Fernando Pio Rosellini, son of Gianbattista Roselini, a wealthy businessman, and Angiola Biagiotti, was the younger brother of Ippolito Rosellini, famous because of his collaboration with Jean Francois Champollion in Egyptology studies. His birth date has been found through his baptism certificate dated 20 November 1848 in which the Vicar of the "Cura di San Cosimo" stated that he was born two days before his baptism.
Rosellini graduated in mathematics at the University of Pisa and improved his knowledge in physics at the University of Florence, where he was assistant professor to Leopoldo Nobili (1784-1835). He perfected his knowledge of French, Latin and Greek, with the help of his brother Ippolito, who by then was professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Pisa. Earlier, in 1828, Ippolito Rosellini and Jean-François Champollion (who was the first to decode Egyptian hieroglyphics) had led a combined expedition to Egypt and published their research in Monuments de l'Égypte et Nubie.
In 1836 he was tutor of the four sons of Giorgio Doria in Genoa, where he received a salary of two thousand francs in addition to a house and subsistence costs. During this time he studied botany and collected a rich herbarium which he gave to the Natural Science Museum of Genoa. He lived in Genoa, at the Doria family home, for ten years.
On 4 June 1843 his brother Ippolito died and three years later, on 8 March 1846, he married his sister-in-law Zenobia Cherubini and adopted her sons Eugenio, Angela and Giovanbattista.
The year 1848 was one of revolution in Italy and rulers introduced reforms to satisfy popular demand. Austria, however, controlled Lombardy-Venetia and when revolution broke out they arrested those involved in Venice and Milan in March. The inhabitants of Milan and Venice forced their Austrian rulers out. Rosellini was the Secretary of the "Circolo Patriottico Milanese" in Milan, where he took part to the this uprising. In an attempt to strengthen their cause against Austria, Lombardy and Venetia merged with Piedmont but their army suffered defeats against the Austrians who eventually captured Milan. Rosellini left Milan and went to Turin where he became a member of the Parliament of the Italian Kingdom from 1849 to 1850, then, still in Turin, he was director of the magazine "La Croce dei Savoia" from 1853.
In 1853, with the King Edict dated 13 February 1853, Camillo Benso conte di Cavour founded the High School "Istituto di Commercio e Industria" in Turin, and he wanted Ferdinando Rosellini for the head of the School. Rosellini obtained many important results as director and, in 1856, he received the honour "Croce di Cavaliere dell'Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro".
On 5 December 1852 Lady Clara Leardi Angelieri di Terzo gave her will to the notary Giocanni Negri: she wanted her mansion, the furniture, the library and two hundred thousand liras, to be left to the town of Casale Monferrato to found a high school to teach mathematics, physics and economics. Two years later, on 4 August 1854, she died and, on 10 February 1855 a committee was appointed to carry out the conditions set out in her will. The members of the board were Giuseppe Visconti, Carlo Cadorna, Vincenzo Luparia, Candido Bottacco, Giuseppe Tommaso Caire and Carlo Mazza. The articles of the association were approved with the King Edict of 3 August 1857. The economics board of the "Istituto Leardi" was designated: Filippo Mellana, Candido Bottacco, Giovanni Tommaso Caire, Pietro De Giovanni, Bernardino Guida, Cesare Manara, Carlo Mazza and Giuseppe Visconti.
This school was to provide a new kind of education, so that it was necessary to give it the right educational programs. Ferdinando Pio Rosellini was appointed head of the "Istituto Leardi". He talked about the programs that he worked out on 19 February 1858 to the Town Council. These programs were the basis of the ones proposed in the Casati Law dated 13 November 1859 n. 3725. Rosellini wrote also the regulations which were approved on 13 March 1858. The school "Istituto Leardi" was definitely introduced to the people on 24 June 1858. Here he was the head of the school for fifteen years and also a teacher of mathematics.
Here he collected a new rich herbarium. In February 1869, Rosellini gave to the "Istituto Leardi" his herbarium, called Flora monferrina, composed of plants and grass of the hills around Casale Monferrato. The original herbarium was enriched by the work of many teachers at the institute: Arturo Zanetti (1865-1869), Alessandro Capra (1871-1891), Ettore Bonzanini (1870-1874), Francesco Delprete (1874-1875), Vittore Gattoni (1875-1879), Bernardo Goio (1879-1886), Gioacchino Nogaris (1886-1890), Pietro Voglino (1890-1897), Augusto Sacco (1897-1900) and Giovanni Augusto De Amicis (1900-1905).
Article by: U Lucia and A Cervi, ITIS A Volta, Spalto Marengo 42, 15100 Alessandria, Italy