Mozart &
Material Culture


1770-08-21 : Letter from Leopold Mozart to Anna Maria Mozart.

The full text of this letter reads:

                                                                                                                                                          Bologna 21 Aug. 1770.

My leg, praise God, is fully recovered. We’re still on the estates alla Croce del Biacco that belong to Comte Bolognetti but which Count Pallavicini has leased for a number of years. The great annual festival that the members of the Bologna Philharmonic Society celebrate every year with the greatest magnificence with Vespers and High Mass will take place on the 30th inst. We plan to hear it but I think we’ll be leaving soon afterwards. Where? – – That’s not yet been fully decided. Meanwhile continue to write to me at Bologna, I’ll make arrangements to ensure that I receive all your letters. Even if I go to Pisa, Luca, Livorno and Genoa, I’ll still pass through Florence. Please thank Dr Agliardi for his best wishes, give him my kind regards and tell him that I hope it was a mere rumour and nothing serious; I got rid of it with warm compresses, having first soaked some flores Sambucci[1] in the water. The brief warm spell that we had here has disappeared again following a thunderstorm that was accompanied by heavy rain. I wasn’t able to write to you on the 18th as I had to go out with Her Ex the Countess[2] and we didn’t get back till late, by which time the Field Marshal’s letters had already been sent into town. You’ll have read in all the papers about the disaster caused by the earthquake on the island of Santo Domingo.[3] Dealers will no doubt seize the opportunity to put up the price of sugar as the sugar plantations there have been destroyed. Praise be to God, we are happy with our figs, melons and other fruit, which we’ve been eating in great moderation. Each evening, around 2 hours before table, we eat a fruit that I’ve never seen except in paintings and that tastes like cucumber, it’s a large round fruit with green peel, when you open it up and cut it into pieces, it looks very appetizing as it’s pale red inside. People call this fruit anguria, also gourd or pumpkin, but these are good pumpkins, not the wild sort. You eat them with sugar and cinnamon. I’m going to stop now as I still have to write 2 other letters to Milan and Rome. We kiss you both 1000 times and I am your old
Our best wishes to all our friends inside and outside the house.

[Mozart’s postscript]
I too am still in the land of the living and, what’s more, having lots of fun. Today I was suddenly seized by the desire to ride on a donkey, as is the custom in Italy, and so I thought I should give it a try. We have the honour of going everywhere with a certain Dominican [Pietro Zerovintsky] who’s regarded as a saint, though I don’t really believe it as he often has a cup of drinking chocolate for breakfast and immediately afterwards a good glass of fortified Spanish wine, and I too have had the honour of dining with this saint, who at table drank lots of wine, finishing it all off with a whole glass of fortified wine, two large slices of melon, some peaches, pears, 5 cups of coffee, a whole plate of birds and two full plates of milk and lemon; he may have done this on purpose, but I don’t think so, as it would have been too much, apart from which he also eats a lot for his tea during the afternoon. Addio. Farewell: kiss Mama’s hands for me. Best wishes to all who know me.
Wolfgang Mozart, 1770
P. S. We’ve been introduced to a German Dominican who calls himself Pater Cantor, he asked me to give his best wishes to H Hagenauer the sculptor in Salzburg, he told me that he always confessed to him when he was in Bologna. Addio.

[Leopold’s postscript]
H Meuficoffre has asked me to pass on his best wishes to you both; he certainly did us all proud in Naples and continues to write to me.

[1] Elder flowers.

[2] Maria Caterina Pallavicini-Centurioni.

[3] See the Gazzetta di Milano for 15 August 1770: Francia. Parigi 24. Luglio. . . Coll’ultime Lettere di S. Domingo si èavuta l’infausta nuova, che il giorno 5 dello scorso Giugno èstat scossa quell’ Isola da uno de’ più terribili Tremoti, che siansi mai sofferti in quelle parti del globo. Sono subissate per si fiero accidente cinque Città senza essersi potuta salvare Persona alcuna. Un rale eccidio si è este so alla circonferenza di 36. Leghe, sconvolgendo in ogni parte il Terreno, spaccando Montagne, e ponendo il tutto a soquadro. Una sì spaventevole scena non può, che eccitare della compassione, e dell’ orrore in chi ha sentimenti d’umanità. While the number of persons killed in the 1770 earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince was relatively small, estimated at 200, the resulting famine and food contamination led to more than 30,000 deaths. See Scherer, `Great earthquakes in the Island of Haiti`.

Mozart, Leopold (1719-1787)
Mozart, Anna Maria (1720-1778)
Date 1
Croce del Biacco
Date (Mozart)
Location (Mozart)
Croce del Biacco
Bibliographic Reference
Mozart-L, 17700821