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Giuseppe Michelini

1873 - 1951


Giuseppe Michelini (Bologna, 1873 - Bologna, 1951) belongs to the agrarian upper class: in fact he was a landowner. Giuseppe Michelini was quite taller than the average at the time (1,69m), he had dark eyes and he was well built. Called “Geppe” by his family and his friends, he was a young and literate man, curious and with sensible humour. Thanks to his excellent economic annuities, he could devote himself to his personal interests. He was a member of the Italian Alpine Club of Bologna section (of which he was president from 1916 to 1925), of the Photographical Club of Bologna, of the Italian Touring Club, of the Italian Navy League, Bologna section. He was interested in photography, cycling, as well as in mountaineering. In 1907 he was given the driving license, essential to use the car, his other great passion (his first car was a Bebè Peugeot). He went on numerous excursions to explore the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and Val d’ Aosta. Not only that, he also travelled throughout Italy (mainly in the North) up to Switzerland.

Ines Sarti, born in 1883, met Michelini in 1902 in the historical Cafè Majani in Via Indipendenza (one of the most important streets in Bologna); they got married on 13th February 1904 and they had two children: Alessandro Pompeo (called “Sandrino”) in the same year, and Maria Giulia (called “Giulietta”) in 1909. Thanks to the excellent economic possibilities of the family, the children could have a high-standard life-style. Their summer holidays took place in Crevalcore, Riccione, Cattolica, Sestri Levante and Sestola, until the beginning of World War I. Since her birth, Giulietta, in the same way as Sandrino, was immortalized by her father in the most different situations: in the residence within the city walls and in her grandfather’s house at the seaside, in the mountains, in the countryside and during the family trips. Unfortunately, Maria Giulia died prematurely on December 13, 1927 due to a cardiac dysfunction contracted during the “Spanish” fever epidemic. The Sarti Family originally came from San Gabriele of Baricella, in the province of Bologna, and Ines’s father was - as Pompeo Michelini, Giuseppe’s father - a wealthy landowner. Ines was the eldest daughter of Alessandro Sarti and Adele Peretti; her brother was named Giannino, probably from Giovanni.

Ines was born on April 11, 1883; her brother was ten years younger. Thanks to the excellent financial resources of the family, he had a high standard of living. The pictures of “Michelini Fund” show him participating in the family life at least until the beginning of the Great World War in which he fought. Giannino was certainly redheaded like his mother and was full of freckles: the typical stereotype of the ‘enfant terrible’. Pompeo Michelini in his diary of 1906 often reports of the pranks pulled by the boy, who was their guest, and of the many times his parents told him off. Family summer vacations take place between the countryside of Crevalcore, Riccione, Cattolica, Sestri Levante and Sestola until the Great World War. Later, the family would stay in Cortina and Courmayeur until the Second World War. In the first years of his marriage, the author stays both in the residence within the city walls and in his father-in-law’s residence at Villa Camaldoli (Mazzacorati), where he devotes himself to the cultivation of fruit, which he will use to distil grappa and brandy. In the late ‘30s, he will move from via Mazzini (the current Strada Maggiore) to via Santo Stefano and buy a new property in the countryside, near Idice (Villa Valfieri). Giuseppe Michelini died in Bologna on the 12th of May 1951, in his house in via Santo Stefano. His wife Ines died six years later. The testimony that Michelini left us with his photos is about his travels and the places he visited; it is also the deposition of the protagonist of a story, which acquires the features of the novel. This story is about an entire and unrepeatable era, which disappeared with the First World War. Michelini composed an autobiographical story in images; the people are almost always caught in moments of domestic life, but there are also shots during the holidays at the seaside and in the mountains.

Giuseppe Michelini rests in Cloister X of the Certosa in Bologna, in a simple tomb placed under the monument dedicated to Alfredo Testoni. Most of his photographs are kept together with the photographic funds of the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation in Bologna.

Daniela Schiavina

Traduzione dall'italiano degli studenti Sofia Guida, Margherita Sforza, Rodolfo Rigosi del Liceo ginnasio Luigi Galvani, anno 2017-2018.