Fibonacci in Pisa

Statue of FibonacciPhotography by Carlos Dorce

Statue of Fibonacci
Photography by Carlos Dorce

I didn’t only walk through Galileo Galilei’s steps in Pisa two weeks ago. It wasn’t my first time in Pisa but I hadn’t never visited the cemetery of the Piazza dei Miracoli before. I admit that the Camposanto Monumentale is a very interesting place. I could’n imagine that I would enjoy this place so much.

Camposanto monumentalePhotography by Carlos Dorce

Camposanto monumentale
Photography by Carlos Dorce

Nevertheless, I visited the cemetery because I was interested in a particular marble statue: Fibonacci is exhibited there! Leonardo da Pisa, Fibonacci (c.1170-c.1230), is one of the most famous mathematical names. We know very little about his life apart from his own biography written in his Liber abaci (1202):

After my father ‘s appointment by his homeland as state official in the customs house of Bugia for the Pisan merchants who thronged to it, he took charge; and, in view of i ts future usefulness and convenience, had me in my boyhood come to him and there wanted me to devote myself to and be instructed in the study of calculation for some days. There, following my introduction, as a consequence of marvelous instruction in the art, to the nine digits of the Hindus, the knowledge of the ar t very much appealed to me before all other s , and for it I realized that all i ts aspects were studied in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence, with their varying methods; and at these places thereafter , while on business, I pursued my study in depth and learned the give-and take of disputation. But all this even, and the algorism, as well as the art of Pythagoras I considered as almost a mistake in respect to the method of the Hindus. Therefore, embracing more stringently that method of the Hindus, and taking stricter pains in its study, while adding certain things from my own understanding and inserting also certain things from the niceties of Euclid’s geometric art , I have striven to compose this book in its entirety as understandably as I could, dividing it into fifteen chapters. Almost everything which I have introduced I have displayed with exact proof, in order that those further seeking this knowledge, with its preeminent method, might be instructed, and further, in order that the Latin people might not be discovered to be without it , as they have been up to now. If I have perchance omitted anything more or less proper or necessary, I beg indulgence, since there is no one who is blameless and utterly provident in all things.

The statue is one of the corners of the cloister and the inscription on the pedestal says: “A Leonardo Fibonacci. Insigne Matematico Pisano del Secolo XII (To Leonardo Fibonacci, eminent XII century Pisan mathematician)”.

The statue was planned by the marquis Cosimo Ridolfi and the baron Bettino Ricasoli from Firenze who wanted to promote the Tuscan culture among the people. Ricasoli was the prime minister of the Tuscany which had benn annexed to teh Savoy Reign in 1859 and Ricasoli was the secretary for education. So in September 23, 1859, they promoted a decree to finance a statue of Fibinacci as “the initiator of the algebraic studies in Europe” in the city of Pisa. The sculptor Giovanni Paganucci was commisioned fot that job and the statue was finished four years later and placed in the Camposanto of Pisa. In 1926, the Fascist goverment decided to place some statues of the cloister in some squares of Pisa trying to show eminent Pisan figures to the people: Fibonacci was one of them. Fibonacci was placed in front of the Ponte di Mezzo in the centre of Pisa. When in 1944 the Alied Troops arrived at Pisa, they bombed all the city and almost all the centre was destroyed. However, our statue of Fibonacci kept its position standing in the middle of the damaged city:

Fibonaci was also little damaged and nowadays he hasn’t got fingers in his hands.

After the II World War, the Camposanto was restored and Fibonacci was kept in a warehouse until he was moved to Giardino Scotto (map). In 1990’s, Fibonacci was accurately restored and was placed in the Camposanto monumentale.

Location: Camposanto monumentale (map)


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