7 Other Papers: Translation

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Luzzini, Francesco (2018). Other Papers: Translation. In: Theory, Practice, and Nature In-between: Antonio Vallisneri’s Primi Itineris Specimen. Berlin: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften.

7.1 Paper 1

Reasoning about the many consular names assigned to the villages and towns of Garfagnana.

Don’t be surprised, reader, if the towns of Garfagnana are listed with so many consular names; in fact, in Sulla, Plutarch1 (along with Appian, in [Historia Romana], Book 1,2 and Lucius Florus, in [Epitome Rerum Romanorum], Book 3, Chapter 233) writes that the dictator Sulla, having been challenged by Marius and his supporters, decided to take vengeance on his enemies; on which account, in order to erase them all from the book of life, he compiled a book of death, in which at first he noted the names of 40 senators, then proscribed 1,600 equites, and, finally, wanted 2,000 nobles dead; and, so as to let the deadly ostracism be carried out more quickly by his nefarious followers, he established a reward of two talents to anyone who would murder the proscribed, or would denounce them.4 And since many frightened Roman citizens had taken refuge among the Etruscan friends of the Marians, the dictator sent his general Lucretius Ofella5 there to devastate the Etruscan coasts, and to chase the fugitives everywhere; whereas they abandoned the lowlands, and moved hastily to higher places, where some hid in caves and caverns, and others protected [their] diminished belongings and shaken families by building strongholds on steep crags. Prosper Fesulanus affirms the same in Book 4 of Ethruscarum Antiquitatum Fragmenta.6 XXIV.r]

From the Florentine Girolamo Bocchi, Monopanthon Harmonicum, et Chronologicum, Book 2, Part 1, Centuria 40.7 The same [is affirmed] by Florus, Appian, and Sallust, in De Catilinae Coniuratione.8

In addition to the castles erected on the summits of the mountains by the sons and grandsons of the Roman equites, or even by the same citizens who were exiled at the time of Marius and Sulla, many others can be found which were built after the defeat inflicted by the Romans on Catiline in the territory of Pistoia,9 [at the hands of] legates Caius Antonius10 and Marcus Petreius,11 being Iunius Silanus12 and Lucius Murena13 consuls; from which [facts], the survivors among both the Roman and the Etruscan supporters of Lucius Sergius Catiline fled into the nearby mountains, where the Province of Garfagnana lies; once there, they protected themselves with fortified towns, giving them names according to the will of the builders, or in memory of their parents, or, finally, after those who paid for their construction.

See [also] Orsucci,14 Simone Morganti,15 Franchini,16 and Lazzaro Tramonti,17 who investigate more extensively the origin of these places. Etc. XXIV.v]

7.2 Paper 2

Old and new names noted in the Province of Garfagnana.

1Montes Tegulii—Tea.

2Montes Attilii Reguli—Tiglio.

3Montes Sp. Duilii et Antonii—Dalli, e…


5Livius Salinator—Sala.

6Orius Resiliensis—Roggi.

7Montes Violati—Pania Forata.

8C.us Geganius—Gragnano.

9Veientes Superiores—Vaii di Sopra.



12Montes Sagatenia—Pania di Corfigliano.


14Vallis Occo—Vallico.

15L. Metranius—Motroni.

16Panias Mons—Pania.

17L. Piso Caesonianus—Ceserana.

18C.P. Lib. Visolinus—Vitiana: presso Coreglia. Etc.

19Faide Montes—Taiole.

20Vicaria Borgae—Vicaria di Barga.

21Mons Fegatensis—Fegatese.

22Serulium Flumen—Soraggio o Seraglione.

23Coiza Flumen—Coeza.

24Penninus Flumen—Penninus. Pennino.

25Pallenus Flumen—Pollone.

26Aesarulum Flumen—Esarulo.

27Siliceus Flumen—Siliceo.

28Cesarion Flumen—Cesarione.

29Corsona Flumen—Corsona.

30Opiter Flumen—Oppio.

31Lanies Flumen—Lanio.

32Fegana Flumen—Fegana.

33Ledron Flumen—Ledrone.

