Francesco Luzzini

Visiting Scholar (Feb 2018-Dec 2020)


Francesco Luzzini (PhD, History of Science, University of Bari; BA/MA, Natural Sciences, University of Milan) is Affiliate Scholar in Department I of the MPIWG and Research Fellow at the MuSe-Museum of Sciences in Trento, Italy. His research focuses on natural history, natural philosophy, and medicine in Europe from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries. From January 2015 to December 2016, he was Edition Open Sources Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oklahoma Libraries.

Within the Anthropocene Project, Francesco’s research focuses on a historical period (late seventeenth to early eighteenth century), which is conventionally described as the “prehistory” of Anthropocene, that is, the period before human activities began to significantly impact geologically and ecologically on the Earth’s environment. Still, it was during this period that natural philosophy, medicine, experimentalism, and traditional technologies started to interact significantly, leading to the definition of new scientific practices and methods. Relying on field research, the newborn earth sciences gained knowledge (and most of their terminology) from a number of technical and practical activities such as mining, chemistry, metallurgy, engineering, hydraulics, and even pottery and farming. This interdisciplinary cross-pollination set the stage for the explosive rise of human technologies, and the dramatic impact they would exert on the environment in the following centuries.

Francesco’s new book (Theory, Practice, and Nature In-between), published in 2018 in the Edition Open Sources Series, is a critical edition of Antonio Vallisneri’s Primi itineris per Montes Specimen Physico-Medicum (1705): an unpublished manuscript containing an exceptionally wide array of geological, medical, geographical, technical, ethnographic, historical, and archaeological data. Vallisneri (1661–1730), the preeminent physician and naturalist of his time in Italy, wrote this report after a journey he made in the Northern Apennines in the summer of 1704: down the hills south of Reggio Emilia to northern Tuscany and the western edge of his native home, the province of Garfagnana.

The Primi Itineris Specimen is one of the earliest and most well-documented attempts to define a systematic approach to field research. Its frantically reworked pages and anxious marginal notes offer us a precious opportunity to understand why and how experimental data and theories in the early modern period interacted with and shaped the development of many crucial debates: the discovery of deep-time, the comprehension of geological phenomena, the perception of man’s place in nature, the search for new therapeutics, and the tormented and charming relation between science and religion.



  • Jan 2017–: Research Affiliate, Department I, MPIWG (Berlin, DE)
  • Oct 2017–: Research Fellow, MuSe-Museum of Sciences (Trento, ITA)
  • 2017: Lecturer in History of Early Modern Medicine, University of East Piedmont (Novara, ITA)
  • Mar-Sep 2017: Research Affiliate, University of Insubria (Varese, ITA)
  • Jan 2015 to Dec 2016: Edition Open Sources Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oklahoma Libraries (Norman, OK, USA)
  • Jul to Dec 2016: Visiting Scholar, Department I, MPIWG (Berlin, DE)
  • Oct 2015 to Oct 2016: Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Insubria (Varese, ITA)
  • 2012 to 2015: Adjunct Professor of History of Biology, University of Milan (Milan, ITA)
  • 2014: Research Fellow, Linda Hall Library (Kansas City, MO, USA)
  • 2012: Research Fellow, Linda Hall Library (Kansas City, MO, USA)
  • 2010 to 2012: Adjunct Professor of History of Geology, University of East Piedmont (Vercelli, ITA)
  • 2010 to 2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of East Piedmont (Vercelli, ITA)




No current projects were found for this scholar.

The Earth Sciences and Field Research in Early Eighteenth-century Italy


Selected Publications

Luzzini, F. (2018). Theory, Practice, and Nature in-Between: Antonio Vallisneri's 'Primi Itineris Specimen'. Berlin: Edition Open Access.

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Luzzini, F. (2018). Bibliographical Distortions, Distortive Habits: Contextualizing Italian Publications in the History of Science. Isis, 109(Suppl.1), 3-13. doi:10.1086/702660.

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Luzzini, F. (2019). Reply. Isis, 110(S1), 18-20. doi:10.1086/708228.

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Luzzini, F. (2018). Faelicissime floret: la Garfagnana estense descritta da Antonio Vallisneri. In G. Bertuzzi (Ed.), La Garfagnana: relazioni e conflitti nei secoli con gli stati e i territori confinanti (pp. 119-137). Modena: Aedes Muratoriana.

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Brown Bag Meeting

Primi Itineris Specimen (1705). An Edition Open Sources Book


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Adjunct Professor of History of Geology

University of East Piedmont

Adjunct Professor of History of Biology

University of Milan

Lecturer in History of Early Modern Medicine

University of East Piedmont