Showing posts with label University of Milan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label University of Milan. Show all posts

13 February 2023

Antonia Pozzi - poet

Tragic writer whose work was published only after her death

Antonia Pozzi wrote more than 300 poems in her short life
Antonia Pozzi wrote more than
300 poems in her short life
The poet Antonia Pozzi, who came to be regarded as one of the greatest Italian poets of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1912 in Milan.

Born into a wealthy family, she enjoyed a privileged lifestyle but seemingly a difficult relationship with her parents. She kept diaries and began to write poems as a teenager, although none came to light until she died in tragic circumstances at the age of just 26.

Afterwards, her notebooks were found to contain more than 300 poems, which revealed her to be one of the most original voices in 20th century Italian literature.  Most have subsequently been published, to great critical acclaim.

The daughter of Roberto Pozzi, a prominent Milan lawyer, and his aristocratic wife, Countess Lina Cavagna Sangiuliani, Antonia’s literary talent may have been inherited from her great-grandfather on her mother’s side, the 19th century poet and writer, Tommaso Grossi.

As a teenager, she had multiple interests, studying German, English and French and travelling both within Italy and further afield, to France, Austria, Germany, England, Greece and North Africa, always indulging her love of photography.

Friends said that she was never happier, though, than when she was at the family’s 18th century villa at Pasturo, a village that nestles at the foot of the Orobic Alps near Lecco, some 70km (43 miles) north of Milan. She would spend many hours cycling around local paths and her writing often made reference to the stark but beautiful mountain environment.

Pozzi pictured on the terrace of the family villa at Pasturo
Pozzi pictured on the terrace of
the family villa at Pasturo
She attended the Alessandro Manzoni High School in Milan. As a senior student there, she became romantically involved with her Latin and Greek professor, Antonio Maria Cervi. The relationship ended in 1933, apparently after her parents intervened. 

From high school, she enrolled at the University of Milan, studying modern philology. Her circle of friends there included the future poet Vittorio Sereni and the philosophers Enzo Paci and Luciano Anceschi. Her professors included Antonio Banfi, regarded as the most open and modern Italian university professor of the time, who would later become a Communist member of the Italian Senate.

Pozzi graduated in 1935, her degree awarded on the basis of her thesis on Gustave Flaubert, the French novelist.

Banfi had been a signatory to the Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals and Pozzi herself became increasingly concerned about the political climate in Italy in the 1930s. Her father was a member of the Fascist Party, who made him mayor of a Lombardy village.

After graduating, she wrote for a magazine, Corrente, and took up a teaching position at a Milanese technical institute in 1937. She did social work as a volunteer, often assisting defendants in juvenile courts.

Sadly, the following year, her health began to decline. She had to undergo an operation to remove her appendix and her recovery was poor, causing her to develop repeated bouts of pneumonia. 

It was on December 12 that year that she was found unconscious in a ditch in the grounds of the Abbey of Chiaravalle, in a southern suburb of Milan, in freezing, snowy conditions. She was taken to hospital but died the following day.

Antonia Pozzi's writing room at the Casa Pozzi has been kept as it was in her lifetime
Antonia Pozzi's writing room at the Casa Pozzi
has been kept as it was in her lifetime
A post-mortem found that she had ingested barbiturates, which pointed towards suicide. She was said to have written a farewell note, describing how her health had left her mentally unbalanced. Nonetheless, her parents refused to accept that she had taken her own life and the official record was that she had died from pneumonia. 

The first volume of Pozzi’s poetry was published in 1939 in a private edition, selected by her father, who altered or excluded anything he deemed to be inappropriate or that reflected badly on the family, although protecting his daughter’s reputation was also a likely motivation. 

Expanded editions followed in the 1940s and again in the 1960s.  Through diligent research, some of her admirers in the literary world would later track down copies of the poems Pozzi’s father changed so that the originals could be published as they were written.