34Turrita Flumen—Torrita.

35Brolium Flumen—Broglio.

36Terrida Flumen—Torrita.

37Turita Cava Flumen—Tortecava.

38Sarita Flumen—Sarrida. XXV.r] XXV.v]

7.3 Paper 3

Strange fountain.

At the foot of the Panie [Mountains] is a spring which flows only when the wind is about to blow, and while [it blows], and until 3 days after [it has stopped], and which then ceases; hence, the peasants can always predict the wind. They believe that it comes from the sea, but this is false. I think it originates from a subterranean fermentation, etc.18

Little soil in plants. Observation.

Something like the outline of a tree, with trunk, branches and twigs, and made of scarce, thin, dark dirt, can be seen on the ground in the beech forests; and I could not understand what it was. Having consulted the shepherds, they said that these were [the remains of] beech trees that had fallen and rotted, leaving that scarce, dark soil. I then verified this by seeing some half–rotten trees, and others that were about to [decay]. From this I infer how scarce the earth is in the plants.

In the countryside, I found a tomb with just the outline of a man lying on the ground, made of a very thin ash.

Salts in plants.

They are all volatile, and the alkaline [salts] of the ashes are melted by fire, and then gathered. Etc.19 XXVI.r] XXVI.v]

7.4 Paper 4

Claudian, in Panegyricus de Consulatu Manlii, De Monte Olimpo:

He rises above the rains, hears the rushing
clouds beneath his feet, and treads upon the roaring thunders.20

So was I when I was in the mountains, etc. XXVII.r] XXVII.v]

7.5 Paper 5

Apennine. The said Alp of Saint Peregrine lies between the Provinces of Modena and Lucca, and that place is steep, and quite inaccessible.

Virgil, Book 12 of the Aeneid: “Sovereign Apennine, that lifts in air his forehead.”21 And in Book 11: “The warrior son of Aunus, haunter of the Apennine.”22 XXVIII.r] XXVIII.v]

7.6 Paper 6

Description of the Lake of Ventasso23 in the territory of Nigone,24 made by Fulvio Azzari in the first Book of his Istoria di Reggio, where he addresses the situation of the said city, p. 21.25

It faces the peaks of the [Apuan] Alps to the south; the Po, king of Italian rivers, no further than 18 miles to the north; and it is almost equally distant from both the Secchia River, 8 miles to the east, and the Enza,26 to the west, called … by Pliny. One [of these two last streams], as I already mentioned, originates from Pra’ di Reno;27 the other from the Lake of Ventasso,28 thus called from the mountain on which it lies, that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Counts Vallisneri:29 [this] mountain is indeed very remarkable, being everywhere surrounded by the most various medicinal plants that can be found in Italy. The said lake is almost equal in length and width, all its four sides being 200 fathoms long; and, in the good season, it is full of precious fish and finest shrimp. Some claim it is very deep, and others believe that it is 25 fathoms [in depth]: the uncertainty is due to [the fact] that it is not possible to swim in it, given that all those who enter are somehow sucked in by an abyss, and dragged to the bottom. The reason is attributed to the great, excessive coldness of its waters, because of which those men who are seized by cramps can’t swim anymore, and sink; hence this [lake], together with its outflowing stream (that flows precipitously down and cuts through Lombardy),30 makes the said River Enza wild, and often [causes it to] rise; and its waters etc. XXIX.r]

Proposal made to the Council of Reggio to send Master Carlo da Maleone, engineer,31 to the Lake of Ventasso in order to try to conduct the water of that same lake to Reggio; August 4 of the year 1453.

Thus, the above mentioned Sir Massaro32 said to those who were present: “As you know, O Elders, since a long time it has been agreed to collect the water from the Lake of Ventasso; as long as Master Carlo is here, he shall climb up to the said lake, and there he shall consider if it is possible to draw the waters from the said lake through a channel (since it had already been declared that he was supposed to know this from experience; and that, if he did not refuse any part of the task, therefore it would have been useful to see, and to understand).”

