)

fatherland’, and presented Genoa as a model for Italian architecture because of its
‘admirable examples of national styles that emerged after antiquity’.132 It identified
as exemplars medieval buildings that were associated with Genoa’s glorious past, such
as the Palazzo San Giorgio (1260), which was once the seat of the republic’s economic
power and whose pointed arches, red brick and contrasting white colonnettes formed
a prototype for a number of chapels at the Staglieno. Tombs at the Staglieno cemetery
also replicated, on a miniature scale, revivalist architecture built in new areas of Genoa
for an expanding middle class. For instance, the Rivara tomb (1875) recalls the style
of the neo-Cinquecento Church of Immacolata Concezione, which was erected on a
new residential street in 1871. Similarly, with regards to the parallels between city
and cemetery, in 1885, Erasmo Piaggio commissioned a ‘luxuriously gothic’ tomb for
his late wife and a neo-medieval extension of his family palazzo.133 As a wealthy
shipowner who fought among Garibaldi’s volunteers, Piaggio was representative of
a patriotic and progressive elite whose respect for the Middle Ages shows how a
medieval past was invested with concerns relating to Genoa’s place in a newly unified
Italy.134 A popular book of the 1850s–1870s, , Storia popolare di Genova, shows how
Genoese history was rewritten to satisfy local patriotism and a sense of a unique civic
identity.135 The book describes the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in terms of
disunity and conflict, but underlines the position of leadership achieved by the Republic
of Genoa among the Italian city states, and the prosperity enjoyed by the Genoese
mercantile classes. History was interpreted in a way that asserted Genoa’s primacy
186 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.24 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Ottone tomb, 1898


Source: The author (2009)
Style, language and meaning 187

Figure 4.25 Genoa, Palazzo San Giorgio, 1260 (altered 1570, 1878)
Source: The author (2015)
188 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.26 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Cerruti tomb


Source: The author (2015)
Style, language and meaning 189

Figure 4.27 Genoa, Church of Immacolata Concezione, 1871


Source: The author (2015)
190 Style, language and meaning

Figure 4.28 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Rivara tomb, 1875


Source: The author (2015)
Style, language and meaning 191

Figure 4.29 Genoa, Staglieno cemetery, Piaggio tomb, 1885


Source: The author (2015)
192 Style, language and meaning
within Italy and the distinctiveness of its cultural traditions, which contributed to the
popularity of local medieval and Renaissance architecture.
The proliferation of medievalist tombs at the Staglieno was symptomatic of a
rediscovery of Genoa’s architectural heritage and of historical precedents that were
lodged in the culture of a local merchant class. In Lombardy–Venetia, medievalism
was embraced in the immediate aftermath of liberation as an alternative to the
neoclassicism espoused by Austrian rulers. In Genoa, medievalism of the 1870s–1890s
was driven by associations with different, but again, local traditions, which were suited
to the city’s mercantile culture, local pride, republican sentiments and struggle for
status in the new Italy.

The politics of style and nationhood


Italian unification did not bring stylistic unity, as the urge to create a national
‘language’ was overshadowed by regional ambitions. Essentially, the issues surrounding
the choice of a national style were symptomatic of the difficulties inherent in creating
a unified Italy from a network of fragmented regions and cities that, historically and
ideologically, were inclined towards independence and interurban conflict. Although,
at one level, the promotion of regional architectural traditions was associated with
the reinforcement of a national identity, it also reflected local interests and particularly
the power of the richer regions of the north, such as Lombardy, Venetia, Tuscany,
Liguria and Piedmont. The funerary architecture of Milan, Pavia and Padua
demonstrates how local forms of medievalism could express the political and stylistic
specificity of powerful cities, while medievalism in general operated as the vehicle
of a common and national culture. In that regard, the use of a native Lombard
Romanesque in Milan’s Monumentale cemetery constituted a compelling statement
of local autonomy, which emerged against a background of competing regional and
nationalist sentiments. Equally, the case of the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa suggests
that local factors were more influential than nationalist ambitions in the revival of
medieval traditions. In contrast to the regulated grammar of neoclassicism, medievalism
was a relatively flexible template that could be bent to satisfy local needs, or an elastic
substructure of architectural principles that could be superimposed with local elements.
Thus, medievalism was an ideal and necessary mechanism in that it allowed for the
development of a common ideological base upon which individual cities could express
their particular local ambitions. In effect, medievalism satisfied the political and
cultural conditions that characterised Italy as an emergent nation. It allowed for the
expression of a commonality, which was overwritten by conflict and division. In that
sense, style did not reflect a contradiction between patriotic rhetoric and real local
ambitions, but was adapted to fit a complex situation in which a medievalist base
expressed a common national culture, while the superimposition of regional styles
fulfilled local imperatives. As a result, whereas Italian liberation can be linked to the
suppression of neoclassicism as an alien tradition, it also gave rise to a medievalism
that suited the disjointed political context of post-unification Italy.
Italian cemeteries of the nineteenth century also demonstrate how the meanings
associated with architectural languages are not fixed, but are the product of immediate
processes that, depending on how they are rooted, may be essentially cultural, socio-
economic or political.136 In turn, that raises questions regarding how particular styles,
as configurations of physical elements or aesthetic qualities, are pressed into service
Style, language and meaning 193
as appropriate carriers of meanings that stem from social processes. The fluidity of
the system through which aesthetic languages are relabelled is evidenced by the fact
that a neo-Greek design suited the political and cultural conditions that underpinned
the creation of the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa in 1844, whereas in 1859, a neoclassical
project for the monumental cemetery in Milan was rejected for its associations with
foreign oppression. Within a few decades, the Greek Doric order was associated
with freedom in one city and with political subjugation in another. Thus, while the
meanings attributed to a style might be partly based on the suitability of its physical
or aesthetic characteristics, those meanings are culturally or politically derived, and
are imposed on the physical nature of that style. It is also clear that the associations
attributed to an architectural language may relate to its history, and that a style may
be more easily imbued with meanings when it can be tied to appropriate forms of
past employment.
In general, historical associations in architecture provide a ready-made battery of
meanings that can be harnessed to serve current political or other needs. Equally, as
in the case of neoclassicism in late nineteenth-century Italy, historical baggage may
form the basis on which a style is discarded. As represented by Selvatico and Boito,
history and tradition are translated by architects, theorists and the press into ideological
constructs that are relevant to contemporary conditions. While the precise conditions
within which an architectural style serves to express a particular set of social, cultural
and political forces will vary, with respect to Italian cemeteries of the 1800s, it is
possible to explore the tangible forces that were embedded in a fragmented nation.
It is also possible to identify how medievalism presented an ideal basis for the
evolution of appropriate styles in that it allowed for the expression of both a common
culture and local political imperatives, which were incorporated in a new and divided
state.

