Discover more about the monument to Alessandro Manzoni in Lecco, the famous writer of the Italian literature masterpiece: The Betrothed.
October 11, 1891 – Let’s mark this date, very important for the city of Lecco, that the writer Alessandro Manzoni made world-wide famous with his literary masterpiece The Betrothed. On that day Lecco dedicated him a monument, which today returns to shine 125 years later thanks to a recent restoration.
We seem to hear the applauses and perceive the palpitions of those ones were attending that special moment. For sure senator Gaetano Negri was excited to open the ceremony and poet Giosué Carducci as well.
Without any doubt the speech written by Abbot Stoppani enthusiastically inspired the souls. He was the passionate promoter of the monument, but unfortunately died on January 1, 1891, failing to see the work he had so profoundly lavished to with the objective to make Lecco a national symbol of culture, poetics, and the feeling of nature.
Antonio Stoppani was a great admirer of Manzoni and shared many friends, intimate with both. Among them, Abbot Natale Ceroli, who for many years served Manzoni as cultural assistant and was his companion in the long walks Manzoni did daily in Milan. Ceroli provided Stoppani with many elements about Manzoni’s life, then written in Stoppani’s book The early years of A. Manzoni.
From the will to the realization
It was 1885, the first centenary from the birth of Manzoni, when Antonio Stoppani formed a committee and made a national appeal in order the great writer to be recognized in the city of that branch of Lake Como.
Many national and local personalities responded to this appeal, including the Sovereigns of Italy, Duke of Aosta, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giuseppe Ponchielli’s wife, Teresina Brambilla-Ponchielli, who participated as a singer (along with others) at the Grande Mattinata Musicale, which took place on Sunday, September 20, 1885, at 14.00, at the Teatro della Società di Lecco, directed by Mater Concertatore and Performer Vittorio Vanzo.
We quote the Emperor of Brazil Don Pedro II of Alcantara as weel, in fact he had a personal and epistolar relationship with Alessandro Manzoni over a period of twenty years. The Emperor donated 500 Lire (about 20,000 of the current Euros).
Various initiatives were organized to raise the funds needed to build the monument. The Stoppani Memorandum, printed in 12,000 copies, contained the poster to collect the subscriptions and recited: “Neither the rich think his gold is too generous, nor the poor too platry his money!”. The amount raised was £ 30,000.
On March 31, 1887, the limited contest of ideas for 15 famous artists was published.
They participated in thirteen, but nobody got the 5 votes required in order the project become achievable, so the contest was declared null. But Antonio Stoppani strongly wanted that monument for his friend and suggested to the committee he was presiding to entrust the work to the sculptor Francesco Confalonieri, who had won four votes in the competition and who had just realized the statue to Garibaldi.
The proposal was unanimously approved, but the artist’s estimate was £ 31,000 for the statue and stand, but the Lecco citizens wanted high reliefs for the statue as well, so they had to look for other financial resources and several collections were made.
Subscriptions to raise funds
There were about 3,000 subscriptions received from all over Italy with a great or little offering, among them many associations of the mutual Succour, many teachers and students of every grade (500 pupils of the primary schools of Lecco). The subscriptions of priests were significant (especially Lombardy and Larian), craftsmen, professionals, noblemen of all degrees and modest citizens. We may say there was an important subscription to the iniatiative by the national community.
It raised a total amount exceeding £ 40,000 (a little less than a million euros today) and thus allowed to realize the monument that today still honors the great figure of Alessandro Manzoni and the fireworks as well at the inauguration.
A bronze statue, depicting a standing Alessandro Manzoni, stands on the square of the same name on a base of granite of Baveno, which contains four high reliefs, three of which representing the emblematic scenes of the novel, id est: the kidnapping of Lucia, Renzo at the Lazzaretto and the marriage of the two betrothed, located in the front position between the writer’s feet and his name.
On the back there is the epigraph, which states: I CITTADINI DI LECCO NEL VOLERE E NELL’OPERA CON TUTTA ITALIA CONCORDI QUI DOVE VISSE E SI ISPIRÓ L’AUTORE DEI PROMESSI SPOSI ERESSERO NEL MDCCCLXXXXI
Under the inscription there are two coats of arms, respectively: on the left the one of the Kingdom of Italy while on the right the one of the Municipality of Lecco.
The realization was possible thanks to:
- Francesco Confalonieri – sculptor
- Officina F.lli Barzaghi in Milano for the statue
- Officina F.lli Romani in Milano for the 4 high relieves
- Giuseppe Fumagalli in Lecco for the base
- Antonio Badoni di Lecco for the gate
- Giuseppe Todeschini di Lecco as master builder
- Ing. Enrico Gattinoni as planning supervisor
- m 7,40: total height including the base in red granite of Baveno
- Statue: m 2,80: height – q 18: weight
- High relieves: 2 relieves cm 150 x 120 – 2 relieves cm 0,99 x 125
Extract from speech, prepared by Stoppani in August 1890, and pronounced, he disappeared, at the inauguration of the monument on October 11, 1891
“The sacred fire, which pushed Garibaldi to action, had been for a long time … nourished in the chest of Alessandro Manzoni, and made effective by his great wit to arouse the fire in the heart of those who listened to his verses. A source does not flow in a large vein, unless it is first generated and nourished by the slow dripping of the circulating water in the womb of the land; a volcano does not erupt if it is not accrued by the slow energy accumulated in the silence of the centuries. ‘! </ Em>
“Lecco could not lay in oblivion for a long time the one from whom the thought and the sentiment that gave life to action came first, and that he had many blessings of his beloved land, where he came to since his childhood, to drink in great sipss the aura of freedom. ‘! </ em>
“An intelligent, active, lively inhabitants, ready to admire everything that looks beautiful, good and great, easy to enthusiasms, liberal by tradition, rebellious to any kind of tyranny … Here both of them – Garibaldi and Manzoni – these great men. The former’s rapid gaze is not less talking than the latter’s calm and serene eye.</ em>
Here comes our youth and draw from both of those gazes what it may at one time elevate the spirit to great thoughts and inflammate souls to great challenges. ‘! </ em>
By courtesy of Centro Studio Abate Stoppani
We thank Centro Studi Abate Stoppani for the info provided
Image © eccoLecco