The Elders strongly agreed, and, having consulted with the above mentioned Massaro, they resolved that he would let Master Carlo see if it was possible—as previously said—to draw and conduct the waters through a channel, and [ordered] him to move with the above mentioned engineer to the said lake.

Also, they chose Simone Calcagni33 and Filippo Rodelia34 to go with Master Carlo, so that they would report to the Elders when divers were needed.

In addition, both of them were also ordered to go at once to the Lake of Ventasso, and anywhere else it was needed.

From the Book of Provisions for the years 1452 to 1454, p. 111, in the Archive of the Most Illustrious Community of Reggio.35 XXIX.v]

7.7 Paper 7

Petition from the Community of Busana36 to Borso, Duke of Ferrara,37 for an exemption from taxes, where the under mentioned reason is advanced, that is:

Given the ruin that has come from Mount Ventasso, and which flows all the way down into the Secchia River,38 threatening and destroying chestnut woods, fields, meadows, houses, and crops, along with the church of the said land.

Recorded in the Register of Letters of the Records Office of the Community of Reggio for the year 1453, p. 122. XXXI.r]

7.8 Paper 8

Provided by the Reverend Vallisneri.39

Memorandum for the natural history.

A proposal made to the Council of Reggio, in the manuscript book of the Reverend Vallisneri, [asks] to send an engineer to inspect the said Lake of Ventasso, located in the territory of Nigone, so as to try to conduct that water to Reggio, on August 4 of the year 1453.40

Description of the above mentioned place, and of its situation. Therein, copy from the Reverend Vallisneri.

Consider and copy everything.

Report of a great salatta, or lavina, or ammotamento, or landslide occurred there in the year 1453. Therein.


Bring home the book of chronicles of the Vallisneri family, and go to Nigone, Ventasso, etc., and describe those places. XXX.r] XXX.v]


In the aftermath of the civil war which opposed the Optimates (led by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, 138–78 BC) and the Populares (whose main leaders were Gaius Marius, 157–86 BC, and his son Gaius Marius Minor, 110–82 BC), and was won by Sulla in 82 BC, thousands of Roman citizens were proscribed. Many of them were killed; others escaped from Rome, taking refuge in inaccessible areas—as, in this case, Garfagnana.

The reference in the manuscript is incorrect. The exact one is (Inghirami 1637), Liber II, pp. 120–128. Actually, the Ethruscarum antiquitatum fragmenta are a forgery. The real author (and self-proclaimed editor), Curzio Inghirami (1614–1655), was an archeologist and historian from Volterra. He claimed to have found these documents among his family papers, and that they had been written by a certain Prosper Fesulanus in the I century BC—hence this name is mentioned in the manuscript. However, already in 1640, the Greek-Italian scholar Leone Allacci (1586–1669) discredited Inghirami’s book ((Allacci 1640)). On this topic, see (Rowland 2004).

After the failure of his conspiracy against the Roman Republic and the Senate, Catiline (Lucius Sergius Catilina, 108–62 BC) tried to reach Gaul by passing through Etruria. However, near Pistoia he was stopped by the legions led by Marcus Petreius (110–46 BC), where he was forced to fight (battle of Pistoia, or Pistoria), and where he eventually died.

Caius Antonius Hybrida (106–after 42 BC), Roman politician and legate. A former ally of Catiline, he turned coat against him and took the side of the Senate.

See note 9.

Decimus Iunius Silanus (I century BC). In 62 BC, he was made consul with Lucius Licinius Murena.

Lucius Licinius Murena (105–22 BC). In 62 BC, he was made consul with Decimus Iunius Silanus.

Probably an unspecified and learned member of the Orsucci, an ancient and noble family in Lucca.

Arguably, Bartolomeo (not Simone) Morganti.

Perhaps the historian Niccolò Franchini Taviani (circa XVII century): a member of the Franchini Taviani, a noble family in Pistoia. See (Capponi 1874), 144–145; (1878), 198; (Moreni 1805), 497.

Arguably, Timoteo (not Lazzaro) Tramonti.

Probably, this was (or is—the vagueness of the note makes it impossible to verify the location of the spring, and whether it still exists or not) a secondary outflow of an underground karst channel.