Notes
1 Charles Jencks and George Baird, Meaning in Architecture (London: Barrie & Rockliff,
The Cresset Press, 1970), 11–78; John Onians, Bearers of Meaning: The Classical Orders
in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1990), 3–6; Georgia Clarke and Paul Crossley, Architecture and Language:
Constructing Identity in European Architecture, c.1000–c.1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2000), 1–20.
2 Stuart Woolf, A History of Italy 1700–1860: The Social Constraints of Political Change
(London: Methuen, 1979), 234–6; Adrian Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past: history,
myth, and image in the Risorgimento’, in Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation
of National Identity around the Risorgimento, ed. Albert Russell Ascoli and Krystyna
Von Henneberg (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2001), 32.
3 See Chapter 2 and Giovanna D’Amia and Giuliana Ricci, ed., La cultura architettonica
nell’età della restaurazione (Milan: Mimesis Edizioni, 2002), 28; Gian Paolo Consoli, ‘La
“nuova architettura del nuovo secolo”: Temi e tipi’, in Contro il Barocco: Apprendistato
a Roma e pratica dell’architettura civile in Italia 1780–1820, ed. Angela Cipriani, Gian
Paolo Consoli and Susanna Pasquali (Rome: Campisano, 2007), 151.
4 On the symbolism of the pyramid, see: Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy,
Dictionnaire historique d’architecture (Paris: Librairie d’Adrien le Clere, 1832), 344;
Richard A. Etlin, The Architecture of Death: The Transformation of the Cemetery in
Eighteenth-Century Paris (London: MIT Press, 1984), 119–30; James Stevens Curl,
Egyptomania (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), 172–86; Jörg Martin
Merz, ‘Piramidi e Papi. Funzioni e significati della piramide nell’architettura tra Settecento
e Ottocento’, in Contro il Barocco.
194 Style, language and meaning
5 Francesco Milizia, Principj di architettura civile (Bassano: Remondini, 1813), 203.
6 Joselita Raspi Serra and Giorgio Simoncini, ed., La fortuna di Paestum e la memoria
moderna del dorico: 1750–1830 (Florence: Centro Di, 1986), vol. II, 196–7.
7 For example, the French designs by Nicolas-Henri Jardin (sepulchral chapel, 1747), Pierre
Giraud (Paris cemetery project, 1798–1801) and Jean-Baptiste Guignet (Grand Prix,
Elysium or public cemetery, 1799) might be compared with the Italian projects by Pietro
Tomba (sepulchral chapels, Faenza, 1806–1807) and Giuseppe Marchelli (sepulchral
monument, Reggio Emilia, ca. 1810–1814). See also Etlin, The Architecture of Death,
63–4; Merz, ‘Piramidi’, 316.
8 Stevens Curl, Egyptomania, 131–3; Consoli, ‘La “nuova architettura” ’, 206; Merz,
‘Piramidi’, 310–14 and 317–20.
9 Letter of 21 August 1813, quoted in Merz, ‘Piramidi’, 312. The pyramid also featured in
an anonymous design for a funerary monument that was probably intended to house the
remains of a prominent figure in the Napoleonic regime in Rome (see Serra and Simoncini,
ed., La fortuna, vol. II, 200).
10 Emilio Lavagnino, L’arte moderna dai neoclassici ai contemporanei (Turin: Unione
Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1961), 295–9; Consoli, ‘La “nuova architettura”’, 46 and
214.
11 Merz, ‘Piramidi’, 317. On the ties between Freemasonry and the Egyptian revival, see
Stevens Curl, Egyptomania, 134–5.
12 Quatremère de Quincy, De l’architecture Égyptienne, 1803, quoted in Stevens Curl,
Egyptomania, 107; Quatremère de Quincy, Dictionnaire, 345; see also Marco Dezzi
Bardeschi, ‘L’architettura dei morti, dai Giacobini all’Unità’, in Gli architetti del pubblico
a Reggio Emilia dal Bolognini al Marcelli: Architettura e urbanistica lungo la via Emilia,
1770–1870, ed. Marinella Pigozzi (Casalecchio di Reno, Grafis, 1990), 263–4.
13 Relazione della Commissione incaricata di esaminare i progetti pel nuovo cimitero di
Padova esposti al concorso giusta il programma 15 dicembre 1865 n. 15310 (Padua: Tip.
Prov. Luigi Penada, 1867), 12.
14 Opere dei grandi concorsi premiati dall’I.R. Accademia delle Belle Arti in Milano (Milan:
Giovanni Giuseppe Destefanis, 1824), no page numbers. See also: Achille Voghera and
Oreste Voghera, Raccolta dei disegni dell’architetto Luigi Voghera (Milan: Bartolomeo
Saldini, 1842).
15 Angela Cipriani, Paolo Marconi and Enrico Valeriani, ed., I disegni di architettura
dell’Archivio storico dell’Accademia di San Luca (Rome: De Luca, 1974), 32.
16 Committee report of 15 December 1829 (Padua, Archivio di Stato, Atti comunali, Sanità,
1154). Maestri’s project remained unexecuted due to the rapidly changing political
landscape.
17 On Barabino’s education, see: Emmina De Negri, Ottocento e rinnovamento urbano: Carlo
Barabino (Genoa: Sagep, 1977); on Guêpière’s project, see: Cipriani, Marconi and
Valeriani, ed., I disegni, vol. 2, n. 2127–30; Etlin, The Architecture of Death, 77.
Guêpière’s design, or another very similar, may have also provided the basis for Barabino’s
proposal of 1807 for the completion of the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, which
incorporated a base with projecting temple-fronts and a truncated, pyramidal
superstructure (Genoa, Centro DocSAI, Collezione Topografica del Comune, inv. n. 427).
18 That drawing shows a plan, section and elevation of a circular building with a saucer
dome and Doric temple-front, which is similar to the completed project (Genoa, Centro
DocSAI, Collezione Topografica del Comune, Carlo Barabino, Cappella dei suffragi, inv.
120). For the earlier attribution to Resasco, see: Carroll L.V. Meeks, Italian Architecture:
1750–1914 (London: Yale University Press, 1966), 143.
19 Ornella Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione: I cimiteri della prima metà dell’Ottocento nel
Lombardo-Veneto’, in L’Architettura della memoria in Italia: Cimiteri, monumenti e città
1750–1939, ed. Maria Giuffrè et al. (Milan: Skira, 2007), 130–1.
20 Arturo Sandrini, ‘Il primo Ottocento: Dal neoclassicismo “civile” all’architettura della
restaurazione’, in L’architettura a Verona: Dal periodo napoleonico all’età contemporanea,
ed. Pierpaolo Brugnoli and Arturo Sandrini (Verona: Banca popolare di Verona, 1994),
44; Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione’, 130 and 147–8.
21 Relazione 1867, 12.
Style, language and meaning 195
22 On Italian politics after the Restoration, see: Woolf, A History of Italy, 234–6; Lucy Riall,
The Italian Risorgimento: State, Society, and National Unification (London: Routledge,
1994), 11–28 and Risorgimento: The History of Italy from Napoleon to Nation-State
(London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 56–71; Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny:
A History of Italy since 1796 (London: Allen Lane, 2007), 73–8.
23 Amico Ricci, Storia dell’architettura in Italia dal secolo IV al XVIII (Modena: Regio-
Ducal Camera, 1857–1859), vol. I, 148 and vol. III, 36 and 64.
24 Rome, Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte, Fondo Lanciani, Roma XI, 100, vol.
1, 15; Paolo Marconi, Giuseppe Valadier (Rome: Officina, 1964), 186; Elisa Debenedetti,
Valadier: Segno e architettura (Rome: Multigrafica editrice, 1986), 72 and 171; Consoli,
‘La “nuova architettura”’, 216; Merz, ‘Piramidi’, 307–10.
25 Debenedetti, Valadier, 73.
26 That assumption can be made on the basis of an undated sketch that has previously been
associated with French plans of 1813, but the fact that it is marked on the back as Idee
per un Monumento a Gloria de’ Monarchi sul Pincio (Ideas for a Monument to the Glory
of the Monarchs on the Pincio) suggests that it was created for the competition of 1814
(Rome, Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte, Fondo Lanciani, Roma XI, 100, vol.
1, 78); see also Marconi, Giuseppe Valadier, 187; Debenedetti, Valadier, 73 and 172.
27 Carroll L.V. Meeks, ‘Pantheon Paradigm’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
19, 4 (December 1960), 137–44. See also: Luciano Patetta, L’architettura dell’eclettismo
(Milan: Mazzotta, 1975), 9; Terry Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, vol. 1 of The
Architecture of Modern Italy (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), 153;
Consoli, ‘La “nuova architettura”’, 46; Robin L. Thomas, Architecture and Statecraft:
Charles of Bourbon’s Naples, 1734–1759 (Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania State University
Press, 2013), 154–5.
28 Meeks, ‘Pantheon’, 141; Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 129; Renato De Fusco, L’architettura
dell’Ottocento (Turin: UTET, 1980), 60–1; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 104–6;
Consoli, ‘La “nuova architettura”’, 213–14; Eamonn Canniffe, The Politics of the Piazza:
The History and Meaning of the Italian Square (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 162–3.
29 See Chapter 3 and Robin Middleton and David Watkin, Architettura dell’Ottocento
(Milan: Electa, 1977), 303.
30 Robin B. Williams, ‘A nineteenth-century Monument for the State’, in The Pantheon: From
Antiquity to the Present, ed. Tod A. Marder and Mark Wilson Jones (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2015).
31 Bruno Tobia, Una patria per gli italiani: Spazi, itinerari, monumenti nell’Italia unita
(1870–1900) (Rome: Laterza, 1991), 100–13; Alberto Maria Banti, ‘The Remembrance
of Heroes’, in The Risorgimento Revisited: Nationalism and Culture in Nineteenth-
Century Italy, ed. Silvana Patriarca and Lucy Riall (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan,
2012), 172–9; Williams, ‘A nineteenth-century Monument’, 361–4.
32 See for Cremona: Pier Ambrogio Curti, ‘Il camposanto di Cremona ed il progetto di
ampliamento dell’architetto cremonese Luigi Voghera’, in Grandiosi progetti inediti,
supplement to Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo, vol. III (December 1855);
for Milan: Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la superstizione’, 130–1; for Rome: Paolo Belloni, Il Campo
Santo di Roma (Rome: Tipografia di C. Puccinelli, 1847). Giuseppe Maestri’s project for
Padua is described earlier in this chapter.
33 Voghera, Raccolta, no page numbers.
34 Opere, no page numbers.
35 That juxtaposition appears in the projects that were created in 1795 by Giovanni Campana,
Giovanni Lazzarini and Basilio Mazzoli, in 1805 by Gioacchino Conti, and in 1835 by
Felice Cicconetti.
36 http://cprhw.tt/o/2C5TF/. The unsigned sketch, which is now in New York, was most
likely created by Giuseppe Barberi before 1795, as it was replicated, with almost
imperceptible changes, by Barberi’s pupil Giovanni Campana in his third design for the
Concorso Clementino of that year (see Figure 1.6 in Chapter 1).
37 See the project submitted by Giovanni Passinati to the Concorso Clementino in 1804;
that format was also incorporated into an anonymous project for a cemetery that was
created in response to a competition set by the Roman Academy of St Luke in 1818
(Cipriani, Marconi and Valeriani, I disegni, vol. 1, 73) and into unexecuted designs for
196 Style, language and meaning
cemeteries in Rome and Verona, created in 1806–1807 and 1830, respectively (Rome,
Gabinetto Comunale delle Stampe, 6060; Verona, Biblioteca Civica, ms. 1958, 4, n. 91).
38 Personal correspondence with Joseph Connors, 12 July 2013; Williams, ‘A nineteenth-
century Monument’, 367.
39 Opere, no page numbers.
40 Giuseppe Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo
I (February 1854), 358.
41 Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 115–20; Meeks, Italian Architecture, 142; Middleton and
Watkin, Architettura, 286; De Fusco, L’architettura, 81; Serra and Simoncini, ed., La
fortuna, vol. II, 137–8; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 149.
42 Francesco Amendolagine, ‘Vantini dalla parte di Venezia’, in Rodolfo Vantini e
l’architettura neoclassica a Brescia (Brescia: Ateneo di Brescia, 1995). As previously
mentioned, Selva was also the author of a project (1808) for the San Michele cemetery
in Venice.
43 Leopoldo Cicognara, Storia della scultura dal suo Risorgimento in Italia (Venezia: Picotti,
1818), vol. 3, 299–300; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 147–52.
44 Francesco Viganò, ‘Progetto di un grandioso Campo Santo: Proposto per la città di Milano
dall’architetto Giuseppe Pavesi’, in Grandiosi progetti inediti, supplement to Giornale
dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (December 1855): no page numbers.
45 See Chapter 2; Emanuela Bagattoni, ‘Un luogo di rappresentanza nella Bologna di primo
Ottocento’, in La Certosa di Bologna: Immortalità della memoria, ed. Giovanna Pesci
(Bologna: Editrice Compositori, 1998), 124–6; Roberto Martorelli, ‘Aristocrazia e
borghesia. Evoluzione della scultura in certosa nell’Ottocento’, in Luce sulle tenebre: Tesori
preziosi e nascosti dalla Certosa di Bologna, ed. Beatrice Buscaroli e Roberto Martorelli
(Bologna: Bonomia University Press, 2010), 35–7.
46 See, for Staglieno: De Fusco, L’architettura, 89; for Genoa’s political context: Derek Beales,
The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1971), 52; for
a general discussion of local patriotism and cemetery building: Selvafolta, ‘Oltre la
superstizione’, 60.
47 Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 109–10; Giuseppe Conforti, ‘Giuseppe Barbieri (1777–1838)’,
in L’ architettura a Verona; Maddalena Basso and Camilla Bertoni, ‘Il cimitero di Verona:
Architettura e scultura tra Neoclassicismo ed Eclettismo’, in Gli spazi della memoria:
Architettura dei cimiteri monumentali europei, ed. Mauro Felicori (Rome: Sossella, 2005),
172–6. Barbieri contributed to a survey of Sanmicheli’s architecture: Francesco Ronzani,
Girolamo Luciolli and Michele Sanmicheli, Le fabbriche civili, ecclesiastiche e militari di
Michele Sanmicheli (Verona: M. Moroni, 1823).
48 Giuseppe Barbieri, Cimitero della Regia Città di Verona (Verona: Tipografia di Paolo
Libanti, 1833), no page numbers.
49 De Fusco, L’architettura, 142.
50 Augusto Guidini, Pro Cinere (Milan: G. Civelli, 1881), 44.
51 George Hersey, High Victorian Gothic: A Study in Associationism (Baltimore, MD: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1972) 23–60; Joseph Mordaunt Crook, The Dilemma of Style:
