SUF announces adoption of ancestral tombs
SUF announces adoption of ancestral tombsOctober 31, 2007Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
In perfect timing for the Halloween season, Syracuse University Florence (SUF) has announced the adoption of four tombs located in the English cemetery in Florence.
The tombs are those of four members of the Gigliucci family, the builders and first inhabitants of SUF’s main classroom and administrative building, the Villa Rossa. Count Mario Gigliucci, the first in the line, is buried in the cemetery, along with his wife, English-born Edith Margaret Mozley. Next to this double plot are located the plots of Mario’s brother, Giovanni, and his wife, Charlotte Sophia, sister of Edith Margaret.
The English Cemetery was founded in 1828 for non-Catholic foreign residents of Florence. In this prestigious location, just outside the medieval city walls, are buried such notable personalities as writers Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Frances Milton Trollope, and the well-known German historian Robert Davidsohn.
The English cemetery’s director, Sister Julia Holloway, has launched the adopt-a-tomb program in a bid for funds for tomb restoration. Barbara Deimling, SUF director, says, “There are no direct descendents of the Gigliucci family. As SUF shared the Villa Rossa with Countess Bona — the last member of the Gigliucci family — for the last 20 years of her life, we consider ourselves to be the heir of the family’s patronage, and it ought to be our obligation to care for these as if they were ancestral tombs.”
This restoration gives SUF students unique academic opportunities through site visits and internships within the otherwise closed cemetery: SUF students enrolled in the “Techniques of Restoration” class, as well as graduate students in art history, had the opportunity to observe first hand the process of restoration during a visit to the cemetery.
“This was a very valuable experience for students,” says SUF professor Diane Kunzelman. “It enabled them not only to see first hand how such an operation is carried out, but also gave them the opportunity to interact with the expert and examine up close the materials and methodology used.”
A series of interesting internship opportunities have also resulted from the tombstone adoption: In collaboration with Sister Holloway, this semester one SUF student will research the list of descendents for adopt-a-tomb possibilities within the Florentine community, while future projects include work in the extensive library located within the cemetery’s administrative building.
Restoration is under way under the supervision of Alberto Casciani of Meridiana Restauri, who has also been responsible for the restoration of important works of art such as Giambologna’s famed “Rape of the Sabine Women,” located in Piazza Signoria.
Weather permitting, the restoration of the Gigliucci tombstones will be completed by mid-November, at which time award-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardener Tiggy Salt from London will do the landscaping of the cemetery plots. Salt will donate her work in thanks for SUF’s collaboration on a garden design using SUF-created costumes from the opera “Where the Wild Things Are.”