Newsletter of the centro



New Serien. 1 – February 12, 2003


Edited by Dario Manfredi and Rossana Piccioli                  Translated by John Black


Dear Readers,


The management of the Centro could easily repeat what Alexandro Malaspina wrote once to his friend Paolo Greppi: "We have emerged from a cave"!
We have struggled through hard and unpleasant times indeed; a lack of means led to discouragement and this, more than that, dissipated any desire to continue with the difficult job of maintaining our connections with friends in every part of the world, and of planning new initiatives.
But all of this is now overcome: we are on the verge of recovering our strength, and this first newsletter is the proof that we have already returned to work.



Notizie da Mulazzo


The new Administration of the Comune


In 2002 there were local elections in Mulazzo. We now have a new Mayor and a new council. The mayor is Sandro Donati; the deputy mayor is Claudio Novoa. The political will to relaunch our Centro and its cultural activity exists, and was repeatedly expressed during the electoral campaign.

To Prof. Roberto Malaspina, the outgoing Mayor, we extend our humble regards, thanking him for all that he has done. Without irony.



New posters with tourist information


The Centro, at the request of the Comune administration, has developed the texts of over twenty tourist posters, written in five languages, that illustrate the monuments and antiquities of Mulazzo. Almost all of them deal with the lives and influence of the Malaspina marquises. Twenty more posters will be installed, as soon as possible, in various sectors of the Comune.


World News 

Cultural twinning of Bosa (Sardinia) with Lunigiana, in the name of the Malaspinas.

Last September the Centro collaborated with the municipal administration of Bosa (NU) in organizing a Study Day on the historical relationships between Lunigiana and Sardinia, in which Lunigianese students and teachers from the University of Sassari participated. For this occasion a small archival exhibition was also prepared on the Malaspina Expedition. The Comune of Bosa has announced the intention of founding a local Centre for Malaspina Studies, with whose activity the Centro at Mulazzo has already promised full collaboration. 

From Bari, a CD Rom on the navigator Alexandro Malaspina


Professors Raffaele Giura Longo and Franco Porsia, of the University of Bari, have completed a CD Rom on Alexandro Malaspina; the Centro also collaborated in this important initiative, which will be available to the public next spring.


Alexandro Malaspina gaining attention in Chile


Dr. Rafael Sagredo Baeza, director of the “Diego Barros Arana” Research Centre in Santiago de Chile, visited the Centro and laid out the general plan for a cultural collaboration in consideration of the historical importance that the work of Alexandro Malaspina has in Chile. The details of this collaboration will be defined in the coming months.

In Canada, a biography of Alexandro Malaspina is being published online (in English).


The website of the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre (please note the new address)

is in the process of publishing (on-line, one chapter every two weeks) the revised biography of Alexandro Malaspina. Dario Manfredi is the author of this text, Don S. Kirschner and Teresa J. Kirschner have translated it into English, and Russell McNeil and John Black are the editors.


Activities of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani


The Centro has organized a series of meetings, continuing into 2003, with the title, “Among Meridians & Parallels. Voyages, Distant Lands, Diverse Cultures”. The meetings that took place in 2002 were the followings:

September 8:    Presentation of the graduate thesis by Evelina Bellotti:

                        The Letters of Malaspina during the Voyage on the Astrea (1786-1788)

                        with the participaiton of María Dolores Higueras Rodríguez,
                        Technical Director of the Museo Naval in Madrid


October 12:      Lecture by Anna N. Rozzi Mazza, Superintendant of the Museo del

                             Sigillo – La Spezia:

                             "Shamanic Vessels: South-American Ceramics of the Pre-Columbian Era"


December 1  Lecture by Rossana Piccioli, Curator  of the Ethnological and

                             Anthropological Collections of the Museo Etnografico - La Spezia:

                             "Foreigners in our midst: American plants, medicines, poisons in Europe"


In addition, there was a presentation of Fabio Baroni's book La luna è sul castello a Montechiaro [The Moon is on the Castle at Montechiaro], (Conti Ed.), an historical novel inspired by the slaughter of the Malaspinas of the Verrucola.
In the Auditorum of the Centro there also took place an important forum, organized by the Comunità Montana, on the theme “Tourism in Lunigiana.”