Pozzi’s poetry sought, in her own words, ‘to reduce the weight of words to the minimum’ and had a deceptive simplicity.  It perhaps reflected a mood among Italian artists, writers and even architects of her age to reject the grandiose in favour of minimalism.

One critic wrote of her work that ‘her Modernist verse is lyrical and experimental, pastoral and erotic, powerfully evoking the northern Italian landscape and her personal tragedies amid the repressive climate of Fascism’.  She is today seen as one of the most important voices in Italian poetry in the 20th century.

The village of Pasturo can be found amid the beautiful scenery of Valsassina, north of Lecco
The village of Pasturo can be found amid the
beautiful scenery of Valsassina, north of Lecco
Travel tip:

In Pasturo, a village which sits in the Valsassina basin on the eastern slopes of the Grigna massif in the province of Lecco, the memory of Antonia Pozzi is preserved in a series of 22 wall panels mounted around the streets of the village centre, each bearing verses from her poetry or photographs she took of the village and the surrounding area. The family villa, in Via Alessandro Manzoni, is kept as a museum, which can be visited by groups of 10 by arrangement. The village, which has a population of just short of 2,000, is a starting point for many walking and climbing itineraries.  The village is mentioned in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) as a place to which one of the story’s central characters flees to escape the plague.

Find places to stay in Pasturo with Booking.com

The Chiostro della Ghiacciaia, which is part of the university's Ca' Granda complex
The Chiostro della Ghiacciaia, which is part
of the university's Ca' Granda complex
Travel tip:

The University of Milan, founded in 1924 with the merger of two older educational establishments, is one of the largest in Europe, with about 60,000 students and 2,000 permanent staff. Many of the university’s departments are housed in important historic buildings in the centre of Milan, including the Ca’ Granda, a monumental complex from the 15th century in Via Festa del Perdono at the heart of the historical city centre, the 18th-century Palazzo Greppi in Via Sant’Antonio, designed by the architect of Teatro alla Scala, Giuseppe Piermarini, and the 17th-century Collegio di Sant'Alessandro, commissioned by the Arcimboldi family. Ca' Granda was originally commissioned by Francesco I Sforza, the 15th century Duke of Milan, and his wife, Bianca Maria Visconti, who wanted to create a hospital for the poor.

Milan hotels by Booking.com

More reading:

How Andrea Zanzotto drew inspiration from Veneto landscapes

The civil engineer who became a Nobel Prize-winning poet

Dario Fo - the outspoken genius whose work put spotlight on corruption

Also on this day:

1539: The death of influential marchioness Isabella d’Este

1571: The death of Renaissance sculptor Benvenuto Cellini

1816: Fire damages Teatro di San Carlo

1960: The birth of football referee Pierluigi Collina

(Picture credit: Antonia Pozzi's writing room by Xavier Caré; Pasturo landcape by Ago76; Chiostro della Ghiacciaia by Giovanni Dall'Orto; all via Wikimedia Commons)



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26 November 2018

Enrico Bombieri – Mathematician

Brilliant professor who won top award in his field at just 34



Enrico Bombieri is one of the world's leading mathematicians
Enrico Bombieri is one of the
world's leading mathematicians
The mathematician Enrico Bombieri, one of the world’s leading authorities on number theory and analysis, which has practical application in the world of encryption and data transmission, was born on this day in 1940 in Milan.

Bombieri, who is also an accomplished painter, won the Fields Medal, an international award for outstanding discoveries in mathematics regarded in the field of mathematical sciences as equivalent to a Nobel Prize, when he was a 34-year-old professor at the University of Pisa in 1974.

As well as analytic number theory, he has become renowned for his expertise in other areas of highly advanced mathematics including algebraic geometry, univalent functions, theory of several complex variables, partial differential equations of minimal surfaces, and the theory of finite groups.

Mathematics textbooks now refer to several discoveries named after him in his own right or with fellow researchers, including the Bombieri-Lang conjecture, the Bombieri norm and the Bombieri–Vinogradov theorem.

