Newsletter of the Centro


New Series,  no. 9.  July-August 2005

edited by Dario Manfredi and Rossana Piccioli


News from Mulazzo


ª   Groppoli (Mulazzo). During the second phase of excavation recently conducted by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici in Tuscany, four bronze-age statue-stele have been discovered. Two female stele were intact, and the other two, one male and one female, were headless. Previously the same site had yielded three other stele, two of which were intact.

ª   Mulazzo. In the village the restoration of the so-called “Tower of Dante” and of its immediate surroundings has been completed. Unfortunately the criteria by which the restoration was conducted have not taken full account of the historical circumstances of the tower, which are certainly well-documented. The ancient Malaspina ruin is somewhat glamorized by its new and evocative illumination.

ª The Centro di Studi Malaspiniani has made contact with the publishing house Diabasis in Reggio Emilia ( During his visit to the Centro in the month of August, the possibility of future publishing collaborations was discussed with its Director, Alessandro Scansani.


News of the World

ª   Madrid.  On the 30th of last June, María Dolores Higueras left the Museo Naval in Madrid, of which she was Technical Director, for a well-deserved rest after a long and successful career. María Luisa Martín-Meras has been named to take her place. It will be difficult to imagine the Museo Naval without Lola and Lola without "her” museum, but we are certain that with María Luisa the collaboration which has borne so much fruit for Malaspina studies will continue. A a volume of essays will be published shortly in honour of Lola Higueras, and the Centro at Mulazzo will provide its own contribution with great enthusiasm. Best wishes to Lola and María Luisa.



Left: Dario Manfredi and Lola Higueras at the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, 2002 (Photo by M.C. Pucci Fiori)

Activities of the Centro di Studi Malaspina                                                                      

ª  The Centro has resumed its own publishing activity with the preparation of a new series of "Chapbooks," the first of which will be the one already announced, devoted to the ornithology of the Malaspina expedition, and edited by Rossana Piccioli and Roberto E. Rosi.

ª Dario Manfredi has been engaged by the Institute for the Italian Encyclopedia to compile the entry on Alessandro Malaspina for the Biographical Dictionary of Italians. The relevant volume should appear in the month of December 2005.

ª Ambassador Bernardino Osio, Secretary-General of the Latin Union in Paris, has expressed great interest in the project of a multimedia CD-rom devoted to the life and works of Alexandro Malaspina. Rossana Piccioli is currently compiling content for the disc, which, after its hoped-for distribution in all the Latin countries, could represent a valuable means for making the figure of the Navigator more well-known and famous.


Coming Events                                                                                            

ª  Cabra (Andalusia, Spain). Preparations are under way for celebrations marking the bicentennial of the death of Dionisio Alcalá Galiano, the officer who, after having participated in the Malaspina expedition, died heroically during the battle of Trafalgar. Study sessions and lectures are plannd for the occasion, and their texts will be published in a volume of proceedings. Our Centro will be present to delievr a lecture on the events in Spain as echoed in the correspondence of Alexandro Malaspina.

ª  Alicante (Spain). The University of Alicante is preparing a study day as part of the 2005 Cervantes celebrations. On this occasion an elegant volume containing a hitherto unpublished essay by Alexandro Malaspina will be presented: Carta crítica sobre el Quixote y la análisis que la Academia Española ha hecho preceder a sus últimas ediciones. The original manuscript, privately owned, is currently on display in the Archivio-Museo dei Malaspina in Mulazzo. 

ª  Mulazzo. The bicentenary of the birth of Giuseppe Mazzini will be marked by the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani with a bibliographical and documentary exhibition dedicated to Giuseppe Mazzini and other key figures in the campaign for national unity. The opening is planned for the beginning of December 2005.


Our Archives


Our gratitude to our friend Remo Lasagna di S. Benedetto Po, who has donated to the Centro a precious collection of unpublished documents related to Fabio Ala Ponzone, the Cremonese officer who participated in the Malaspina expedition.


Dante Research


Valentina Cammarata has graduated with flying colours through her thesis La storia della critica sull'VIII canto del Purgatorio, Università di Catania, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, corso di laurea in Lettere classiche, 2003-2004, supervisor Prof. Nicolò Mineo. Several publications in our Library proved useful in the completion of the thesis.


Publications received by the Library of the Centro


R.L. Stevenson, Nei Mari del Sud, Padua, Muzzio, 1994.

O. Raffo, Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina d’Este, Sovrana illuminata, donna triste, Lucca, Maria Pacini Fazi, 2003.

E. Vecchi, Alagia Fieschi Marchesa Malaspina, Lucca, Maria Pacini Fazi, 2003.

L.J. Bononi, Il tempo delle donne le donne del tempo, Lucca, Maria Pacini Fazi, 2003.