Architectural Ideas from the Picturesque to the Post-Modern (London: John Murray,
1989), 1–51; Richard A. Etlin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier: The Romantic
Legacy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), 76–94, 150–4 and 165–8; Barry
Bergdoll, European Architecture, 1750–1890 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000),
139–71; Maria Luisa Scalvini, ‘“Stile” e “identità”, fra localismi e orgoglio nazionale:
Temi e punti di vista nel dibattito eclettico’, in Tradizioni e regionalismi: Aspetti
dell’eclettismo in Italia, ed. Loretta Mozzoni and Stefano Santini (Naples: Liguori, 2000).
52 Guido Zucconi, L’invenzione del passato: Camillo Boito e l’architettura neomedievale
(Venice: Marsilio, 1997), 27–41; Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’, 29–31.
53 On Italian debates, see: De Fusco, L’architettura, 97–8; Marinella Pigozzi, ed., Gli
architetti, 7–28; D’Amia and Ricci, ed., La cultura, 27–9. For the European context, see:
Wolfgang Herrmann, ed., In What Style Should We Build? The German Debate on
Architectural Style (Santa Monica, CA: Getty, 1992), 1–62; Bergdoll, European
Architecture, 139–71.
54 On the search for national styles, see: Herrmann, ed., In What Style Should We Build?,
1–62; Ricci and D’Amia, ed., La cultura architettonica, 24–9; Wolf Tegethoff, ‘Art and
Style, language and meaning 197
national identity’, in Nation, Style, Modernism, ed. Jacek Purchla and Wolf Tegethoff
(Cracow: International Cultural Centre, 2006).
55 Thus, Henry-Russell Hitchcock defined the two forms of eclecticism in 1929 (quoted in
Etlin, Frank Lloyd Wright, 153).
56 Camillo Boito, ‘L’architettura della nuova Italia’, La Nuova Antologia XIX (1872), 767.
57 Herrmann, In What Style Should We Build?; Barbara Miller Lane, National Romanticism
and Modern Architecture in Germany and the Scandinavian Countries (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000); Anthony Alofsin, When Buildings Speak: Architecture
as Language in the Habsburg Empire and Its Aftermath, 1867–1933 (London: University
of Chicago Press, 2006), 17–54.
58 Maria Luisa Neri, ‘Stile nazionale e identità regionale nell’architettura dell’Italia post-
unitaria’, in La chioma della vittoria. Scritti sull’identità degli italiani dall’Unità alla
seconda repubblica, ed. Sergio Bertelli (Florence: Ponte alle Grazie, 1997).
59 Zucconi, L’invenzione, 96; Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’, 47; Axel Körner, Politics
of Culture in Liberal Italy: From Unification to Fascism (London: Routledge, 2009), 103–7.
60 On Selvatico, see: Franco Bernabei, Pietro Selvatico nella critica e nella storia delle arti
figurative dell’Ottocento (Vicenza: Neri Pozza editore, 1974); Maria Antonietta Crippa,
‘Appunti per la individuazione del carattere del neogotico e del medievalismo di Pietro
Selvatico’, in Il neogotico nel XIX e XX secolo, vol. 2, ed. Rossana Bossaglia and Valerio
Terraroli (Pavia: Mazzotta, 1989). For Boito, see: Liliana Grassi, Camillo Boito (Milan:
Il Balcone, 1959); Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 547–54; Meeks, Italian Architecture,
208–9; De Fusco, L’architettura, 116–18; Zucconi, L’invenzione and ‘Camillo Boito,
architetto e teorico della contaminazione stilistica’, in Tradizionalismi e regionalismi;
Francesca Castellani and Guido Zucconi, ed., Camillo Boito: Un’architettura per l’Italia
Unita (Venice: Marsilio, 2000); Tiziana Serena and Guido Zucconi, ed., Camillo Boito:
Un protagonista dell’Ottocento Italiano (Venice: Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti,
2002).
61 Pietro Selvatico, Sulla architettura e scultura in Venezia, dal Medio Evo sino ai nostri
giorni (Venice: Paolo Ripamonti Carpano, 1847), VII–VIII; Bernabei, Pietro Selvatico,
31–5 and 99–138; Zucconi, L’invenzione, 69–72.
62 Zucconi, L’invenzione, 21, 125–32; Vincenzo Fontana, ‘Boito e l’architettura del suo
tempo’, in Camillo Boito: Un protagonista, 37.
63 Grassi, Camillo Boito, 13; Zucconi, L’invenzione, 20, 47. For an opposing view, see:
Hanno-Walter Kruft, History of Architectural Theory (New York: Princeton Architectural
Press, 1994), 403.
64 Pietro Selvatico, Scritti d’arte (Florence: Barbera, Bianchi e Comp., 1859), 306; on
Selvatico’s influence, see: Bernabei, Pietro Selvatico, 99–145.
65 Selvatico, Scritti, 200; Camillo Boito, Architettura del Medio Evo in Italia con una
introduzione sullo stile futuro dell’architettura italiana (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1880),
V–XXI.
66 Boito, Architettura, XLVI. See also: Zucconi, L’invenzione, 147–53; Gabriella Guarisco,
‘Boito, da Parma (1870) a Milano (1872): L’esordio ai congressi’, Rileggere Camillo Boito,
oggi, special issue of Ananke Quadrimestrale 57 (May 2009), 21.
67 Duggan, The Force of Destiny, 94, 98–100; Körner, Politics of Culture, 121–2.
68 Selvatico, Scritti, 306.
69 Arturo Colombo and Carlo Monteleone, Carlo Cattaneo e il ‘Politecnico’. Scienza, cultura
e modernità (Milan: Franco Angeli, 1993); Maria Canella, ‘Verso uno stile nazionale.
Architettura e crescita urbana nei periodici lombardi preunitari’, in Il giornalismo lombardo
nel decennio di preparazione all’Unità, ed. Nicola Del Corno and Alessandra Porati (Milan:
Franco Angeli, 2005), 205.
70 Boito, ‘L’architettura della nuova Italia’, 766.
71 Contrasting tendencies can be seen in Boito’s projects for the cemetery of Gallarate (1864)
and for a retirement home for musicians (1895–1899) in Milan. See also: Fontana, ‘Boito’,
40–1; Guido Zucconi, ‘Boito contraddittorio profeta di un linguaggio minimalista’, in
Camillo Boito: Un’architettura per l’Italia unita, 72 and ‘Camillo Boito’, 129–30.
72 Meeks, Italian Architecture, 288–364; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 248–52.
73 Lavagnino, L’arte moderna, 396; Meeks, Italian Architecture, 210–12; De Fusco,
L’architettura dell’Ottocento, 103; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 134.
198 Style, language and meaning
74 E.V. [?], ‘Del gran camposanto di Napoli’, Annali civili del Regno delle Due Sicilie XLI
(1839), 84.
75 E.V. [?], ‘Del gran camposanto’, 87.
76 Ornella Selvafolta, ‘Il Cimitero Monumentale di Milano: Un progetto civico’, in Milano
1848–1898 ascesa e trasformazione della capitale morale, ed. Rosanna Pavoni and Cesare
Mozzarelli (Milan: Marsilio, 2000), 181; Pier Ambrogio Curti, ‘Illustrazione del progetto
di Alessandro Sidoli e del suo postumo perfezionamento’, Grandiosi progetti inediti,
supplement to Il Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (December 1855).
77 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, Il Crepuscolo VII, 15
(13 April 1856), 245; Curti, ‘Illustrazione’, no page numbers.
78 Paolo Mezzanotte and Giacomo Bescapè, Milano nell’arte e nella storia (Milan: Carlo
Bestetti, 1968), LXXXI–VI; De Fusco, L’architettura, 100–1; Ornella Selvafolta, ‘“Il
Giornale dell’Ingegnere-Architetto ed Agronomo” e la riflessione sull’architettura negli
anni cinquanta’, in Milano pareva deserta . . . 1848–1859. L’invenzione della patria, ed.
Roberto Cassanelli, Sergio Rebora and Francesca Valli (Milan: Edizione Comune di
Milano, 1999), 91–107; Canella, ‘Verso uno stile’.
79 Lyttelton, ‘Creating a national past’, 47.
80 Luca Beltrami, ‘Il Cimitero Monumentale’, Il Monitore Tecnico, I, 23–4 (1 November
1895), 7.
81 Rovani, ‘Il Cimitero di Milano’, 359; anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero
a Milano I’, 245.
82 Curti, ‘Illustrazione’, no page numbers.
83 Curti, ‘Illustrazione’; Viganò, ‘Progetto’.
84 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, 246.
85 Pier Ambrogio Curti, ‘Grandioso progetto di Camposanto per la città di Milano’, Giornale
dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo 2 (April 1855); Viganò, ‘Progetto’; anon. [Tenca],
‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’ and ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero
a Milano II’, Il Crepuscolo VII, 16 (20 April 1856). For a more objective account of
Austrian rule, see: Woolf, A History of Italy, 237–40; David Laven, Venice and Venetia
under the Habsburgs, 1815–1835 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 175–212.
86 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano II’, 260.
87 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano II’, 259.
88 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, 244.
89 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 May 1860, XXVIII, Tullo Massarani, ‘Commissione pel cimitero
monumentale’, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 69.
90 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 May 1860, Massarani, 70.
91 Ricci and D’Amia, ed., La cultura, 28; Kirk, The Challenge of Tradition, 91–2.
92 Beltrami, ‘Il Cimitero’, 8.
93 Milan, Archivio Civico, 25 July 1860, LXXXIV, Carlo Tenca, ‘Cimitero monumentale’,
177–8.
94 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 May 1860, Massarani, 70–1.
95 C.G. [?], ‘Sullo stile dei cimiteri’, Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (June
1856): 645.
96 Meeks, Italian Architecture, 207; Alofsin, When Buildings Speak, 17–29.
97 Antonio Beretta, ‘Programma per l’erezione di un grandioso cimitero per la città di Milano’,
Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo VIII (1860), 689–90.
98 Milan, Archivio Civico, 4 July 1862, XCV, Camillo Boito, ‘Rapporto della Commissione
aggiudicatrice dei premi ai progetti pei due cimiteri’, 223.
99 Milan, Archivio Civico, 22 Dec. 1863 (straordinaria) XXX, ‘Cimitero monumentale. Scelta
del progetto’, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 155.
100 Anon. [Tenca], ‘Del progetto di un pubblico cimitero a Milano I’, 246. See also: Milan,
Archivio Civico, 4 July 1862, Boito, 211; Milan, Archivio Civico, 25 July 1860, Tenca,
181.
101 Giuseppe Mazzini, I doveri dell’uomo (Rome: Camera dei deputati, 1972), 89–94.
102 Milan, Archivio Civico, 10 July 1863 (straordinaria), CXV, ‘Cimitero monumentale –
proposta per la scelta del progetto’, Atti del Consiglio Comunale, 255 and 259.
103 Milan, Archivio Civico, 10 July 1863, 256.
Style, language and meaning 199
104 Pavia, Musei Civici, Vincenzo Monti, ‘Appunti architettonici’, November 1876, no page
numbers.
105 Pavia, Musei Civici, Monti, ‘Appunti architettonici’.
106 Pietro Selvatico, Storia estetico-critica delle arti del disegno, vol. 2 (Venice: Naratovich,
1856), 192–8.
107 Padua, Archivio di Stato, atti comunali, Sanità, b. 1153. See also earlier in this chapter
and Tiziana Serena and Isabella Komac, ‘Il nuovo cimitero’, in Camillo Boito:
Un’architettura per l’Italia unita, 50–2.
108 Report of 13 February 1860 following a meeting of the local council on 27 December
1859 (Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 1153).
109 Pietro Selvatico, Sul futuro cimitero di Padova (Padua: Prosperini, 1860).
110 Meeting of 5 March 1860 (Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 1153).
111 Pietro Selvatico, ‘Del nuovo cimitero da erigersi in Padova’, Il Messaggiere di Rovereto
XXXXIX (1 August 1864), 3.
112 Unsigned and undated draft that appears to be in Selvatico’s handwriting (Padua, Archivio
di Stato, busta 1153).
113 Selvatico, Storia, vol. II, 386–7.
114 Unsigned and undated municipal document (Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 1153).
115 Relazione, 4.
116 Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 1153, Pietro Selvatico, ‘Voti Selvatico’, 9–10.
117 Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 1153, Camillo Boito, ‘Voti del Ing. Camillo Boito’, 8.
118 Padua, Archivio di Stato, busta 153, Andrea Scala, ‘Relazione dell’Ingegnere Architetto
Dott. Andrea Scala sopra i progetti di concorso pel Cimitero di Padova’, 1.
119 Meeks, Italian Architecture, 248; Zucconi, L’invenzione, 177–90; Zucconi, ‘Boito’, 72.
120 Boito, Architettura, IX–X.
121 Meeks, Italian Architecture, 237; De Fusco, L’architettura, 118; Ileana Gallucci, ‘Boito
a Gallarate, nel segno di una committenza illuminata’, in Camillo Boito: Un’architettura
per l’Italia unita, 76–9.
122 The quote is drawn from a letter of 1867 to the Mayor of Gallarate and is cited in Grassi,
Camillo Boito, 19.
123 Selvatico, Scritti, 304–6; Bernabei, Pietro Selvatico, 135–8.
124 Boito, Architettura, 1880, XXXI. See also: Boito, ‘L’architettura della nuova Italia’,
762–7 and 773; Zucconi, ‘Camillo Boito’, 133–6 and L’invenzione, 153.
125 Selvatico, Scritti, 309–11.
126 Selvafolta, ‘Il Cimitero Monumentale’, 185; Zucconi, L’invenzione, 156–7.
127 Ilaria Porciani, ‘Identità locale-identità nazionale: La costruzione di una doppia
appartenenza’, in Centralismo e federalismo tra Otto e Novecento: Italia e Germania a
confronto, ed. Oliver Janz, Pierangelo Schiera and Hannes Siegrist (Bologna: Il Mulino,
1997), 150; Riall, Risorgimento, 147–51; Körner, Politics of Culture, 27.
128 Teofilo Ossian De Negri, Storia di Genova (Milan: A. Martello, 1968), 771–8.
129 Caterina Olcese, ‘Il neogotico a Genova nelle cappelle e nei monumenti funerari del cimitero
di Staglieno’, in Il neogotico nel XIX e XX secolo, vol. 2, ed. Rossana Bossaglia and
Valerio Terraroli (Pavia: Mazzotta, 1989).
130 For example, the Tomati (1881) and Scorza (1901) tombs embody elements of Alessi’s
Church of S.M. Assunta in Carignano (1552).
131 Maria Flora Giubilei, ‘Materiali per una storia dell’architettura neogotica Genovese di
fine secolo’, in Il neogotico.
132 ‘Il Cittadino’ (6 March 1885), quoted in Clario Di Fabio, ‘Per un “vero stile medievale”:
Restauro e gusto archeologico nella cultura neomedievale’, in Il neogotico, 69–70.
133 Ferdinando Resasco, La Necropoli di Staglieno: Opera storica descrittiva-anedottica
(Genoa: Fratelli Pagano, 1900), 95. On the Villa Piaggio, see: Touring Club Italiano,
Liguria (Milan: Touring Editore, 1982), 185; Giubilei, ‘Materiali’, 62.
134 Enciclopedia Italiana, vol. XXVII (Rome: Istituto Giovanni Treccani, 1935), 99.
135 Mariano Bargellini, Storia popolare di Genova (Genoa: Enrico Monti, 1856–1857), vol.
1, 95–6, 337; vol. 2, 480, 632. A second edition was published in 1869–1870.
136 Juan Pablo Bonta, Architecture and Its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Systems in
Architecture (New York: Rizzoli, 1979), 91–100.
Conclusion