Enrico Bombieri read his first book of algebra when he was eight and wrote his first scholarly article when he was 17
Enrico Bombieri read his first book of algebra when he was
eight and wrote his first scholarly article when he was 17
He has been described as a "problem-oriented" scholar - one who tries to solve deep problems rather than to build theories.

According to colleagues, his analytical ability, combined with great powers of innovation, enable him to recognize elements of a solution that may already be present and to apply techniques and results from other fields to reach a final conclusion.

The fourth child and only son of a banker in Milan, Bombieri is said to have read his first algebra book at the age of eight.

He became more seriously interested in maths began at high school when, as a 15-year-old student, he picked up a book on number theory that introduced him to the great 19th century German mathematician Bernhard Riemann. He developed a fascination with numbers that never left him.

He published his first scholarly article in 1957, while still only 16 years old. In 1963, aged 22, he graduated in mathematics at the University of Milan and then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Enrico Bombieri emigrated to the United States in 1977
Enrico Bombieri emigrated to the
United States in 1977
Between 1963 and 1966, Bombieri was an assistant professor and then a full professor at the University of Cagliari, holding the same position at the University of Pisa until 1974 and then at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa from 1974 to 1977.

From Pisa he emigrated in 1977 to the United States, where he became a professor at the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2011 he became professor emeritus.

Bombieri has always been keen to disprove the notion that mathematicians are by nature single-focused nerds with no interests beyond their own field.

As a young man, he was a student of Alpine botany, in particular wild orchids, and has become an accomplished painter.

He experimented with pencil drawings and water colours at a young age and throughout his academic life has always carried paints and brushes with him on his travels.

He began to take his art more seriously after moving to the United States, enrolling to study study painting and printmaking at Mercer County Community College at West Windsor, New Jersey.

Bombieri paints people, animals and landscapes. His paintings are described as often surreal or intentionally ambiguous, although he also accepts commissions for portraits.

One work he is said to have been particularly proud of depicts a giant chessboard by a lake, with pieces placed to represent a critical point in the historic match between world champion Garry Kasparov and the chess-playing computer, Deep Blue.

Bombieri himself was a member of the Cambridge University chess team during his time at Trinity College.

The cloister at the main building of the University of Milan, founded in 1924 after the merger of other institutions
The cloister at the main building of the University of Milan,
founded in 1924 after the merger of other institutions 
Travel tip:

The University of Milan was founded in 1924 from the merger of the Accademia Scientifico-Letteraria (Scientific-Literary Academy)and the Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento (Clinical Specialisation Institutes), established in 1906. By 1928, the University already had the fourth-highest number of enrolled students in Italy, after Naples, Rome and Padua. Its premises are located primarily in Città Studi, the university district which was developed from 1915 onwards to the northeast of the city centre, although there are other buildings around the city that are now part of the University.  The streets of the Città Studi area are notable for bars, pizza restaurants and ice cream shops.



There is much more to historic Pisa than the Campo dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower
There is much more to historic Pisa than the
Campo dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower
Travel tip:

Many visitors to Pisa confine themselves to the Campo dei Miracoli, where the attractions are the famous Leaning Tower, the handsome Romanesque cathedral and its impressive baptistry. But there is much more to Pisa. The University of Pisa, founded in 1343, now has elite status, rivalling Rome’s Sapienza University as the best in Italy, and a student population of around 50,000 makes for a vibrant cafe and bar scene. There is also much to see in the way of Romanesque buildings, Gothic churches and Renaissance piazzas.


More reading:

Einstein's favourite mathematician

Salvador Luria - Nobel Prize-winning microbiologist

Grazia Deledda - the first Italian woman to win a Nobel Prize

Also on this day:

1908: The birth of businessman and hotelier Charles Forte

1949: The birth of politician and businesswoman Letizia Moratti

1963: The death of opera singer Amelita Galli-Curci


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