Monday, July 16, 2012

grave post - Campodonico

Caterina Campodonico was born in 1804 as a strong willed peasant who spent her life traveling far and wide selling her homemade reste - necklaces made of nuts (sometimes translated as hazelnuts or chestnuts or peanuts) and breads. She was judged as too independent by her family and when she became ill in 1880 instead of helping to care for her were already arguing about how to distribute her wealth (which they did not believe was solely from selling her breads and nuts). However she defied them by living and then, using the money she had been saving, commissioning the most prominent sculptor of the time as well as a popular poet to create her monument.

"By selling necklaces of nuts and sweets at the Sanctuaries of Acquasanta, Garbo and St. Cipriasso, defying wind, sun and water coming down in buckets, in order to provide an honest loaf for my old age; among the little money laid by myself to the furthest ends of time, with this monument, which I Caterina Campodonico (called the Peasant) an authentic inhabitant of Portoria, have erected while still alive. 1881. Oh, you who pass close to this, my tomb, if you will, pray for my peace.

Giambattista Vigo (which seems to have a more flowing meter and rhyme in the original Genoese dialect)

Caterina chose the famed Lorenzo Orengo as he was the best sculptor among the Genoese bourgeoisie.

Just as many of the entrepreneurs and professionals had the symbols of their wealth, Caterina made sure she was wearing the traditional garb of the hawker and is seen with the objects of her trade - a necklace of nuts with twisted loaves of bread.

It is said that she used to delight in standing beside herself in her traditional skirt and apron with the fringed shawl for the Genoese who flocked to see her marble monument.

On July 7th 1882, Caterina died and there was a long procession following her to the Staglieno Cemetery from the church of Santo Stefano.

Her statue has become the most recognized in the cemetery "which more than any other has a place in the collective memory and imagination".

see more monuments at Taphophile Tragics


  1. Wow! A peasant's beautifully worked statue! An extraordinary combination! So love the side swing of beads, shawl and hair braid detail in the statue! A fascinating sculpture!

  2. What a nice story and what an original way of making a necklace! She was a remarkable woman in het time. The statue is beautiful.

  3. I love this! I love it when one of the hoi-polloi gets their own back.

    Orengo certainly was a master sculptor/mason. The folds in the drapery, the braiding in the hair, the loops of the beads, are each a delight.

    But it is her attitude that I heartily applaud.

    However, where did they inter her body? Beneath the statue or elsewhere in the cemetery? And, what on earth happened to the walls? World War II?

    1. I don't know what happened to the walls - good question.
      as for the body, I wondered that, too. the monument is at the entrance to the "western arcade, toward the monumental staircase".

  4. Great italian monumental statue. Like it.

  5. Go Caterina! Best thing to do with the wealth you've amassed during your life is to spend it all before your death so the squabblers don't get it.

    Beautiful monument.

    Herding Cats & Beneath Thy Feet

  6. Well they say you can't take it with you but I think she pretty much succeeded! Good for her.

  7. Caterina must have been quite a popular character at these markets!

  8. I'm glad she defied everyone by doing her own thing.
    A lady after my own heart.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  9. what a story! i like that its written on her stone she erected it herself while still alive. and that she asks passersby to pray for her.
    and what a pretty statue...

  10. I do love a feisty, determined, independent woman! Great story, and a beautiful sculpture.

  11. I think if I'd been her I might have asked for a slightly more cheerful expression...

  12. Great story and a very courageous and strong-willed woman Brava!


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