Emiliano Ponzi, I, BONVESIN

«Bonvesin de la Riva endowed with a kind of pensive prudence in a period of wild power struggles, such as the last thirty years of the 13th century in Milan; sitting at his work table he poses and photographs his dream of an active and peaceful communal life, with the amiable illusion that wise words would find a place in the senseless spaces of political ambition».
Maria Corti

Bonvesin de la Riva was born in Milan before 1250. The family lived in the Porta Ticinese district. He was magister or doctor gramaticae in Legnano, before returning to Milan where, by 1288, he wrote De magnalibus urbis Mediolanithe wonders of Milan. He was a tertiary friar of the Order of the Humiliati, participating in the administration of various charitable institutions, and was one of the deans of the Ospedale nuovo.

He wrote works in Latin and in the vernacular, among which we know the Carmina (or Controversiade mensibus on the theme of the months, a widespread one in medieval art and literature, the De vita scolastica, which was still very popular in the Renaissance, and the De magnalibus urbis Mediolani. Little involved in the city’s turmoil, he aligned himself with the Visconti, more out of prudence than politics, if it is true that Carmina de mensibus allegorises the attempted rebellion of Napo della Torre, an opponent of the Visconti, exiled after his defeat at Desio in 1277, a year after the text was written. He made his will in 1313 and died shortly afterwards, before 1315.

Emiliano Ponzi, with his banner, implements a masterly superimposition: Bonvesin is the city he narrates, its heart coincides with the metropolis, its veins, its arteries are the city streets.

Posted on: 28 October 2021, by : Alessandro Ulleri