The nature of type


Between the mid-eighteenth and the late nineteenth century, the evolution of the Italian
cemetery as an architectural type gave rise to a series of formats, which may be
identified on the basis of their physical characteristics and the different cultural
and political contexts in which they evolved. As discussed above, the formats that
emerged in the 1700s, although not unique to Italy, had an influence on later Italian
developments. Thus, despite marked differences between Italy’s cemeteries of the
nineteenth century and those of its French and Austrian neighbours, it is important
to establish the genealogy of the monumental cemetery with respect to foreign
influences, earlier burial reforms and the architecture of French academies of the 1700s.
Eighteenth-century Italy witnessed the beginning of the suburbanisation and secular-
isation of burial practices, which signalled a decline of the power of the clergy and
of a tradition of church interment that supported the social hierarchies of the ancien
régime. In addition, the new cemeteries of the eighteenth century embodied influences
tied to the Enlightenment, and concerns that related to hygiene, demographic growth
and urban planning.
Eighteenth-century burial reforms resulted in the creation of Italian projects that
fell loosely into two groups. One group may be characterised by the idea of an ‘open
field’. If pushed to the limits of reduction and fitted with impenetrable boundaries,
that format allowed for the exclusion of religious interests, class differences, mourners
and even vegetation, thereby leaving only the wind as a welcome incursion that might
dissipate the miasmas of putrefaction. Ideologically, the simplicity of the walled field
could be dressed in the ideals of egalitarianism, or taken to express a more responsible
and ordered approach to a society and its dead. For example, the Cemetery of the
Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves (1762) in Naples was dedicated to the burial
of the poor, and the annual reopening of common graves on their appointed day,
together with the efficient mechanics of the burial process, expressed an egalitarian
and rationalist approach to death. At the San Cataldo cemetery (1771) in Modena,
equality was defined in terms of the inclusion of all social groups in mass graves and
the elimination of social distinctions between the dead. However, the case of Modena
also shows how Italy’s rulers converted egalitarianism into an opportunity to reduce
the power of the Church and the aristocracy through the creation of public burial
grounds, which threatened class and religious privileges. As with later cemeteries of
the nineteenth century, death and funerary practices played a role in the politics
of the living.
Conclusion 201
A second group of projects of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
took the form of unrealised designs created in French and Italian academies, which
promoted neoclassical visions of a utopian social order founded on meritocracy and
the use of funerary architecture as an instrument of social reform. Unlike the first
group, these academic projects were directed at the reformation, rather than the
removal, of social differences. Emphasis was placed on the idea of individual worth
and the notion of merit, which were expressed through a monumentality that was
intended to educate and encourage emulation of the meritorious. The marked physical
differences between egalitarian and meritocratic projects reflected differences in their
underlying political and cultural frameworks. Ultimately, meritocratic tendencies
proved to be more robust in that they foreshadowed the construction of impressive
private monuments and pantheons in the 1800s. Meritocratic ideals also constituted
a major component of nineteenth-century funerary sculpture that emphasised, for
instance, the success achieved by wealthy merchants or the charitable works of the
middle classes. In fact, that shift from the mass graves of egalitarianism to a bourgeois
interpretation of meritocracy might be taken to indicate major differences between
the sociopolitical structures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In tracing the passage between those structures, it is clear that Napoleonic legislation
cannot fully account for the creation of Italy’s monumental burial grounds. At best,
it paved the way for the ambitions of a bourgeoning middle class with respect to
funerary rituals, individual graves and elaborate monuments. Those demands were
reinforced by various cultural and social factors drawn from romanticism, a heightened
interest in death, and other anxieties and preoccupations of the bourgeoisie, which
were crystallised in bourgeois realist sculpture and its theatrical exhibitions of sorrow,
wealth, aspiration and familial love. Moreover, although Napoleonic law, romanticism
and the archetypical changes of modern society were common conditions across
nineteenth-century Europe, the force with which the monumental format was adopted
in Italy, and its precedence over the model of the garden cemetery, underlined the
political and cultural differences between Italy and other European states. Those
differences underpinned the role of Italian cemeteries as carriers of social codes and
symbols. While some of the forces that engendered the monumental cemeteries were
rooted in a previous time, or came from foreign occupiers, the nineteenth century saw
the evolution of a set of conditions that were specifically Italian, and a context within
which cemeteries were tied to local bourgeois culture and to a fledgling nation state.

