Viaggio in Dalmazia, vol. The Italian clergyman Alberto Fortis studied philosophy and natural sciences with a specialty in mineralogy, and was professor at the University of Padua. Later in life he settled at Spalato Split , from where he went on a series of explorations in Istria and Dalmatia, which at the time were provinces of the Venetian Republic. He published his impressions in , in a volume entitled "Viaggio in Dalmazia" "A Journey to Dalmatia".
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He was baptized as Giovanni Battista, but always called himself Alberto. As a youth Fortis entered Paduan junior seminary and then the Augustinian order. He studied languages and sciences in Rome. Agostino Hermits of St. Augustine in He pursued studies in theology, but his real interest lay in natural history, and he broke with teh Augustine order in in order to pursue his scientific studies more freely though he was not able officially to leave the order until He moved to Venice, began working as a journalist for the Magazzino italiano, and established contact with two internationally celebrated naturalists whose work was featured in the periodical Lazzaro Spallanzani and Charles Bonnet.
As primary members of the editorial teams of the newly established newspaper, Fortis and Caminer became close friends as well as working partners. Scholars hae often described the spiritual and intellectual bond the two shared over the course of their lives.
Indeed, as a mentor, friend, and business partner over the years, Fortis was probably one of the single most influential people in her life. According to Giulio Perini, a Florentine man of letters and her other mentor who felt unrequited love for Elisabetta, Fortis was "although he does not say so, enamored of the girl," himself, while she was "most wise, and felt more gratitude and and friendship for him, and nothing of love.
He undertook a series of geological, archeological, and anthropological expeditions during his lifetime, making repeated travels to Dalmatia. He also traveled extensively in southern Italy, where he lived for some years in the service of the court of Naples.
He published two controversial works on the topic, Del nitro minerale Napoli, and Lettare a Melchiorre Delfico Napoli, After returning to the Veneto, Fortis pursued his interest in paleantology, collaborating with G.
Olivi on Zoologica adriatica and undertaking excursions in search of fossils with Giambattista Brocchi. He was a disciple of Giovanni Arduino, who had been the first to notice the evidence of volcanism in the Veneto. Fortis explored the area thoroughly in the s, and he even accompanied Nicolas Desmarest when he toured the area in and noticed the basalt formations in the Ronca valley and the Alpone valley, between Verona and Vicenza.
Fortis had no doubt that the basalt of the Veneto was the result of volcanic activity. But he also found abundant layers of marine sandstone and clay above and below the basalt. Fortis came to believe that basalt originated as marine clay and was transformed into basalt by volcanic activity. There were no fossils in the basalt because the fossils had been burned out by the volcanic fire. Thus in a way Fortis believed in the volcanic origin of basalt, because he thought it owed its origin to heat, but in another way he rejected the theory, since he did not think that basalt was volcanic lava that had cooled very slowly.
These studies resulted in Fortis publishing in Della valle vulcanico-marina di Ronca nel territorio veronese memoria orittografica,. It is, in fact, an essay on the natural history of the volcanic valley of Ronca near Verona, including a discussion of the geology and fossils found in the valley.
It is printed with some very fine etchings on fold-out plates. The first plate shows fossil sea-shells, the remainder showing dramatic formations of volcanic rock and the natural scenery around them. The beautifully engraved double-page plates show fossil shells, geological structures, basalt etc.
Istria and Dalmatia Fortis travelled all over Europe, in particular across Italy and Dalmatia while dispatching his duties given to him by the Venetian Senate during the period of to , making his trip by sea along the Istrian coast, exploring the countryside, folk customs and poetry of local inhabitants.
He was not a rich man but his enthusiasm enabled him to get financial aid for his travels from wealthy and influential people. In and he stayed in Istria, in on the islands of Cres and Losinj, the latter journey largely funded by John Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Bute Later in he went further south to the karst sources of the Cetina river near Vrlika and of the Krka near Knin where he explored the underground river source at Tapolje Shaw, in press.
He was accompanied there by Frederick Augustus Hervey who paid all expenses. Hervey was also with him on the Pula-Rovinj journey. In the period from to and later, he paid several visits to Dalmatia, in particular to the area of Dubrovnik During his stays in Croatian areas he made friends with a large number of educated people, who provided him with data, in particular geographic and ethnographic, on Dalmatia.
The map represents the island of Cres and Losinj with their waters at the scale of While traveling through Istria and Dalmatia, he also learned some words of local Slavic dialects, which he called Illyrian. His extensive travels in Dalmatia and its karst resulted in notes in the form of interesting letters to famous friends all over Europe. The generosity of the people who had financed his travels are recognized in the dedications in the English edition of his Travels into Dalmatia Fortis a.
In he was in the classical Karst region of Slovenia near Trieste, where he visited Vilenica, and he went from there to Postojna and Planina Shaw , Fortis was only 29 years old during this second Istrian journey, the youngest of the party, and 11 years younger than Hervey in Included are his observations of Cherso and Osero, and the account of the voyage of Antonio Veranzio from Budapest to Constantinople in , edited by Fortis.
There are numerous details of the Morlacchi , or Vlassi as they called themselves. In his account Fortis outlined many of the divisions and tensions: the Vlassi despised the people of the coastal towns, who heartily detested them in return. To Fortis the Morlacchi represented a key to the ethnographic identity of Eastern Europe, since they could be identified by their language as Slavs.
The accidental discovery of coins, walls and a necropolis at Tupeci made Fortis famous; the naturalist came to the conclusion that the locality could have been the site of the Late Antiquity Laurentum described by Procopius ? AD , a Byzantine historian.
The above work was quoted by Montague Summers in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin reprinted : "When a man dies suspected of becoming a Vampire or Vulkodlak, as they call it, they cut his hams, and prick his whole body with pins, pretending that, after this operation, he cannot walk about.
Mustard seeds were often placed in the coffin in order to keep the vampire busy counting them" pp. In Europe, his book was the biggest literary sensation from the Italy of the 18th century. Due to the interesting observations, the enormous popularity of these notes, especially about the Morlaks, has been lasting until today in Europe. In Fortis held an inaugural lecture in the Economic Society of Split titled Della coltura del castagno da introdursi nella Dalmazia marittima e mediterranea On the Cultivation of Chestnut and its Introduction into the Seaside and Inland Dalmatia.
The first edition of the work was issued in in Naples and was reprinted in in Venice. Fortis left Split for Naples where he worked as court mineralogist, being engaged not only in research, but also in practical activities, for example as a reader of old chronicles and a maker of corographic maps, an expert who explores mineral resources of the Kingdom and proposes how to exploit them.
In , after a ten-year service at Naples court, Fortis returned to Padua. The translation of Viaggio in Dalmazia into the Croatian language was published in Zagreb in In he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in London. Fortis died in Bologna on October 21,
Fortis, Viaggio in Dalmazia