F. Bonatti (ed.), Vestigia Patrum, La Spezia, Carispe, 2000.

P. Donati, Pittura in provincia della Spezia, La Spezia, Carispe, 2002.

La città in divenire. Il territorio spezzino dal XIX secolo: immagini e carte, Firenze, Istituto Geografico Militare, 2005.

M. Quaini, La mongolfiera di Humboldt, Reggio Emilia, Diabasis, 2002.

J. Quinterno González, El arsenal de la Carraca (1717-1736), Madrid, Ministerio de Defensa, 2000.

R.C. de Marinis & G. Spadea, I Liguri. Un antico popolo europeo tra Alpi e Mediterraneo, Geneva-Milan, Skira, 2004.

AA.VV. Italia omnium terrarum alumna, Milan, Scheiwiller, 1988.

L. D’Arienzo, La presenza degli italiani in Portogallo al tempo di Colombo, Rome, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato.

          This fourteenth volume is the last one to be published in the series “New Columbus Collection.” The collection consists of 21 general volumes, plus an historical atlas and a volume on the iconography of Christopher Columbus. Thanks to the benevolence of our unforgettable friend Senator Paolo Emilio Taviani the Centro possesses the whole collection.                                                                     

C. M. Radulet,  Vasco da Gama. La prima circumnavigazione dell’Africa. 1497-1499, Reggio Emilia, Diabasis, 1994.

The author casts doubt on the traditional attribution of the journal of the voyage to Alvaro Velho and proposes instead Joao de Sa.

Andrew David, Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Carlos Novi, Glyndwr Williams (eds.) The Malaspina Expedition 1789-1794. The Journal of the Voyage by Alejandro Malaspina. Vol. III. Manila to Cádiz, London, The Hakluyt Society, 2004.

This third volume concludes the English edition of the Journal of Malaspina expedition. Its appendices include::

-                 the Journal written by Bustamante during the campaign to the Malvinas and in search of the Aurora Isles, edited by Andrew David (see the comment below on     the article in the magazine “Il Polo”);

-                 A digression by Carlos Novi on the causes which led Malaspina from the Court to La Coruña.

-                 Biographical profiles of members of the expedition, compiled  by José Ignacio González-Aller Hierro (the biography of Malaspina is almost perfect!);

-                 A note, also by José Ignacio González-Aller Hierro, on the two corvettes;

-             A description of the navigational instruments and books used durign the expedition, by Andrew David;

-                 An analytical summary of the major Malaspina archival collections, whether in Spain or in other countries, by Lola Higueras.





“IL POLO”, LIX (2004), n. 3.

In this issue we note the article by Francesco Lambendola, Il mistero delle Isole Auroras (pp. 25-39), in which for the first time the question of the islet described by José Bustamante is examined without “fear and trembling,” although with a limited bibliography and also a great deal which is debatable (the author has not read the report by Bustamante but only what Peter Kolosimo writes about it in the volume Non è terrestre, whose errors he also repeats). Discussing the voyage undertaken by the corvette Atrevida in the final days of 1794, Bustamant claims to have located the islands seen some decades earleir by the ship Aurora. Placing faith in the reliability of Malaspina's imprimatur, various authors, including Julio Guillen y Tato, Lola Higueras and Dario Manfredi, have written about this “rediscovery.” However, the islands simply do not exist. A few months after the release of this issue of “Il Polo” there appeared, in the third volume of the English edition of the journal of the Malaspina expedition, an exhaustive note by Andrew David, which, on the basis of much more solid critical apparatus, confirmed the nonexistence of the archipelago and proposed the possible explanation that Bustamante might have been seeing icebergs.



We would like to mention two articles : D. Manfredi, Noticias sobre la primiera navegación del Caballero de Malta Alejandro Malaspina, pp. 85-86.

R. Piccioli, La cuarta campaña oceánica de la corbeta Vettor Pisani, pp. 107-114.


        Pedant's Corner



The Panizzi Library in Reggio Emilia has placed its archival collections, including the Giambattista Venturi Collection, on the Internet. Among the papers appear a letter from Alexandro Malaspina to Gherardo Rangoni and one to the same Venturi. The text of the first was already known, though the location of the original document was not, while the second was absolutely unknown. Checking the archive, however, has revealed that the two letters are not original but nineteenth-century copies; that the one purportedly written to Venturi contained no address to the recipient (it has been added arbitrarily in pencil by an archivist); and that the French text is identical to that of the letters, already published, sent by Malaspina to Lalande and Banks.


Centro di Studi Malaspiniani “Alessandro Malaspina” – Mulazzo (MS)

Mulazzo. Piazza Malaspina 2  – tel. +39.0187.439712