Publications Received


Among the hundred books and articles received, we make special mention of:


David, Andrew; Fernández-Armesto, Felipe; Novi, Carlos; Williams, Glyndwr, eds., The Malaspina Expedition 1789-1794. Journal of the Voyage by Alejandro Malaspina. Vol. I Cadiz to Panama. Introduction by Donald C. Cutter. London - Madrid, The Hakluyt Society, Museo Naval, 2001, 338 pp.

            This is a really important work and one produced with the greatest attention to detail. We congratulate those responsible. We point out a small mistake on p. xcv: the Jesuit Ximénez who collaborated with Malaspina in the preparation of the expedition was not Leonardo (who died in 1786–as one can also read in the same note), but rather Ramón, the preceptor of Fabio Ala Ponzone. If this is the only fault to be found in the book, that means it is really a well-produced work!   


La GRAN Expedición Española de Alejandro Malaspina a América (1789-1794). Vol. I -

México, Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, 248 pp.  With contributions from:

Dario Manfredi, Dolores Higueras, Laurio H. Destéfani, Héctor J. Tanzi, Alessandro

Monteverde Sánchez, Jorge Ortiz Sotelo, Eduardo Estrella, Virginia González

Claveran, Donald C. Cutter.


Gallo, Nicola, Guida storico-architettonica dei castelli della Lunigiana toscana, Massa, Istituto Valorizzazione Castelli, 2002 480 pp.

This volume includes over two hundred plans of castles, fortifications and other military building-works, of which either ruins or topographical records exist. There are twelve plans relating to the Comune of Mulazzo. In a future number we will make some comments on it.


Absent Friends


We should like to remember here the following friends, who in their various ways will always be a part of our Centro.


Prof. José Alcina Franch


Anthropologist and Malaspinista “from the beginning of time,” he participated in various international conferences (Mulazzo 1984, Madrid 1989, Madrid-Cádiz-La Coruña 1993), always making original and greatly appreciated contributions. Among his writings we take particular note of:

1988    “La antropología americanista a la luz de la expedición Malaspina”. El descubrimiento científico de América, Barcelona, Editorial Anthropos, pp. 183-200.

1988 “Alejandro Malaspina”. El descubrimiento científico de América,   Barcelona, Editorial Anthropos,  pp. 201-204.

1988   “Alejandro Malaspina y el desarrollo de la etnología en el siglo XVIII”. El descubrimiento científico de América, Barcelona, Editorial Anthropos, pp. 205-220.

1989  El problema de las «jefaturas» de la Costa Noroeste a la luz de los primeros informes españoles del siglo XVIII”José Luis Peset, ed., Culturas de la costa noroeste de América, Madrid, Turner, QuintoCentenario, pp. 33-50.


Don Igino Spagnoli


He was parish priest of Mulazzo and therefore custodian of the ancient parish books in which the baptisms, marriages and deaths of the Malaspinas of Mulazzo were recorded.
He was always sensitive to the needs of the researchers who had to consult those documents.
He was the first to visit the Centro and the first to understand its needs.


Prof. Sen. Paolo Emilio Taviani


Senator-for-life Taviani was also a great student of Christopher Columbus and his passion for exploration led him, years ago, to the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, of which he always remained a friend and supporter. In 1993 he presided over the Honorary Committee under whose auspices the International Congress at Mulazzo was organized.
In 2000, in Rome, he was happy to present, to the Istituto Italo-Latinoamericano, the volume in which are collected the letters of Alexandro Malaspina and Fabio Ala Ponzone. He was also academic correspondent of the Real Academia Hispano-Americana. But here we want also to remember his political and civil engagement: as the partisan “Pittaluga,” he participated in the liberation of Genoa in 1945; he was then elected to the Constituent Assembly and is justly considered today one of the “Fathers of the Republic.”


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