The nature of meaning


The elements that defined the monumental cemetery as a type, such as style and the
organisation of space, changed in accordance with basic functional demands, but also
with the need to carry meanings that suited an evolving society. In that respect, the
notion of type can be used to show how architecture is always appropriate, or ‘up to
date’, in the transmission of meanings. For example, in the period between the
Restoration and the unification of Italy, cemeteries reflected political meanings that
were suitable to current conditions, as Italian designers shunned architectural traditions
associated with the French in favour of Roman and Italian sources. The adoption of
the Pantheon as a model illustrates how monumental cemeteries were clad in
architectural languages that were emblematic of Italy’s developing political structures.
The resulting Greco-Roman classicism insured a measure of conformity across a nation
202 Conclusion
that optimists might portray as united in its style and cultural associations. Equally,
the fact that unification brought an end to the promise of uniformity, and to the
predominance of neoclassicism, is evidence of the sensitivity of funerary architecture
to changes in an immediate context. As eclecticism flourished in the period beyond
the 1860s, the cemeteries of a united Italy were invested with meanings that were
appropriate to the ambitions and self-images of individual cities as they competed for
status within the new state, and attempted to sustain local interests in that shifting
political landscape. While the employment of local styles reinforced the value of
funerary architecture for communities and cities, the importance of the monumental
cemetery was enhanced by its role as an ‘analogous city’ that mirrored the spatial
and social organisation of its parent city. The monumental cemetery also acted as a
major social venue that ranked alongside other urban elements, such as the piazza,
park, opera house and the Great Exhibitions. In addition, it was overlaid with political
meanings that related to nationalism and the state, and to Italy’s status in an era marked
by international rivalry. The significance of the Italian cemeteries can be measured by
the extent to which the living awarded meaning to the architecture of the dead.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, Italian cemeteries moved away from
neoclassicism and debates regarding a national style to eclecticism and styles that
increased the symbolic value of cemeteries for local audiences. That move also resulted
in the partial erosion of stylistic homogeneity within individual cemeteries. The
number of private monuments erected by the middle classes, together with a developing
appetite for individuality, drove a tendency towards heterogeneity in architectural styles
– a tendency that was boosted as private monuments and chapels generally increased
in size. As a network of meanings, the monumental cemetery became less coherent,
particularly as the addition of new elements reflected a shift in favour of private
over public initiatives. The strength afforded by relatively homogeneous layouts and
a sense of collective unity was partly dissolved as priority was accorded to individual
needs and ambitions at the expense of a public realm. Thus, the centralising power
of nationalism was gradually offset by eclecticism and individualism as defined by the
bourgeoisie. The regularity of planned spatial frameworks was overlaid by the rising
tide of meanings that were embedded in bourgeois realist sculpture. Moreover, in
cemeteries that adopted a picturesque solution to the problem of extending onto hilly
ground, the uniformity of initial neoclassical layouts marked the ‘urban centres’ of
increasingly hybrid, and partly ‘suburbanised’, plans. In Genoa, Naples and Rome,
the individualism of the picturesque layout allowed for the creation of large and
elaborate private monuments, which detracted from the stylistic and spatial homo-
geneity of an original core.
Prior to the 1860s, Italian funerary architecture was largely oriented towards
neoclassical sources that were suited to nationalism and the spirit of the Risorgimento,
and which gave weight to patriotic ideals whose legitimacy was backed by references
to Italian historical traditions. Ultimately, the sense of unity afforded by neoclassicism
was overshadowed by regional and civic interests, and by a bourgeoisie whose literacy
in matters of architecture and history was a source of status and distinction. In that,
as in all other respects, the passage from neoclassicism to eclecticism may be defined
in terms of the evolution of a type, and of a system of meanings that drove the physical
development of that type. Italy’s monumental cemeteries demonstrate how archi-
tectural styles, as systems of physical elements and aesthetic norms, are adopted as
carriers of specific meanings. It is also clear that those meanings were not rooted in
Conclusion 203
the physical properties of a style, but originated in, and helped maintain, current
political and cultural processes. Hence, for example, the Doric order could be
associated with freedom in Genoa and with political subjugation in Milan. In those
and other cities, an examination of Italian funerary architecture demonstrates that
the associations ascribed to architectural languages may relate to their history or past
employments. As in the case of projects designed in Italian academies, or styles asso-
ciated with the Risorgimento, historical associations provided a ready-made source
of meanings that were harnessed to serve current needs. However, given that the
associative power of stylistic formats derived from the nature of individual and collec-
tive memories, or from how an architectural language was used in the past, the
meanings associated with a style could also provide grounds for its rejection by interests
that demanded other aesthetic conditions as a source of identity.
In general, factors associated with regime change or the rise of the bourgeoisie were
mirrored in the physical and symbolic characteristics of the cemetery as a body of
allied aesthetic and social meanings. On one level, the funerary architecture of united
Italy reflected the establishment of the nation state, tensions between the Church and
political interests, and between nationalism and regionalism. At another level, Italy’s
new cemeteries carried symbols that were implanted through social mechanisms and
the everyday ambitions of the rising middle classes. Moreover, underlying the forces
of social change, nation-building and local politics, there were cultural influences that
were rooted in romanticism, individualism and Italian attitudes to death and mortality.
In short, the architecture of monumental cemeteries embodied values and meanings
that operated at the level of the individual, the city and the state, and in relation to
a network of cultural, socio-economic and political contexts.

The nature of power


Above all, Italian cemeteries of the nineteenth century carried meanings that reflected
the nature of contemporary society and politics, and transferred those meanings to
an audience for which cemeteries had a particular significance. Whereas the emotive
face of funerary sculpture expressed the private needs of the bereaved, the major factors
that acted on Italian cemeteries were decidedly political and social in origin. Some
innovations in funerary design might appear to have been inherent to the world of
architecture, or to have emerged directly from practical and functional needs. In fact,
it is difficult to identify elements of Italy’s monumental cemeteries that were not in
some way influenced by sociopolitical forces. This book demonstrates the extent to
which those forces were concerned with power. The empowerment of a new state,
the competitive struggles between cities, and between clerical and secular authorities,
were translated into meanings that were carried by burial grounds as vehicles through
which interests might gain, or retain, power. Whether in terms of their formal
organisation or symbolic significance, the burial grounds of nineteenth-century Italy
were enrolled into an emergent nation at a number of different and interconnected
levels. They mirrored key structural conditions, and contributed to the establishment
of those conditions through their capacity to represent and sustain specific socio-
economic and political changes.
Politically, nineteenth-century Italy was ‘disturbed ground’. Its immediate history
was characterised by the French and Austrian occupations, the Risorgimento and a
process of unification, which involved the annexation of areas that had previously
204 Conclusion
enjoyed some degree of independence. Hence, power remained in a ‘liquid’ state, as
political, class and religious interests sought to acquire influence or to strengthen their
positions in struggles that played out in the theatre of Italy’s new cemeteries. Against
that backdrop, the political significance of the monumental cemeteries was enhanced
by the fact that they were tied to regime changes and shifts in the balance of power.
They were also taken to symbolise good government and, in the aftermath of
unification, they helped to foster patriotism through the honourable burial of Italian
heroes. The pantheons were perhaps the most obvious expression of political
imperatives, and the plaques that were hung on their walls represented a bid to
legitimise power through the construction of history and new civic and national
identities. Equally, the employment of regional architectural traditions followed, in
part, from efforts to promote local interests and to secure the power of cities and their
regions in the nation state. The tendency to reject classicism as a style associated
with rival or bygone political interests, or to establish medievalism as the medium of
a new political situation, can be interpreted in the light of the relationships between
style and power. In that they acted as vehicles of both local and national patriotism,
cemeteries expressed the difficulties that beset unification, and the rivalries that divided
Italy’s major cities. Italian monumental cemeteries also constituted a major platform
for the expression of power struggles between Church and state. As contested areas
in the ideological landscape of the new nation, the treatment and memory of the dead
gave rise to disputes that were exacerbated by the fact that public cemeteries were
largely state-owned, but administered by the clergy. Thus, conflicts between clerical
and political interests were played out with respect to the architecture and layout of
burial grounds, the provision of a Catholic church, the privileges awarded to Catholics
and restrictions imposed on non-Catholics. The tensions between clerical and state
authorities also centred around the development of crematoria, which secular interests
sought to promote and religious authorities to suppress. As a major shift in funerary
practice, cremation represented a zone of conflict in which conservative and Catholic
forces fought with liberals and freethinkers for space in Italy’s evolving culture.
The nature of power and of contemporary social conflicts was also exposed by the
impact of the bourgeoisie on Italian monumental cemeteries and the extent of its
investments in funerary architecture. The rise of the middle classes incorporated
tensions between Catholics and secularists, liberals and conservatives. It embodied
stresses that were characteristic of the evolution of modern Italian society, and which
marked the efforts of the bourgeoisie to bolster its position within the state. The
emergence of bourgeois realism in funerary sculpture provided evidence of the power
of the middle classes in the city, and of their use of art and architecture as media
through which they expressed their entrenchment in the new Italy. In addition to the
political factors that helped shape the layout of cemeteries, their buildings and
architectural languages, other more immediate, private imperatives were expressed
through monuments, tombs and the minutiae of commemoration. Quotidian social
forces filled the spaces between the large, and publicly funded, elements of the
cemetery. Those forces expanded the narrative or symbolic role of the cemetery through
the addition of meanings that sprang from the needs and aspirations of families and
individuals.
The monumental cemeteries lent expression both to bids for status on the part of
powerful families and to Italy’s efforts to win economic and political prestige in the
face of its international competitors. In that sense, they expressed conflicts and
Conclusion 205
rivalries that were local, national and international, and which functioned at the levels
of the individual or community. This book attempts to recognise those different levels
by switching between close-ups and long shots, or between investigations of the micro-
and macro-forces that shaped Italy’s cemeteries. It traces the impact of small-scale,
local and personal interests and of large-scale influences that were rooted, for instance,
in nationalism and the Enlightenment. This method also serves to highlight where
local realities diverged from the grand narratives of history and the state; for instance,
in the case of post-unification Genoa and the precedence given to local Gothic styles
over architectural models associated with national unity and a wider definition of
patriotism. While this microhistorical approach does not deny the existence of common
influences, it helps to expose how local and even personal factors intersected, and
sometimes challenged, the master narrative. Thus, for example, exposure of the forces
that defined power in nineteenth-century Genoa sheds some light on the role that
Italian cemeteries played at the level of the city. It also shows how local interests might
prevail over national concerns.
However, politics and power cannot fully account for the monumental cemetery,
nor for the nature of its individual elements, such as tombs and chapels, the pantheon
and the crematorium. By their nature, burial grounds are responsive to the imposition
of a wide range of symbolic functions and architectural solutions. The relative
simplicity and adaptability of their primary purpose of storing the dead means that
they can be fitted with a complex superstructure of social, cultural and political
functions. Hence, the imperatives that shaped Italy’s cemeteries sprang from the overall
conditions that defined Italian life. Those conditions determined, for example, the
triumph of the monumental over the garden cemetery – a choice that distinguished
Italian religious and aesthetic tendencies from those of neighbouring France and
countries of Northern Europe. Politics alone cannot explain the breadth and variety
of influences that affected funerary architecture. For instance, although the pantheon
was political in that it functioned to showcase the city and national identity, it also
expressed cultural values and attitudes to death that were hung on a ‘cult’ of the dead.
Similarly, the architecture of the crematorium cannot simply be described in terms of
conflicts between Church and state, or between cremationists and a conservative
opposition. The crematorium also reflected complex cultural meanings that set idealism
and the prospect of an enlightened society against images of damnation and a vengeful
Church. A full understanding of any factor that contributed to the making of Italy’s
monumental cemeteries, such as a society’s approach to death, cannot be gleaned from
any one set of determinants, or any single field such as culture, politics or life as
expressed in art or literature. Thus, this book draws on different disciplines and on
a breadth of sources that include funerary sculpture, graveyard poetry and the minutes
of municipal council meetings. In exploring the generative contexts that gave rise to
Italian monumental cemeteries, it is essential to underline the significance of power
and of political motives that operated in the ‘upturned soil’ of nineteenth-century Italy.
Yet, it is also important not to exaggerate the significance of specific influences and
to recognise that political, social and cultural imperatives operated in unison, albeit
that they may be identified on the basis of their relative weight in a network of
associated forces.
Due to that variety of influences, multiple meanings came to be expressed through
the medium of Italian funerary architecture. This leads to the issue of plurality, or to
the fact that Italy’s monumental cemeteries conveyed a complex web of values, which
206 Conclusion
related to the individual, family, community, nation and to the forces that bound
them together. For example, the monument to Antonietta Todde Pera, which was
erected in 1879 in the Bonaria cemetery in Cagliari, may be taken to commemorate
a young mother who died leaving three young orphans. It might also be interpreted
as a monument to an aspiring bourgeoisie, Christian beliefs or the virtues of
motherhood.