Because of its high calcium content (mainly CaO), wood ash is typically alkaline.

Lago Calamone, also known as Lago del Ventasso (“Lake of Ventasso”). It is a glacial lake located on the northwestern slope of Mount Ventasso (1,727 m/5,666 ft above sea level). Both the lake and the mountain are now part of Ventasso (Province of Reggio Emilia). See http://www.parcoappennino.it/percorso.php?id_zona=7id=107.

Nigone, now a hamlet in the municipality of Ventasso. On this topic, see (Tiraboschi 1825), 142–143.

In Azzari’s Compendio ((Azzari 1623)) there is no trace of this quote. We can find just a short hint at the voice Nigone: “Nigone, Monte Moscoso, Ramoseto, Buora, Lago di Ventasso, con titolo di Contea, di Claudio Valisneri, Regiano, a cui è sottoposto quel bellissimo lago detto Ventasso” (page not numbered). Given that Azzari’s book is a Compendio—i.e., a “summary”—Vallisneri’s quote likely refers to a longer, unpublished text from the same author.

Torrente Enza (“Enza Creek”), a main tributary of the Po River. It forms a natural boundary between the Provinces of Parma (on the west) and Reggio Emilia (on the eastern side). It was once known as Incia, or Lenza. For a terminological history of this name, see (Brambilla Ageno 2000), 582; (Tiraboschi 1824), 390.

The Secchia River originates on the slopes of the Alpe di Succiso (“Alp of Succiso”), at 1,450 m/4,757 ft above sea level. This location is now part of the municipality of Ventasso. Currently, in the surroundings of the Alp there isn’t any place named “Pra’ di Reno.” This may be due to the extreme antiquity of such a toponym.

Actually, the Enza does not originate from the Lake of Ventasso. Rather, its source is located on the slopes of Mount Palerà (at circa 1,300 m/4,265 ft above sea level), a few kilometers west of the Alp of Succiso.

Since the XI century, the Counts of Vallisneri (also known as Vallisnera, or Vallisniera, or Vallisnieri, or Vallisneria) were the feudal rulers of this land and of many other nearby regions in the current Province of Reggio Emilia (see (Tiraboschi 1825), 389–392). Not without a struggle, as Antonio himself attested in two private manuscripts ((Vallisneri, n.d.), State Archive of Reggio Emilia, Archivio Vallisneri, Busta 27, n. 1; (n.d.), State Archive of Reggio Emilia, Archivio Vallisneri, 5, mazzo c, Busta II, Scheda n. 51), he succeeded in proving that his family descended from this ancient and noble lineage, whose roots date back to the Lombard (or Longobard) dominion in Italy. On this topic, see (Generali 2007), 1–4. Still today, Vallisnera is a hamlet in the municipality of Ventasso.

The boundaries of the current administrative region of Lombardy are far different from medieval and early modern Lombardy, whose territory included a large part of northern Italy and covered the whole Po Plain, up to the northern Apennines. On this topic, see (Andenna 1998); (Black 2014).

No biographical data were found about this person.

In the Duchy of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio (and, from 1597, in the Duchy of Modena and Reggio), a “Massaro ducale”—literally, “ducal estate Manager”—was the officer in charge of taxes and tolls, and the custodian of funds in a community. See (Rezasco 1881), 612–614.

Perhaps Simone Calcagni (XV century), who later became Archdeacon in Reggio (see (Affarosi 1737), 93; (Turchi 2007), 358).

No biographical data were found about this person.

Busana (now part of the municipality of Ventasso).

Borso d’Este (1413–1471), first Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio. On this topic, see (Tiraboschi 1825), 130.

“Situla”: Secchia River. See (Tiraboschi 1825), 333.

Mauro Vallisneri (16?–17?), a Benedictine priest, historian, and a disciple of Benedetto Bacchini (1651–1721). He was a relative of Antonio, and helped him to prove the nobility of his ancestors. On this topic, see (Generali 2007), 1–3; (Vallisneri 1991), 384–385.

As this note clearly attests, Vallisneri found in this (currently lost) manuscript the “Propositione” on the Lake of Ventasso (see note 35).