Born in Casale Monferrato in 1795, Luigi Canina grew up to become an Italian architect and archeologist that studied under the guidance of F. Bonsignore in Turin. As an architect, he played an important role in the construction of the Villa Borghese and the Casino Vagnuzzi, which showcased a distinct Egyptian style. Canina also taught architecture at Turin, but what he is probably best known for is his work regarding the excavation of Tusculum in 1829 and the Appian Way in 1848.
He later shared the results of these adventures in a collection of works that were published with the help of his patroness , the Queen of Sardinia. His studies regarding history and archeology were also heralded.
The son of a lawyer and notary, Canina came from a respectable household. When he was ten years of age, he was placed at the College of Valance (as a boarder). He would later find himself following the lead of his uncle, Vincent Canina, where he studied for seven years. During this time, he excelled at many different subjects, but mathematics had always been one of his strong points. Upon college graduation, Canina volunteered with the French Corps of Engineers before he explored the educational paths that would lead him to archeology and architecture.
The Excavation of Tusculum
Tusculum is the classical Roman name given to a major section of ancient history located in the Latium region of Italy. Today, the ruins of Tusculum are found on the Tuscolo Hill , positioned on the north edge of the outer crater right of the Alban volcano.
The first attempt to excavate Tusculum took place in 1806 when Lucien Bonaparte showed great interest regarding the top of the Tuscolo hill. By 1825, an archeologist by the name of Marquis Luigi Biondi (1776 , 1839) joined in the quest. During 1839 and 1840, it was Canina that followed the pursuit with the backing of the Sardinian royal family. He would become responsible for uncovering the theatre section associated with Tusculum. Ancient works of art that came from this venture were shipped off to Ducal Savoia Castle of Aglie (in Piedmont).
An expert of ancient monuments arrived in 1890. Thomas Ashby came to Rome as Director of “British School at Rome” and spent some time analyzing the monuments of Tusculum. His reported results were showcased in “The Roman Campagna in Classical Times”, which was published in London, 1927 , four years before his death.
Archaeologist Maurizio Borda was fortunate enough to discover a necropolis with cinerary urns during his excavations of Tusculum during 1955 and 1956.
Between 1994 and 1999, the last of the excavations concerning Tusculum unfolded with the efforts of Xavier Dupre and his workers. In the end, they were very helpful in highlighting important facts regarding the ancient ins and outs of Tusculum.
The Importance of Appian Way
Canina also played an important part in the excavation of the Appian Way , considered one of the most significant ancient Roman roads in history. For more information on the Appian Way, don’t forget to check out the article titled, “Appian Way , An Infamous Ancient Roman Road.”