Figure Conclusion 1 Cagliari, Bonaria cemetery, monument to Antonietta Todde Pera,


Ambrogio Celi, 1879
Source: The author (2013)
Conclusion 207

Once again, that points to the importance of a sensitive and microhistorical approach
in order to illustrate how the meanings invested in Italy’s monumental cemeteries
responded to the needs of specific families or individuals, but also sprung from wide-
ranging or ‘macro’ forces associated, for instance, with liberalism, individualism or
the romantic treatment of the dead. As the product of a multiplicity of initiatives that
are set within a public and communally determined framework, burial grounds can
accommodate signs and meanings that relate to both personal and collective memories.
It is precisely those signs, which connect the individual, society and the state, that the
microhistorical approach can serve to unpack. A ‘multifocal lens’, which alternates
between a broad and narrow focus, can take account of widespread European factors
such as secularisation, nationalism and the rise of the bourgeoisie, the unique cocktail
of forces that stemmed from the nature of Italian politics and culture, and the private
sorrows that lent emotive force to funerary sculpture.
In essence, Italy’s monumental burial grounds functioned as theatres within which
‘micro’ and ‘macro’ forces came together within complex networks of interrelation-
ships. It is also important that those networks, and the processes through which
meanings were attached to Italian cemeteries, were never fixed in time or space.
At any moment, the values and signs embedded in the monumental cemetery were
subject to individual and local interpretation. Meanings were also lost, or rewritten,
by succeeding generations. The power of funerary architecture to carry and support
particular meanings in nineteenth-century Italy was underwritten by the strength of
specific forces that were fundamental to contemporary society and its politics. Italian
burial grounds demonstrated how the dead ‘participated’ in the lives of the living
through processes that were associated with the power of the city or state, and the
socialisation of individual expressions of grief. They carried meanings that sprang
from a wide range of connected cultural, socio-economic and political processes, which
characterised the nation at a particular point in its evolution. In short, Italy’s
monumental cemeteries show how architecture had the capacity to express, and
support, changes that underpinned a developing society and an emergent state.
Appendix: Catalogue

Catalogue 1

Bologna, Certosa
Dates of construction The convent of San Girolamo, founded in 1334 and suppressed in
1797, was converted into a civic cemetery in 1801
Designers Ercole Gasparini (1801, 1811), Angelo Venturoli (1816), Giuseppe
Tiburtini (1823), Luigi Marchesini (1833), Coriolano Monti
(1860s), Antonio Dallolio (1878), and Gennaro Buriani and Arturo
Carpi (1932)
Main characteristics Renaissance cloisters, built between the 1300s and 1500s, were used
to house wall-monuments. The church of San Girolamo was kept as
the cemetery’s main chapel. In 1816–1833, the refectory was
converted into a sepulchral chamber and the chapterhouse into a
chapel. A pantheon was built in 1823–1825. Significant additions
(the Galleria degli Angeli and the Galleria a Tre Navate) were
constructed in the 1860s. An ossuary for soldiers of the Great War
was begun under fascism in 1932.
Burial types Interment and wall-monuments. Edicole from the late nineteenth
century
Crematorium Built in 1889 with classical ornamentation. Cinerarium added in
1913
Dominant styles Renaissance, neo-Renaissance and neoclassicism

Figure C.1 Certosa cemetery and sanctuary of San Luca


Source: Zecchi (1828)
Catalogue 209

Catalogue 2

Brescia, Vantiniano
Dates of construction 1815–1856 (on the site of a modest burial ground of 1810)
Designer Rodolfo Vantini
Main characteristics The earliest purpose-built monumental cemetery in Italy, it
comprises a porticoed quadrangle fronted by a semicircular
forecourt. Named after the architect, the cemetery was developed
according to Vantini’s original project and homogeneity was
achieved through a strict control over private monuments. The main
chapel by the entrance combines features of the Pantheon and the
Parthenon, and was connected to a main road by a tree-lined avenue
in 1825. Lateral courts were added in 1836–1845. A 60-metre-tall
Doric column (1849–1856) based on the ancient lighthouse of
Alexandria stands at the centre of the main quadrangle. A pantheon
was built in 1869–1910. Free-standing chapels, or edicole, were not
permitted until 1925.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, loculi. Edicole after 1925
Crematorium Neoclassical (1883)
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.2 Aerial view


Source: © Google Earth
210 Catalogue

Catalogue 3

Cagliari, Bonaria
Dates of construction 1827–1829
Designers Luigi Damiano (1827), Enrico Marchesi (1835), Gaetano Cima
(1856, 1860)
Main characteristics The cemetery, which opened in 1828, is on the site of an ancient
necropolis that was used by the Punics, the Romans and the early
Christians from around the fourth century BC until the sixth century
AD. Construction proceeded in parallel with archaeological
excavations, which highlighted the heritage of the site and enhanced
its status as a monument. The original core comprises a porticoed
court with a chapel at its centre. Further courts were added in 1835,
1856 and 1868. A stepped expansion of the 1860s covered an
adjoining hill. Edicole were erected at the base and apex of the
slope. In 1885, a local veterans’ group, the Società dei Reduci delle
Patrie Battaglie, funded the construction of a special area designated
for the burial of local heroes.
Burial types Interment and mausolea. Loculi from 1866. Edicole from late
nineteenth century
Dominant styles Neoclassicism. Minor neo-Romanesque addition in 1920

Figure C.3 Chapel


Source: The author (2013)
Catalogue 211

Catalogue 4

Chiavari
Dates of construction 1892–1894
Designer Gaetano Moretti
Main characteristics It is significant as a monumental cemetery that was built for a small
town, and which followed from a single plan rather than from
piecemeal projects. It is also notable as an axial layout that was
arranged along a steep, sloping site. A central axis leads through a
field for interment to a stepped, monumental structure, which
accommodates loculi. Midway up the hill, a small neo-Romanesque
chapel is located within an octagonal piazza.
Burial types Interment, loculi, edicole
Dominant style Eclectic neo-Romanesque

Figure C.4 Main avenue and chapel


Source: The author (2010)
212 Catalogue

Catalogue 5

Como
Dates of construction 1840s–1850s (on the site of a cemetery of 1813)
Designer Luigi Tatti
Main characteristics Three stepped courts, surrounded by rusticated, astylar porticoes,
are arranged longitudinally to fit a narrow, sloping site. The main
chapel is loosely based on the Pantheon in that it comprises a
temple-front and a shallow dome.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, edicole
Dominant style Doric neoclassicism

Figure C.5 Luigi Tatti’s original design of 1840s


Source: Pier Ambrogio Curti, ‘Cimitero comunale della R. Città di Como’, in Grandiosi progetti inediti,
supplement to Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e Agronomo III (December 1855)
Catalogue 213

Catalogue 6

Cremona
Dates of construction 1828–1860s
Designers Luigi Voghera (1821), Vincenzo Marchetti (1860s)
Main characteristics As at the Vantiniano cemetery in Brescia, a degree of uniformity was
achieved by adhering to the original neoclassical design. However,
due to cost and other practical issues, the project remained largely
unexecuted. Whereas the entrance and main chapel were never built,
two porticoes were constructed that were cross-shaped in plan and
arched with an engaged Doric order. Expansion began in 1862 to
the designs of Vincenzo Marchetti.
Burial types Interment, family chapels within the arcades, loculi (from 1866)
Crematorium Neoclassical (1880–1883)
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.6 Luigi Voghera’s original project of 1821


Source: Pier Ambrogio Curti, ‘Il camposanto di Cremona ed il progetto di ampliamento dell’architetto
cremonese Luigi Voghera’, Grandiosi progetti inediti, supplement to Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto e
Agronomo III (December 1855)
214 Catalogue

Catalogue 7

Ferrara, Certosa
Dates of construction Established in 1811 within a suppressed Carthusian monastery
(begun in 1452), which was adapted to serve as a public cemetery in
1807–1813
Designers Engineers Antonio Foschini and Giuseppe Campana (1807),
Ferdinando Canonici (redevelopment from 1830)
Main characteristics In 1807–1813, the monastic cells flanking the cloister were
converted into sepulchral chapels. Canonici’s project of 1830
imposed greater symmetry on the plan by adding a second court to
mirror the Renaissance cloister and a semicircular portico along the
main façade. His design matched the neo-Cinquecento style of the
original buildings. Canonici’s plan of 1851 to build landscaped
additions was not executed. Expansion in the twentieth century
allowed for the accommodation of edicole and a crematorium.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, and family chapels under the porticoes.
Edicole from the late 1800s. Loculi from 1962
Dominant styles Renaissance and neo-Renaissance

Figure C.7 Portico, Ferdinando Canonici, 1830s


Source: The author (2012)
Catalogue 215

Catalogue 8

Florence, Porte Sante


Dates of construction 1848, 1864
Designers Niccolò Matas (1840), Mariano Falcini (1863)
Main characteristics Lacking an organised plan, Porte Sante is composed of irregular
burial fields that accommodate monuments in different styles. Built
by a religious confraternity on a hill overlooking Florence, the site
was originally encircled by Renaissance fortifications and is set
within the grounds of the monastery of San Miniato al Monte,
which incorporates architecture dating from the eleventh to fifteenth
centuries. Unlike other monumental cemeteries, Porte Sante resulted
from private initiatives, and was reserved for the wealthy until 1911
when it became municipal property. In line with the adjacent church
of San Miniato, the prevailing style is neo-Quattrocento and is
characterised by black-and-white polychromy.
Burial types Interment, free-standing monuments and loculi
Dominant styles Eclecticism, with a prevalence of neo-Renaissance styles

Figure C.8 Private tombs


Source: The author (2010)
216 Catalogue

Catalogue 9

Gallarate
Dates of construction 1865–1869
Designer Camillo Boito (1864)
Main characteristics The cemetery of Gallarate was commissioned by Andrea Ponti, a
textile magnate and mayor to the city. It was among a small number
of late nineteenth-century public burial grounds that were funded by
industrialists. It afforded the architect and theorist Camillo Boito an
opportunity to concretise his ideas regarding funerary design. The
result was a rational and simple project in a stripped interpretation
of Lombard Romanesque, which is known as stile Boito (Boito
style).
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, edicole
Dominant style Neo-Romanesque

Figure C.9 Ponti family chapel


Source: Courtesy of Alessio Boschet (2016)
Catalogue 217

Catalogue 10

Genoa, Staglieno
Dates of construction 1844–1860s. Expanded 1870s–1890s
Designers Carlo Barabino (1833), Giovanni Battista Resasco (1840), Agostino
Allegro (partially executed extension designed in 1877), Gino
Coppedè, Giuseppe Predasso and Giuseppe de Gaspari (1889)
Main characteristics The original project of 1833 was altered in 1835 after the death of
its creator Carlo Barabino by his pupil Giovanni Battista Resasco.
The final design of the 1840s established the neoclassical core of the
cemetery on a flat site next to the river Bisagno. It consisted of a
porticoed quadrangle with a church (1861–1870) that was modelled
on the Pantheon and placed opposite a monumental entrance.
During the 1870s, the cemetery expanded on an adjacent hill,
creating a boschetto irregolare (irregular woodland) where family
chapels were erected within a picturesque setting. Further extensions
were undertaken in 1889–1897 and over the course of the twentieth
century.
Burial types Wall-monuments and interment. Edicole from the 1870s
Crematorium Neoclassical (Demetrio Paernio, 1903)
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.10 Entrance façade


Source: The author (2009)
218 Catalogue

Catalogue 11

Livorno, La Cigna
Dates of construction 1806, 1816, 1891
Designers Riccardo Calocchieri (1807), Angelo Unis (1882, alterations in
1891)
Main characteristics Founded in 1806, the cemetery was little more than a walled field
until 1816, when a portico was built to the design of Riccardo
Calocchieri. The current framework is the result of a project by
Angelo Unis that was initiated in 1891. As at the Staglieno cemetery
in Genoa, a large court is encircled by two ‘layers’ consisting of an
internal colonnaded portico that is punctuated by family chapels,
and an external gallery for the accommodation of loculi. The main
and subsidiary chapels are modelled on the Pantheon.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments (from 1816), loculi (from 1891),
twentieth-century edicole
Crematorium In 1883, a secondary chapel was adapted to accommodate a
crematorium. A new crematorium was built in 1913–1916
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.11 Internal portico


Source: The author (2011)
Catalogue 219

Catalogue 12

Lucca
Date of construction Begun 1811 (on the site of a hospital cemetery established in 1774)
Designers Lorenzo Nottolini (1823), Giovanni Lazzarini (1823), Cesare
Lazzarini (1844, 1874)
Main characteristics The cemetery contains a large arcaded court, punctuated by Ionic
pilasters and small domed chapels with temple-fronts. The court was
constructed in 1844–1865 to the designs of Cesare Lazzarini and it
enclosed an earlier portico of 1823 designed by Cesare’s father,
Giovanni Lazzarini, which was later demolished. A smaller forecourt
is defined by three chapels. The central chapel (Lorenzo Nottolini,
1823) was built as the burial place of the Paglicci Orsetti family.
The church and pantheon that flank it on either side were designed
by Cesare Lazzarini and built in 1874–1875. The cemetery was
expanded in the twentieth century.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments and private chapels within the structure
of the enclosure. Loculi and edicole from the late 1800s
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.12 Main court


Source: The author (2011)
220 Catalogue

Catalogue 13

Messina, Gran Camposanto


Dates of construction 1865–1872
Designer Architect Leone Savoja (1854)
Main characteristics As the name suggests, it was a showcase project that was aimed at
the creation of a large, monumental cemetery. Hampered by
financial limitations and only partially completed, it comprised a
monumental entrance and a horseshoe-shaped famedio. In addition,
a neo-Gothic chapel was built at the centre of a symmetrically
arranged field for burial. The burial ground is currently in a state of
disrepair following the earthquake of 1908, which damaged the
half-built famedio.
Burial types Interment, vaults
Dominant styles Classicism and neo-Gothic

Figure C.13 Entrance


Source: Courtesy of Gavin Stamp (2016)
Catalogue 221

Catalogue 14

Milan, Monumentale
Dates of construction 1863–1866
Designer Carlo Maciachini (1863)
Main characteristics It is notable as the first Italian cemetery in a predominantly neo-
medieval style, and as an early example of a relatively loose
approach to planning that was characteristic of later monumental
cemeteries. The entrance consists of a portico with projecting wings
and a central famedio (1869), and it screens an open field with
freestanding monuments and chapels arranged haphazardly within
an axial grid. An ossuary (1871–1874) and a crematorium (1875)
were built on an axis with the famedio. Areas designated for non-
Catholics are located on either side of the entrance portico.
Burial types Wall-monuments and loculi under the porticoes, edicole and
freestanding monuments within the open fields
Crematorium The first official crematorium in Europe since antiquity was built in
1876 to a Greek revival design by Carlo Maciachini
Dominant styles Eclectic medievalism combining Lombard Romanesque and
Byzantine

Figure C.14 Aerial view, 1935


Source: Milan, Civico Archivio Fotografico, D 2266 (© Milan, Civiche Raccolte Grafiche e Fotografiche)
222 Catalogue

Catalogue 15

Modena, San Cataldo


Dates of construction 1771–1773, 1858, 1971–1976
Designers Giovanni Francesco Zannini and Pomponio Calori (1771), Cesare
Costa (1855), Aldo Rossi and Gianni Braghieri (1971)
Main characteristics Originally, the cemetery was a bare, enclosed and ‘egalitarian’ burial
field with communal vaults that were raised above ground.
Monuments and a chapel were built after 1778. Redevelopment,
begun in 1858, resulted in a large rectangular court surrounded by a
Doric portico and a central chapel that was modelled on the
Pantheon. A new entrance and an extension were initiated in 1913.
The 1970s brought a major expansion.
Burial types Vaults, wall-monuments (from 1778), loculi and edicole from the
early 1800s
Dominant styles Neoclassicism and neo-Rationalism

