RubricheWord on the street

Luigi Castiglioni – from plants to fine arts

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di Barbara Balcon

The recently built Castiglioni Residence Hall is named after the street where it is located, Via Luigi Castiglioni.

Luigi Castiglioni was born in Milan, on October 3, 1757, and his mother was Teresa Verri, sister of Pietro and Alessandro. The two brothers founded the famous magazine Il caffè and the Accademia dei Pugni (literally translated as Punch Academia), a cultural institution. It has such a bizarre name because many discussions actually ended with a fight.

He went on a very long tour of France, England, Canada, United States, Portugal and Spain (1784-87) in order to deepen his botanical studies. However, he was curious about the political aspects of the recent American Revolution and included some of these impressions in Viaggio negli Stati Uniti dell’America settentrionale fatto negli anni 1785, 1786 e 1787 (Trip to the United States of America in 1785, 1786 and 1787).

His role in the 1796-99 period is ambiguous; he was arrested and deported to Nice, but he was later invited to take part in the Council of the Juniors of the Cisalpine Republic. He did not accept the offer, probably due to his moderate ideology.

Later, he gained a respected position in public life: he was one of the members of a commission in charge of an educational reform, director of the Royal Printing House, member of the Lombard Institute of Science and Literature and also president of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera.

He was appointed senator in 1809 and he was conferred the title of Count by Napoleon.

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He died in Milan – bequeathing his enormous numismatic collection to the city – on April 22, 1832, and he was buried in the Monumental Cemetery.

Barbara Balcon

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