Figure C.15 Main court, Cesare Costa, 1858


Source: The author (2012)
Catalogue 223

Catalogue 16

Naples, Poggioreale
Dates of construction 1813–1840
Designers Francesco Maresca (1812), Luigi Malesci and Ciro Cuciniello (1834)
Main characteristics Established in 1813 as a cemetery for those with economic means, it
was initially made up of two small courts (Francesco Maresca,
1813–1820s) to which were added a large cloister surrounded by a
Doric portico (Luigi Malesci and Ciro Cuciniello, 1835–1840) and a
chapel (Luigi Malesci, 1870s). In the 1830s, it was extended
downhill with a picturesque addition to its neoclassical core. Within
that extension, families, individuals and confraternities built the first
edicole, or free-standing chapels, thereby foreshadowing a
development in Italian funerary design of the late 1800s. As one of
few Italian monumental cemeteries to incorporate a landscaped area,
its evolution differed from that of the Staglieno (Genoa) or the
Verano (Rome), which were extended uphill. At the lower end of the
cemetery, a monumental entrance (Stefano Gasse, 1839) was built in
the form of a Doric gateway set within a semicircular arcade. Built
in 1842 to the designs of Leonardo Larghezza, a neo-Gothic friary,
named the ‘Conventino’, is noteworthy as an early example of the
adoption of medievalism for a main building in an Italian cemetery.
Burial types Vaults. Edicole and mausolea (from 1837)
Dominant style Neoclassicism

Figure C.16 Aerial view


Source: © Google Earth
224 Catalogue

Catalogue 17

Naples, Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves


Dates of construction 1762–1763. Alterations in 1860 and 1871
Designer Ferdinando Fuga
Main characteristics This suburban burial ground for the poor was initiated during a
cholera epidemic in 1762. It reflected a policy of enlightened
reformism and a rationalist attitude to the problems of hygiene. Its
design was highly innovative in that separate communal vaults were
used for each day of the year (including leap years), thus limiting the
risk of infection. The vaults were arranged in a square grid and
marked by numbers. Within the façade, three groin-vaulted spaces
functioned respectively as an entrance, a chapel and a mortuary
chamber. In 1875, a machine was introduced to counteract the
indignity of burying the dead without coffins. It consisted of a
reusable metal coffin that was lowered into the vaults by means of a
pulley and then opened through the use of a ‘trapdoor’. In use until
1890, the cemetery is largely unadorned, bar some minor classical
decoration. It was complimentary to another royal project, also
designed by Ferdinando Fuga, in the form of a colossal poorhouse
or Albergo dei Poveri (1751).
Burial type Communal interment
Dominant style Limited neoclassical ornament

Figure C.17 Vault covering


Source: The author (2012)
Catalogue 225

Catalogue 18

Padua, Cimitero Maggiore


Dates of construction 1880–1882 (alterations in 1898)
Designers Enrico Holzner (1865), Daniele Donghi (1898)
Main characteristics Established on the site of an earlier burial ground (1811–1812,
designed by Antonio Noale), this Lombard Romanesque project of
1865 was the product of a competition and the result of a lengthy
debate concerning the most appropriate style. Created by Enrico
Holzner, it was built in 1880–1882 in collaboration with the
engineer Giovanni Britto. Its main façade adopted a similar layout to
the Monumentale cemetery (1863) in Milan and comprised a
horseshoe-shaped portico with a chapel at its centre. An arcaded
rectangular court accommodated graves and edicole. One side of the
enclosure was completed to Holzner’s design, and comprises wall-
monuments under arcades. The other three sides followed a project
(1898) by Daniele Donghi and accommodated both wall-monuments
and loculi.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, edicole. Loculi from 1898
Dominant style Lombard Romanesque
Crematorium Built in 1884 (Enrico Holzner)

Figure C.18 Portico


Source: The author (2012)
226 Catalogue

Catalogue 19

Pavia, monumental cemetery


Dates of construction 1879–1912
Designers Vincenzo Monti and Angelo Savoldi (1877)
Main characteristics The entrance façade is akin to that of the Monumentale cemetery
(1863) in Milan in that a famedio stands at the centre of a portico.
The layout is relatively traditional, and consists of a rectangular
portico that accommodates wall-monuments under arcades.
However, the style is innovative, as it reflected the adoption of
medievalism in Lombardy-Venetia after Italian unification. The
cemetery at Pavia was at the centre of debates between anticlerical
interests and supporters of the Church. The secular nature of the
cemetery was preserved until 1912, when a Catholic chapel was
built to a neo-Gothic design (Angelo Savoldi, 1909) in a central
location in line with the entrance.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments, free-standing mausolea
Crematorium Eclectic (Angelo Savoldi, 1901)
Dominant styles A combination of neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic

Figure C.19 View towards entrance


Source: The author (2012)
Catalogue 227

Catalogue 20

Pisa, Cimitero Suburbano


Dates of construction 1782–1783
Designers Giovanni Andreini and Giovanni Domenico Riccetti
Main characteristics Founded in response to legislation of 1782 that abolished church
interment and lay down guidelines for the creation of suburban
burial grounds, the Cimitero Suburbano was initially minimal and
unadorned. A walled field accommodated a simple chapel and four
communal burial vaults that were elevated above marshy ground.
In 1850, two further vaults and an enclosing portico were added.
A second arcade, which encircled the first, was built in 1863. A
non-Catholic area was built in 1883–1885 and further expansions
followed in 1890–1920.
Burial types Interment, wall-monuments (after 1850), loculi (after 1863), edicole
(after 1890)
Crematorium In the non-Catholic area, neo-Doric (Giuseppe Venini, 1883–1885)
Dominant style Originally astylar. Later additions are neoclassical

Figure C.20 View towards entrance


Source: The author (2010)
228 Catalogue

Catalogue 21

Rome, non-Catholic cemetery


Dates of construction 1716, 1822, 1894
Main characteristics Located in Testaccio in Rome, next to the pyramid of Cestius
(18–12 BC), the cemetery was established around 1716 for the burial
of non-Catholics who were traditionally excluded from interment
within the city walls. Like other non-Catholic burial grounds, it is
private. The oldest section (parte antica) was arranged in a manner
akin to a church graveyard. When this was closed to new burials in
1821, the cemetery was extended onto a nearby hill according to the
landscaped format of the garden cemetery, which was popular in the
Protestant countries of Northern Europe. The site was enclosed in
1824 and extended in 1856 and 1894. A chapel was built in 1898.
The non-Catholic cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico) was also known as
the Cimitero Protestante (Protestant cemetery) or the Cimitero degli
Inglesi (English cemetery)
Burial type Interment with free-standing monuments
Dominant style A picturesque landscape accommodates an eclectic range of tombs

Figure C.21 Original core


Source: The author (2012)
Catalogue 229

Catalogue 22

Rome, Verano cemetery


Dates of construction 1811, 1838, 1855–1864
Designer Virginio Vespignani (1855)
Main characteristics Although established in 1811 by the Napoleonic administration,
little was built of an initial project designed by Raffaele Stern and
later altered by Giuseppe Valadier. The cemetery initially consisted
of an unadorned field with burial vaults. In 1836, it was designated
as Rome’s main Catholic cemetery. However, a redevelopment
project, of 1838, by Gaspare Salvi was also unsuccessful. After
1855, the cemetery was restructured according to a project by
Virginio Vespignani. An arcaded quadrangle in a neo-Renaissance
style was built in 1856–1874, and a monumental gateway was set
on an axis with the centrepiece of that quadrangle – a church (1860)
modelled on the nearby early Christian Basilica of San Lorenzo.
In the 1870s, the cemetery was enlarged by means of an irregular,
landscaped area called the Pincetto Nuovo, which accommodated
edicole and free-standing monuments.
Burial types Vaults and interment. Wall-monuments (from 1856). Edicole, loculi
and free-standing mausolea (from the 1870s)
Crematorium Neo-Egyptian (Salvatore Rosa, 1883)
Dominant style Classicism largely based on early Christian and Renaissance models

Figure C.22 Entrance


Source: The author (2012)
230 Catalogue

Catalogue 23

Turin, monumental cemetery


Dates of construction 1828–1830, 1841–1866, 1880–1881, 1883, 1892
Designers Gaetano Lombardi (1827), Carlo Sada (1841), Carlo Ceppi (1863)
Main characteristics The original core of the cemetery is a porticoed, octagonal court
with neo-Egyptian motifs. The entrance façade is centred on a
chapel that is based on the Pantheon. In 1841, a second cloister,
surrounded by a Doric portico, was initiated to designs by Carlo
Sada. Between 1863 and 1866, a third court was built according to
a Lombard-Romanesque project by Carlo Ceppi. That expansion
marked the introduction of eclecticism into the cemetery. Further
extensions followed in 1880–1881, 1883 and 1892, which resulted
in a pattern of interlocking courts.
Burial types Wall-monuments and interment. Edicole (from 1841)
Crematorium Neoclassical (Pompeo Marini, 1888), expanded in 1898 by Daniele
Donghi
Dominant styles Neoclassicism with Egyptian motifs. Lombard-Romanesque
expansion

Figure C.23 Entrance façade, Gaetano Lombardi, 1827


Source: The author (2011)
Catalogue 231

Catalogue 24

Venice, San Michele in Isola


Dates of construction 1809–1813, 1825, 1835–1839, 1870
Designers Giannantonio Selva (1808), Annibale Forcellini (1858)
Main characteristics Founded by Napoleon in 1807 on the Island of San Cristoforo della
Pace, which was the site of a suppressed fourteenth-century
monastery and of a Protestant cemetery of 1719. When opened in
1813, the new burial ground consisted of walled fields with a small
octagonal chapel and two neo-Egyptian portals that were built
according to a partially executed project of 1808 by Giannantonio
Selva. In 1825, the cemetery was extended onto the Island of San
Michele, where the fifteenth-century buildings of the San Michele
monastery were adapted for the purpose of burial. The two islands
were joined by landfill in 1835–1839. The burial ground was rebuilt
from 1870 according to a relatively modest neo-Gothic design of
1858 by Annibale Forcellini, which included a court with a plan
based on a Greek cross. In the 1880s, a neo-medieval church was
built within that main court, and a neo-Renaissance entrance was
constructed in an adjoining semicircular exedra. The cemetery of
San Michele is unique among Italy’s monumental burial grounds due
to its insular location, the modest scale of its tombs and the lack of
free-standing monuments and chapels. The latter may be ascribed
to restrictions on available space and the absence of porticoes that
might shield monuments from the elements.
Burial types Interment and wall-monuments
Crematorium Planned from 1877, but begun in 1892
Dominant styles Neo-Renaissance, Renaissance, neo-Gothic

Figure C.24 View from Cannaregio


Source: The author (2012)
232 Catalogue

Catalogue 25

Verona
Dates of construction 1828–1844, 1870s
Designer Giuseppe Barbieri (1827)
Main characteristics As at Brescia, this burial ground is notable in that it was largely
completed in line with the neoclassical project of the original
designer. It comprised a quadrangle encircled by a Doric portico that
was accessed through a monumental entrance. Two semicircular
exedras flanked the main court. One was built for the interment of
children, and was destroyed in 1910 to make way for a process of
expansion begun in the 1870s. The other was reserved for the burial
of Austrian soldiers in 1829–1866. The main chapel opposite the
entrance combines features of the Pantheon, the Parthenon and
Canova’s temple at Possagno. After Barbieri’s death in 1838, the
project was completed by Francesco Ronzani.
Burial types Interment and wall-monuments. Edicole were forbidden within the
original courts, but were permitted in a later expansion
Crematorium Built in 1887
Dominant styles Neo-Renaissance and Greco-Roman classicism

Figure C.25 View from entrance


Source: The author (2010)
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Index

absolutism 10, 15, 19–21, 25, 32, 53 atheism 128–30, 133, 154
academic architecture: French influence 43, Austrians: architectural style 151, 171–7;
49, 151–3, 181; funerary projects 14–15, burial reform 9–10, 17, 19–21; legislation
21–5, 53, 57, 110, 200–1; Pantheon 163, 37, 53, 159; rule 32, 35, 105–6, 109, 232
166; portico 51; work 67, 120
acroteria 137 Barabino, Carlo 86, 95, 156, 217
aesthetics: crematoria 133–4, 136, 140; Barberi, Giuseppe 195
neoclassicism 46, 66; picturesque 167; Barbieri, Giuseppe: Catalogue 232;
politics 193 publication 84; stylistic choice 109, 159,
afterlife 6, 10, 129 165–6; Verona monumental cemetery 42,
Alessi, Galeazzo 184 55, 89
Alfieri, Vittorio 115 baroque 22, 165
allegorical figures 68 bas-relief 63
Allegro, Agostino 217 Basilica of San Lorenzo see Rome
Aluisetti, Giulio 173–7 Beltrami, Luca 106, 120
Amati, Carlo 156 Benjamin, Walter 6, 8, 83, 100–1
Amati, Marco 156 bereavement 52, 54, 74, 134, 203
America, North 25–6, 43, 46 birthright 21, 23, 67
Andreini, Giovanni 227 Boito, Camillo: Catalogue 216; eclecticism
angels 68, 79 169; Milan famedio 125; medievalism
annexation of Rome 35, 111, 130, 132, 162, 170–71, 177–9, 181–4, 193; Padua
180 cemetery 46
anticlericalism: and burial reform 10–11; Bologna: archaeology 118; Clementina
Catalogue 226; cremation 131–3, 141–2; Academy 24, 85, 165; Certosa cemetery
opera 86; politics 128–9; and provision of 36, 39–40, 58, 61, 63, 109, 208; civic
chapel 42 pride 105–7; crematorium 137, 141; elite
antiquity 152, 154, 163, 167, 170, 174, 12–13; heroes 120, 122, 126–8; portico
185 105; romanticism 53, 56; travel guides 85;
Antolini, Giovanni Antonio 153 urban planning 90
arcade 90, 223, 227 Bonaria see Cagliari
archaeology 118 Boullée, Etienne-Louis 155
architects: role 14; selection 107; stylistic Bourbon monarchy 15, 161
choice 134, 154, 173, 176, 183, 193; texts Bourdieu, Pierre 6
84 bourgeoisie: aspirations 37, 50–2, 54,
Ariès, Philippe 6, 12, 25, 52, 72 57–61; cremation 132–3, 142, 151;
aristocracy: cremation 133; decline 36, 57; funerary sculpture 68, 72–5, 77, 79–80,
distinction 23, 39, 61, 65; resistance to 85; relationship to city 86–7, 91, 93; role
reform 13, 17, 19–20, 45 63, 66, 104, 108–9; tombs 45, 170, 177,
art nouveau 170 185; work 24
256 Index
Brescia: cremation 136; famedio 120; clergy: burial reform 11–14, 18–20, 63;
funerary sculpture 69, 73, 77, 115–16; conflict with the state 35–6, 114, 128–30;
local patriotism 106, 109; loculi 40, 61; cremation 132–3, 141–2, 144; privileges
neoclassicism 162–4, 169, 173, 180; 23; style 151, 162
pyramid 153–4; town planning 90–1; Clericetti, Celeste 131, 136
Vantiniano cemetery 36–7, 42, 50, 120, clothes, mourning 68, 73, 153
209, 213, 232 coffin 14, 17, 86, 134, 224
Britain 44, 56, 131, 170 collective memory: commemoration 79,
Brompton cemetery see London 83–4; historicism 134, 151, 203, 207;
burial reform see reform photography 75; space 40, 49
Byzantine 142, 169, 171, 177, 180, 182, columbarium 40, 43, 135, 141
221 column 24, 120, 136, 141, 209
commemoration: individual 49; heroes 111,
Cagliari: Bonaria cemetery 3, 106, 108–9, 115, 118–9, 121–2, 124, 126–8, 144;
117–8, 130, 206, 210 romanticism 36, 39, 50, 52–7
Calori, Pomponio (Count) 50–1, 222 commodification 63, 73
Cambridge, MA: Auburn cemetery 26 commune (medieval city state) 125, 176
Campana, Giovanni 22–4, 195, 214 Como: monumental cemetery 38, 48, 96,
Campania (region) 57 162, 212; patriotism 56, 85, 107;
campanilismo 106, 117 proposal for garden cemetery 43, 45
campo santo (term) 130; see also Pisa: competition (architectural): academic 22–4;
Campo Santo briefs 51, 60–1; Padua 46, 105; style 153,
Camporese, Giuseppe 59 156, 160, 163, 167, 173–4, 176–7, 180–1
Canova, Antonio 115, 154, 163–4, 232 competitiveness see rivalry 106
Carducci, Giosuè 118 Concorso Clementino 22–4, 67, 156, 163,
carriages, funerary 63–4, 83 195
Carthusian monastery 39, 214 confraternities 61, 67, 108–9, 130, 215, 223
catacombs 23, 53 conservatism 108, 133, 142, 151, 155,
Catholic Church: burial reform 12; and 204–5
cemeteries 42, 44–6; cremation 133, contamination see infection
141–2, 144; rituals 84; and the state 34–5, Conventino see Naples
110, 114–5, 128–30, 204 Coppedè, Gino 95, 217
Cattaneo, Carlo 125, 171 Corbi, Augusto 135
Cavalletto, Alberto 180 Corinthian order 163
Cavallotti, Felice 132 corpse 14, 36, 38, 46, 53, 131, 135
Cavour, Camillo (Count) 125 Cosenz, Enrico 112, 115
cenotaphs 43, 56, 125 councillors 173
censorship 174 council see municipal council
centralisation 21, 83, 106, 171 cremation 130–7, 140–2
Cestius, Gaius 44, 152–3, 228 crematorium: architecture 133–44;
chapterhouse 208 Catalogue 208–9, 213–14, 217–18, 221,
Charles of Bourbon (King of Naples) 15 225–7, 229–32; Milan 131
Chiavari: monumental cemetery 48, 211 Cremona: monumental cemetery 45, 107,
chimney (crematorium) 136–7, 140, 142 109, 136, 156, 163, 213
cholera 15, 156, 224 cult of the dead 110, 112, 115, 127, 146
church burial 1, 9–13, 25, 39, 51, 200, 227 cultural history 6
Church see Catholic Church culture 9, 34–5, 55–6, 92–3, 128, 130
Cicconetti, Felice 23 cypress trees 44, 90
cinerarium 142, 208
circular cemeteries 11, 58, 159 d’Alembert, Jean 30
classicism see neoclassicism d’Amato, Gabriele 126
Clementino, Concorso 22–4, 67, 156, 163 da Giussano, Alberto 125
Index 257
de Beauharnais, Eugène (Viceroy) 119 façade 22, 42, 87, 109, 122, 135, 142, 182;
de La Guêpière, Pierre-Louis-Philippe 156 Catalogue 214, 224–6
de’ Santi, Stanislao Grottanelli 51–3 Faenza 58
deathbed 68, 79 famedio 95, 120–6, 128, 220–1, 226
debates 96, 133, 141, 149, 178, 225 family 48, 52, 58, 67–8, 72, 75, 79–80, 129
Delafosse, Jean-Charles 21 fascism 126–8, 208
Desprez, Louis-Jean 24 fatherland: and architectural style 183–5;
Destra storica (party) 133 heroes of 112, 114, 117, 125–6; references
domestic interior 75 to 53–4, 56, 110, 119–20, 128–9
donors 63 federalism 171, 184
Doric order: Catalogue 209, 212–13, 222–3, Ferdinand IV (King of Naples) 15, 161
227, 230, 232; Parthenon 163, 203; Florence: capital city 180; Church of Santa
symbolism 117, 165, 172, 179–80, 193; Croce 115, 120; crematorium 135–6; San
use 19–20, 135–6, 141, 156 Miniato cemetery 39, 215; Stradone dei
dress see clothes, mourning Colli 91; Trespiano cemetery 50, 53
Durelli, Francesco 163, 176 fopponi see Milan
Forcellini, Annibale 231
early Christianity 12, 118, 131, 165, 210 Foscolo, Ugo 54–6, 110
earthquake 220 Foucault, Michel 80
eclecticism: Catalogue 211, 215, 221, 226, Francis III of Modena (Duke) 17, 19–20, 50,
228, 230; crematoria 137, 142; edicole 140
66; rise in popularity 151, 166–7, 169, Frederick I, Emperor 125
171, 173–4, 183 Freemasonry 19, 131–3, 141, 154
economics 51, 63, 130 freethinkers 132–3, 142, 204
edicola: Catalogue 208–12, 214, 216–9, French architecture: academies 23–4, 43, 58,
221–3, 225, 227, 229–30, 232; definition 181, 200; Egyptian models 153, 155–6,
61–2; history 66, 109, 170, 184 159
Edict of Saint-Cloud 10, 23, 35–7 French burial reforms 9, 21, 35–8, 57, 93
egalitarianism 13–14, 25, 57–8, 200–1; in French Enlightenment 7, 10, 12, 20, 22, 30
Modena 17–21, 222; in Naples 15–16; French occupation 11, 13, 32, 34, 119,
end of 36–7 153–4, 171; end 151; Milan 128; Rome
Egyptian architecture 140–1, 152–6, 159, 11–12, 15, 59, 105, 154, 160; Venice 21,
166, 170, 194, 229–31 54
eighteenth century: cemetery projects 19–21; French Revolution 20–1, 131
influence on nineteenth century 23–5, French urban planning 91
35–6, 43, 45, 49–54, 58, 67; patriotism friary 223
110; reforms 9–15; town planning 87 Fuga, Ferdinando 14–15, 224
elite: anticlericalism 42, 185; monuments 48, funeral: bourgeoisie 63, 86, 117, 130, 162;
51, 61; patriotism 87, 117, 122; resistance egalitarianism 14, 18, 35
to reform 13–14, 19–20; traditions 36,
38–9 Gabrielli, Giulio Cesare 44
Elysium (Elysian Fields) 43–4, 56 Gallarate: cemetery 182, 197, 216
engineers 67, 131, 136, 214 garden cemetery 9, 25, 43–6, 48–9, 93
England 43–4, 48, 51, 56, 58, 228 Garibaldi, Giuseppe 114–15, 117, 125, 127,
Enlightenment: burial reform 9–12, 25, 32, 133
35–6, 80, 119; egalitarianism 20, 22–3; Gasparini, Ercole 63, 90, 208
influence on cremation 131, 142; Italian Gasse, Stefano 223
character of 42; rejection of 51–3, 167 gateway 165, 223, 229
epidemic 52, 224 gender 18, 58
epitaph 36, 67–8, 79 Genoa: Catalogue 217–18, 223;
Etruscans 118 crematorium 141; landscaped extension
Europe: north–south divide 25–6 43, 47, 66; local styles 172, 184–5,
258 Index
186–91, 192–3; Pantheon 156, 162–3, in-migration see urbanisation
165; patriotism 115, 117, 120–1, 124; incineration see cremation
proposal for alternative 87; sculpture independence: achievement of 176–7; in the
70–1, 75–82; Staglieno cemetery 61, 63, Middle Ages 39; struggle for 35, 56, 86,
85, 109; town planning 87, 91 110–11, 119, 167, 170, 172–3; tradition
Germany 131, 149, 170 of 192, 204; wars of 104–5, 109, 115,
Ghisalba 161 117, 178–80
Giovio, Giovanni Battista 43, 51–2, 56–7 individual burial 36, 49, 57, 98, 112, 114,
God: references to 19, 67, 84, 128–9, 131, 177–8
161 individualism 36, 48–9, 112, 120, 174, 177,
Gorini, Paolo 131, 139–40 202–3
Gothic revival 77, 136, 169–72, 177, industrialisation 61, 80, 91, 106
179–83, 185, 205; Catalogue 220, 223, inequality 58, 80, 83, 175
226, 231 infection 10–11, 14, 20, 224
grave 23, 36, 54, 61, 130 intellectuals: and the Enlightenment 13, 20,
Greco-Roman classicism 156, 166, 173–5, 25; role 7, 10, 52–3, 131, 174, 176
178–81, 201, 232; see also neoclassicism Ionic order 219
Greek architecture: Catalogue 221, 231; Isnenghi, Mario 111
symbolism 117, 135, 140, 165, 172, 184, Italy: fragmentation 106; history 32–6;
193; north–south divide 3, 27–8
use 119, 156, 163
Gregory XVI (Pope) 12, 105 Jacobinism 32, 58, 153
Jansenism 10
Habermas, Jürgen 6, 104 Jappelli, Giuseppe 156, 159, 172
Habsburgs see Austrians Jews 129, 131
Halbwachs, Maurice 6, 83 Joseph II (Emperor) 20, 51, 53–4
Halicarnassus, mausoleum at 24, 140, 153 journals 84, 120, 132, 174
hero: commemoration 110–12, 115, 127–8,
204, 210; cremation 133; monuments 87; Keller, Alberto 131
pyramid 152; Risorgimento 118–19, 122, kinship 73, 118
125–6 Kulturenation (cultural nation) 86
heterotopia (Michel Foucault) 80 Kulturkampf (culture war) 128
hierarchy: divine 9, 19; familial 72; political
25, 34, 159; social 21, 38, 45, 58, 60, 63, Lambertenghi, Luigi 29, 52, 97
65–6; urban 80, 91 Laqueur, Thomas 6, 13
Hintermeyer, Pascal 57 Larghezza, Leonardo 223
historicism 34, 42, 87, 134, 136–7 Lazzarini, Giovanni 95, 195, 219
Holzner, Enrico 46, 181–2, 225 Lefebvre, Henri 6
hospital 11, 30, 58, 65, 119, 219 legislation: Austrian 159, 227; burial reform
hygiene 6, 10–11, 18, 36, 51–2, 57, 131–2 9–11, 14, 20–1, 35–7, 53–4, 93, 108;
united Italy 129–30, 141; Vatican 44
iconography see symbols Legnano, Battle of 125
idealism 19–20, 23, 53, 170–1, 205 liberalism 5, 35, 106, 108, 132–3, 142,
identity: local 108, 118; national 87, 105, 207
111, 117, 120, 122, 125, 128; social liberation 105, 172, 178, 192
67–8, 85, 142; stylistic 170, 176–7, 183, Liguria 165, 192
185, 192 Livorno: eighteenth-century cemetery 21;
Il Caffé (journal) 52–3 English cemetery 48; monumental
Il Crepuscolo (newspaper) 174, 176 cemetery 42, 115, 141, 162–3, 218
Il Giornale dell’Ingegnere, Architetto ed loculi: Catalogue 209–11, 213–15, 218–19,
Agronomo (journal) 174, 212, 213 221–2, 225, 227, 229; history 40; and the
immortality 22, 79, 117, 135, 152 middle classes 61, 65–6
Index 259
Lombardy: Austrian rule 10; burial reform Modena: Catalogue 222; eighteenth century
13, 20, 51, 53; patriotism 106, 125, 159, 10, 17–21, 36, 50; nineteenth century 42,
183–4, 192; sacri monti 40 107, 162
London: Brompton cemetery 96; Kensal monastery 36, 38–9, 214–15, 231
Green cemetery 26 monochromy 165
Loudon, John Claudius 44, 95 Montecchi, Mattia 112
Louisiana 31 Monteverde, Giulio 82, 155
Lucca: 20–1, 120, 130, 162, 219 monumental cemetery: definition 3; main
characteristics 37–43; uniqueness 2
Maciachini, Carlo 122–3, 134–7, 141, Morelli, Salvatore 132
177–8, 182, 221 morti (annual celebration of the dead)
Madonna, the 68, 129 see November, 1st
Maestri, Giuseppe 156, 179–80 mother 68, 74, 206
Malesci, Luigi 223 mourning 54, 56, 68, 72
Mameli, Goffredo 111–12, 127 multi-denominationalism 129, 161
Manzoni, Alessandro 125 municipal council: power 45, 107, 109, 122,
Marchesi, Enrico 210 151–2; role 129, 133, 141, 165, 175–6,
Maresca, Francesco 51, 223 180
martyrdom 110, 112, 114–15, 125–8 municipalismo 106
Matas, Niccolò 215 Murat, Joachim 161
Maulsby, Lucy M. 6 museums 85
mausolea 63, 66, 90, 156; Catalogue 210, myth 7, 25, 117, 170
223, 226, 229
Mazzini, Giuseppe 110, 117, 140, 165, Naples: Corso Maria Teresa 91; Church of
177 San Francesco da Paola 161; Cemetery of
McManners, John 6 the Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Graves
meaning (architectural) 66, 151 14–18, 21, 200, 224; edicole 61–62, 130;
medievalism 136, 167, 169–2, 176–7, landscaped extension 43–4, 46, 48, 202;
180–4, 192–3, 204; Catalogue 221, 223, Poggioreale cemetery 3, 36, 51, 108–9,
226 171–2, 223; unexecuted projects 81
memory of the dead 1, 111, 128, 144, Napoleon Bonaparte 21, 105, 119, 151,
204 153, 160, 231
memory studies 6 nation state: creation 5–6, 25, 35, 49, 86,
meritocracy 14, 53–4, 56, 201; and 105, 107–8; empowerment 111–12, 126,
academic architecture 21–4, 67, 120 129; fragmentation 184, 201, 203–4
Messina 3, 63, 108–9, 122–3, 168–9; national architecture 171, 183
Catalogue 220 national heroes 111–12, 115, 118–19, 126,
miasmas 11, 200 133; see also hero
microcosm 3 national history 122, 126
microhistory 6–7, 205, 207 national identity see identity
middle classes see bourgeoisie nationalism: influence on cemeteries 39, 42,
Milan: bourgeoisie 65, 67; Brera Academy 104, 106, 108, 110, 122; influence on
96, 156, 163, 173–7; Catalogue 221; style 151, 162, 167, 169, 177–8, 183;
crematorium 134–5, 137, 141; famedio relationship with religion 128; the
42, 120, 122, 123–4, 125–6; fopponi 20, Risorgimento 35, 86
36–7, 50–1, 54, 83; French occupation nationhood: ideals 85, 122, 127–8; and style
119, 128, 161; funeral 86; Monumentale 167, 183; visions 105–6, 110, 115
cemetery 46, 85; Musocco cemetery 83, necrogeography 58
100; Porta Comasina 54; regional capital necropolis (ancient) 118, 210
106–7; style 153, 155, 169, 178, 183, neo-baroque 176
192; urban planning 88, 91–2 neo-Cinquecento 185, 214
mnemonics 101 neo-Doric see Doric order
260 Index
neo-Egyptian see Egyptian architecture Parthenon 163, 209, 232
neo-Gothic see Gothic revival patria 85, 108, 110, 119, 128–9
neo-Greek see Greek architecture patriarchy 72
neo-Quattrocento 215 patriots 35, 111, 115, 125–6, 128, 174
neo-Renaissance 77, 169–73, 181, 208, Pavia: crematorium 141–3; famedio 126;
214–15, 229, 231–2; see also Renaissance medievalism 178–80, 182–3, 192;
neo-Romanesque see Romanesque monumental cemetery 63, 106–7, 109,
neoclassicism: abandonment 172–81, 184, 115, 226; proposal for garden cemetery
192–3; Catalogue 208–10, 212–13, 49
217–19, 222–4, 227, 230, 232; Pedrocchino see Padua: Pedrocchi café
Enlightenment 21–2, 25; French models personification 68, 124
43; funerary sculpture 68, 72; pantheon Perugia 106
119–20; persistence 135, 151–2, 155, Pestagalli, Giuseppe 88
165–7, 169, 171; plans 66, 91 Peter Leopold (Grand Duke) 20, 53
newspapers 10, 83–4, 174, 176, 180, 184 photography 75, 79, 86, 91
Noale, Antonio 225 piangente 68, 72–3
nobility see aristocracy Piattoli, Scipione 1, 14, 19, 28–30
non-Catholic areas in cemeteries 129–30, piazza 22, 86–7, 91, 120, 161
221 picturesque: Catalogue 217, 223, 228; in
non-Catholic cemeteries 44–5, 48, 130, 141, Europe 25–6; in France 49; in Italy 43,
152–3, 227–8 45–8, 58, 66, 91, 184; and neoclassicism
nostalgia 170, 184 167, 202
Nottolini, Lorenzo 219 Piedmont 40, 108, 162, 184, 192
November, 1st (celebration of the dead) 84, Pindemonte, Ippolito 55–6, 119
90 Pini, Gaetano 131, 137, 139–40
Pisa: Austrian legislation 20–1, 28–30, 36;
Oberty, Luigi 57 Campo Santo 24, 38–9, 42–3, 85;
octagonal forms 91, 135, 180, 182, 211, Cimitero Suburbano 227; crematorium
230–1 135–6, 141
Onesti, Luigi Braschi (Duke) 46 Pistocchi, Giuseppe 58, 98
opera 85–6, 91, 107 Pistoia 120
oppression 39, 108, 125, 154, 175, 177, 193 Pius IX (Pope) 105, 112, 114, 128, 130,
ossuary 127–8, 142, 208, 221 132, 165
plaques 85, 124–5, 140, 204
Padua: cremation 131; monumental poetry 53–6, 92, 110–11, 118–19, 205
cemetery 60, 104, 107, 109, 225; Poggi, Giuseppe 103
Pedrocchi Café 86, 172; Pietro Selvatico Politecnico (newspaper) 171
39, 46, 84; style 155–6, 159, 163, Polli, Giovanni 131
179–80, 181–4, 192 polychromy 165, 182, 215
paganism 44, 175 poor: mass graves 9–10, 15, 18, 20–1;
Palermo 109, 120 relegation 38, 45, 54, 59–61, 83
Palestrina, Temple of Fortuna 42 poorhouse 15, 224
Palladio, Andrea 163 portico 37, 67, 141, 156; Catalogue 214,
Palmerini, Felice 24 218–19, 221–3, 225–7, 230, 232;
pantheon (honourable burial place) 35, significance 50–1, 58–61, 105
118–20, 124, 126–8, 205; Catalogue portrait 72, 75
208–9, 212, 217–19, 222, 230, 232; Portugal 26
see also Rome: Pantheon Possagno 163–4, 232
papacy 35, 111, 114, 128 priest 12, 14, 29, 44
Parini, Giuseppe 54 professions 23–4, 61, 67–8, 80, 100, 124,
Paris, Père-Lachaise cemetery 25–7, 43, 46, 133; see also work
99, 107 propaganda 110–11, 127–8
Index 261
public sphere 104 non-Catholic cemetery: 44, 48, 153;
Pugin, A.W.N. 170 Ossario Garibaldino 127; Pigneto
Punic tombs 118, 210 Sacchetti cemetery 36, 59; Pincian hill
purismo 154 160; pyramid of Gaius Cestius 152–3;
putrefaction 11, 14, 200 Testaccio 44, 95, 130, 152, 228; Temple
pyramid 23–4, 44, 140–1, 152–6, 160, 163, of Vespasian 40; unexecuted proposal 81,
166; Catalogue 228 83
Rome, Pantheon: as honourable burial place
Quatremère de Quincy, Antoine- 118–19; as model 23, 40, 42–3, 51;
Chrysostome 15, 38, 154–5 funeral of Victor Emanuel II 117;
influence on neoclassicism 152, 156;
radicalism 128, 131–2, 137, 141 political significance 159–67, 162
Rapallo 146 Rome, Verano cemetery 12, 23, 39–41, 51,
Rastrelli, Modesto 52, 97 91, 105, 127, 129–30; atheism 130;
rationalism 11, 32, 167 Catalogue 223, 229; crematorium 140–1;
realism 68, 73–5, 77, 79–80, 86, 100, 201–2 local models 165, 171
reform 9–15, 21–2, 25, 44, 53, 63, 129 picturesque extension 43–4, 46–7, 91, 202;
Reformation (Catholic) 9, 12 enclosure 51; national heroes 111–15, 127
Reformation (Protestant) 1, 9–10 Rosini, Giovanni 94
reformers 14, 19–20, 44, 129 Rossi, Aldo 6, 83, 222
reformism 15, 19–20, 224 Rossini, Gioacchino 86, 102
Regensburg, Walhalla 119 Rovani, Giuseppe 38, 44, 48, 163
regionalism 110, 122, 136, 151, 203 Rubbiani, Alfonso 126
religion 104, 110, 117, 128–9, 132, 159–60, Ruskin, John 170
172
remembrance see commemoration sacralisation of politics 124
Renaissance 22, 39, 61, 118, 154, 165, sacri monti 40, 61
184–5, 192; see also neo-Renaissance sacrifice 56, 110, 112, 128
Republic of Genoa 165, 184–5 Saint-Cloud see Edict of Saint-Cloud
Republic of Lucca 20 salvation 9
republicanism 117, 128, 132, 165, 184, 192 Sanmicheli, Michele 165
Resasco, Giovanni Battista 7, 121, 156, 217 sarcophagi 38, 136, 140
Restoration: ideology 34–5; politics 32, 42, Sardinia 3, 109
141; style 151, 153, 161, 174, 184 satire 84, 176
Ricci, Amico 160 Savoy 35, 86, 108, 122, 162, 165, 184
Risorgimento: definition 1; history 32–4; scagliola 165
see also independence Scandinavia 170
rituals: cremation 134; funerals 13–14, 18, Schmidt, Friedrich von 176
35, 52–3, 63, 86; and memory 84, 111, Schumacher, Fritz 136, 150
122 scientific progress 28, 131–2, 142
rivalry 87, 106–9, 202 scientists 23, 131–2
Romanesque: Catalogue 210–11, 216, 221, Scotland 31
225–6; crematoria 135–6, 141–2; stylistic sculpture 68, 73–5, 77, 85, 93, 165, 201
debates 169–71, 176–7, 179–84, 192 secularisation 12, 35, 124, 128–9, 132, 200
romanticism: historicism 167, 170, 174; secularism 128, 141–2
influence on commemoration 52, 54, 56, Selva, Giannantonio 152–4, 163, 231
86, 93, 112; politics 34–5, 169–70 Selvatico, Pietro: the Campo Santo 39;
Rome: Academy of St Luke 22–4, 67, 156, medievalism 170–1, 179–81, 183, 193,
163; ancient Rome 161, 175; annexation 197, 199; Padua cemetery 46, 84, 101,
35, 111, 130, 132, 162, 180; Basilica of 144
San Lorenzo 40, 41, 165, 229; French sex 79
occupation 11–12, 15, 59, 105, 154, 160; Sicily 3, 122
262 Index
Sidoli, Alessandro 173–6, 198 Venturoli, Angelo 40, 208
Siena 135 Verdi, Giuseppe 86, 102, 117
Silva, Ercole (Count) 43, 51–2, 58 Vergani, Giovanni Battista 178
southern Italy 9, 106, 108–9, 122, 129–30, Verona: Catalogue 232; funerary sculpture
133, 142 72, 74; Ippolito Pindemente 55;
Spain 26 monumental cemetery 26–2, 42, 84, 107,
Stendhal, Henri 106 109, 120; neoclassicism 162–3, 165–6,
Stern, Raffaele 11, 85, 229 180; projects by Luigi Trezza 11, 58–60,
Stieber, Nancy 6 159; town planning 89–90
subjugation 124, 128, 174, 193, 203 Verri, Alessandro 20, 52–3, 56
suburbanisation 10–14, 18, 52, 83 Verri, Pietro 20, 53, 56
Sunday 83–4, 86 Versailles 21
symbols 63, 68, 75, 141, 201, 203 Vespignani, Virginio 114, 165, 229
symmetry 46, 58, 181, 214, 220 veterans 117, 210
Vicenza 105, 109
tableaux 74–5 Victor Emanuel II (King of Italy) 117, 162
taste 75, 169, 171, 177 Vienna 176
Tatti, Luigi 38, 43, 45, 85, 107, 212 Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène 170
temple-front 135, 153, 156, 160, 163, 167; Voghera, Luigi 107, 156, 213
Catalogue 212, 219 Voltaire 56
Tenca, Carlo 85, 102, 176 Vovelle, Michel 6, 12
Terror, Reign of 49, 155
theatre 74, 83, 181 wall-monuments 208–9, 212, 214, 216–19,
Tiburtini, Giuseppe 208 221–2, 225–7, 229–32
Tolstoy, Leo 19 war: First War of Independence 35, 104,
town planning see urban planning 125, 127, 179; First World War (Great
Tozzetti, Giovanni Targioni 39 War) 106, 126–7, 208; graves 114;
Trezza, Luigi 11, 58–60, 159 Second War of Independence 35, 104,
triennium see French occupation 109, 125, 127, 178–80; Second World
Turati, Filippo 132 War 128; Third War of Independence
Turin: Catalogue 230; exhibitions 87; 105, 125, 127, 180
monumental cemetery 109, 130, 135, 141, wealth 14, 52, 54, 57, 65, 73, 170
156, 157–8, 162 wealthy 13, 20, 38–9, 46, 61, 66, 72
Tuscany: burial reform 10, 13, 15, 20, 32, widow 68, 79
50, 53; style 171, 192 wife 74, 185
wills 39, 65, 129
urban boundaries 1, 9, 44, 87 woman 58, 68, 75, 115, 126
urban bourgeoisie 108–9 work 6, 24, 67–8, 80
urban planning 87, 91, 103 worship 35, 112, 136
urbanisation 87, 91, 102, 132 writers: commemoration 119, 125; opinions
utopia 22, 25, 201 20, 38, 44, 48, 54, 56, 85, 105–6, 163
Wurtchen, Battle of 154
Valadier, Giuseppe 11, 23, 160, 229
Valhalla (honourable burial place) 122 youth 58, 111
Vannucci, Atto 126, 146, 148
Vantini, Rodolfo 36, 40, 120, 163–4, 209 Zannini, Nicola 19
vegetation 11, 28, 43, 200 Zannoni, Antonio 118, 147
Venini, Giuseppe 137, 227 Zouave 115, 146